Joe Biden kicks off an eight-day bus tour across Iowa on Saturday with a message: Reports of his demise in the nation’s first presidential caucus state have been greatly exaggerated, The Associated Press reported.
Biden’s aides acknowledge that he must sharpen his pitch ahead of the February 3 caucuses that launch Democrats’ 2020 voting. Yet the former vice president’s advisers reject any characterization of the 18-county swing as a campaign reset, even with polls showing that Biden’s standing in Iowa has slipped in recent months, AP adds.
They instead frame the extended trip as an effort to demonstrate wide appeal and harden support across a Democratic electorate whose top priority — even beyond intense intraparty debates on health care, a wealth tax and other issues — is defeating President Donald Trump. And conversations with his top advisers and supporters reveal a quiet confidence that the 77-year-old candidate retains a broad base of support and is well-situated to recover lost ground.
“As people get closer and closer to February, they become more and more practical about this,” said former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who recently gave Biden his most high-profile Iowa endorsement yet. “He can make the strongest case, among all the candidates, that he is in a position to get things done, and he is in a position to win.”
Iowa polls suggest Biden – still a front-runner nationally – is in a jumble near the top, with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg appearing to hold a narrow lead over the former vice president and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, 70, and Bernie Sanders, 78. The senators have animated the party’s left flank, while the 37-year-old Buttigieg joins Biden in Democrats’ moderate lane but calling for generational change.
Biden opened November with an underwhelming speech at the state party’s “Liberty & Justice” gala. While Buttigieg and Warren roused thousands of supporters in a Des Moines arena, Biden ticked through his standard applause lines as whole sections of seats purchased by his campaign sat empty, AP added.