Hillary Clinton is driving somewhere between her home in Chappaqua, New York, and her first official campaign stop in Monticello, Iowa, in a van named for a 1960s cartoon.
The armored van — the same vehicle that usually shuttles her to events in New York — has been nicknamed “Scooby” because it reminds the former Secretary of State of the Mystery Machine, the vehicle used by the main characters in the classic “Scooby Doo” cartoons. Aides have gone out of their way to note that the drive was Clinton’s idea.
“She loves her Scooby van,” tweeted Clinton communications director Jen Palmieri Sunday evening.
The 1,000-mile gambit is designed to help reinforce Clinton’s efforts to put a more down-to-earth spin on her campaign — a strategy she has employed successfully in her 2000 run for a U.S. Senate seat in New York.
Here’s journalist Daniel Halper’s description of her first Senate run in New York in his critical book Clinton, Inc.:
They were driving around New York in an armored brown van, “which we had called the mystery machine, the Scooby Doo van, which was an interesting thing to drive and learn to manipulate,” the agent tells me in an interview. That’s because Hillary and her staff objected to the customary limo the First Lady would normally use. They complained the “optics” weren’t right for an aspiring senator who wanted to look like she was a woman of the people—and not a product of the White House.
Clinton, who has said the last time she drove was in 1996, is not in the driver’s seat, instead leaving it to a member of her Secret Service detail. But that doesn’t mean she’s not paying attention to the road, according to Halper’s account.
One former Secret Service officer on her detail remembers driver her around and learning very quickly that Mrs. Clinton is a backseat driver. “She’s a bit of a micromanager. She’d always kind of tell us … thought she knew New York really well and didn’t know the streets, I think, as well as we did.”
Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer criticized the van.
“How stupid do the Clintons think the American people are?” he told TIME. “They pulled the same exact stunt in 2000. This is not resetting, it’s recycling.”