Biden Courts Iowans, Balances National Campaign

Minutes after Joe Biden met Cathy Buxengard, he commandeered her cellphone to talk with her 99-year-old mother about her service as a World War II nurse and how worried she is about the United States today, The Associated Press writes.

“You took care of ’em, Mom. … Thank you, thank you, thank you,” the former vice president, born during the war, said to Jo Strube as her daughter looked on, eyes welling.

Days later, near the end of his eight-day Iowa bus tour that concludes Saturday, the Democratic presidential contender stood alongside the man who, 15 years ago, won the nomination Biden now seeks. “Never has there been a moment more important for a person like Joe Biden to sit behind that desk in the Oval Office,” John Kerry declared.

The breadth of Biden’s most intense campaign blitz since he launched his campaign in April showcased the 77-year-old’s potential reach across a disparate and diverse Democratic electorate. Yet it also highlighted the needle-threading and sometimes-contradictory effort that Biden is attempting as he grasps a third time for the presidency. Polls suggest he remains a national front-runner, but he is in a cluster with Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in Iowa and the first primary state of New Hampshire.

His advisers insist that he doesn’t have to win Iowa to claim the Democratic nomination, with his support among minority voters giving him options in later states. But the emphasis on Iowa reflected a campaign that doesn’t want to start the 2020 nominating calendar with a bad showing on Feb. 3. “It’s getting cuttin’ time here,” Biden said Friday.

Biden focused the 18-county itinerary on Iowa’s rural and small towns, places that he called “the forgotten soul of America” and that his advisers believe will play an underappreciated role in the nominating fight and a hypothetical general election match-up against President Donald Trump.

Yet on two evenings, the former vice president traded his “No Malarkey”-emblazoned bus for a private jet to attend high-dollar campaign fundraisers in New York and Chicago, AP adds.

In the first setting, Biden recounted his upbringing in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Claymont, Delaware. “I was raised just like you were,” he said in county after county, even if rural Iowans “think of Delaware as just an East Coast state.” In those big-city venues, meanwhile, Biden mingled with some of the deepest Democratic pockets.

One effort reminded voters of Biden’s “Middle-Class Joe” nickname, the other that he trails Buttigieg, Warren and Sanders in fundraising and needs the help of wealthy donors to get past them and face Trump.

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