The timing of this is interesting (I’ll get to that in a bit): Aides to former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack are saying that he will endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton for president on Monday.

This endorsement should come as no surprise — I expected one DLC member to endorse the other. When it became clear that a Vilsack candidacy couldn’t essentially take Iowa off the table and clear the way for Hillary, then Plan B obviously was an endorsement. Whether Vilsack has been angling for a shot at VP or a nice Cabinet post, he’s obviously in the Clinton camp.

This move comes with its positives and negatives for Hillary. She benefits by gaining some organizational strength in a state where that definitely matters, and where her organization has been weaker than that of her top competitors, by most accounts. Some of Vilsack’s support (such as it was) might also move in her direction, which she could use — most Iowa polls (with the notable exception of ARG polls) have her in second or third. But she also raises the stakes for herself considerably in Iowa — with her money, her name, her machine, and now Vilsack’s endorsement, a poor showing in Iowa would be all the more devastating. When you have all of the advantages, you’d better win, or you’ll give voters reason to doubt your electability.

As for the timing of this, it is intriguing. Why announce this now? To get her name back in the headlines for something other than a spat over an Internet ad? Maybe, but the endorsement might have had more of an impact if they waited until closer to the caucuses. Apparently they felt they needed to do something now. Coincidentally, ARG’s Iowa poll for March just came out.

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