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Did Hillary Clinton Diss the Iowa Caucuses in Private Email?

The latest State Department release of Hillary Clinton emails contained this message from Clinton to friend Sidney Blumenthal: "If Mittens [Mitt Romney] can't beat Grinch [Gingrich] in Florida, there will be pressure on state Republican parties to reopen or liberalize ballot access especially in the caucuses, which as we know are creatures of the parties' extremes."

Clinton's remark shouldn't be too surprising given that she lost caucuses contests - including Iowa's - to Barack Obama in 2008.

But if Clinton's caucuses-tilt-to-the-extremes comment sounds familiar, it's pretty much what helped sink Howard Dean before the 2004 Iowa caucuses - exclusive video that NBC News unearthed during that election cycle.

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"If you look at the caucuses system, they are dominated by the special interests on both sides on both parties," Dean said in on a 2000 Canadian TV program that NBC News uncovered. "The special interests don't represent the centrist tendencies of the American people. They represent the extremists. Then you get a president beholden to either one extreme or the other."

While Martin O'Malley's campaign has seized on Clinton's email about the caucuses - with a statement of Iowa Democrats responding to it - it's unlikely to have the same kind of impact for three reasons:

  1. The 2016 Dem race isn't as close as the 2004 race;
  2. The Democratic party establishment doesn't have its knives out for Clinton the same way it did for Dean back then;
  3. The 2004 NBC report was explosive because the comment was caught on tape - instead of one of thousands of released emails.