Clinton trying to distance herself from Obama

Vice President Biden is also captivating the party's interest

(CNN) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is maintaining her lead as the Democratic frontrunner, but she’s well aware that she’s got competition.

She’s also trying to carve out her own positions, independent of her former boss, President Barack Obama.

Clinton was back in Iowa Tuesday, and finally playing offense. She’s taking to the airwaves, seizing on House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s suggestion the committee investigating the Benghazi attacks is designed to bring down her candidacy.

It’s the first national television ad of her campaign – taking on Republicans, but not overlooking the Democratic race that’s tougher than she imagined. With Bernie Sanders catching fire with liberals – and vice president Joe Biden waiting in the wings – Clinton is trying to hold onto her claim as the Democratic front-runner.

Day by day, she’s putting more distance between her positions and president Obama. She’s saying yes to a Syrian no-fly zone. She’s saying no to the Keystone XL pipeline. And she’s speaking out forcefully against U.S. deportation. In an interview with Telemundo, she outlined one of her biggest splits with the president, saying: “I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer.”

But it’s Vice President Biden who is captivating the party’s interest as he nears a decision on jumping into the 2016 race. Biden kept out of public view, holding his weekly White House lunch with the president, as speculation about his political future raged.

In Iowa today, those lining up to see Clinton Tuesday had Biden on their minds. Iowa voter Terry Boydstun said, “Competition is always good, and that’s his choice, so he needs to decide that.”

But several Democrats hoped Biden stayed on the sidelines. Iowa voter Becky Hausmann said, “I’m pretty satisfied with Bernie and Hillary, I like both of them.”

Few people are eagerly awaiting an answer more than Clinton.  But Tuesday, she played it cool – joking about her star turn on Saturday Night Live. “You know I have been trying out different possible careers, I kind of like the bartending idea.”

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