Former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday kicked off an 8-day blitz of Iowa as the White House hopeful seeks to gin up support ahead of the Hawkeye State’s first-in-the-nation caucus.
Biden will barnstorm Iowa in his “No Malarkey” tour through Dec. 7 as the crowded 2020 primary field gets ready to blanket the state before the crucial Feb. 3 caucus.
“You might have heard, we’re heading out on an eight-day, 18 county, ‘No Malarkey’ barnstorm across Iowa next week,” Biden said in a fundraising email to supporters this week. “The plan is to meet as many caucus-goers as I can, and we’re going to cover a lot of ground to do it.
“My job is to let folks know just how I plan to get this country back on track so that our economy works for everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, disability, or zip code,” he continued. “Restoring the backbone of this country – the great American middle class – will be my north star as president because I’m confident that given a fair shot, there’s nothing the American people can’t do.”
The tour comes as polling shows a tight race heading into the nation’s first nominating contest. Biden’s once double-digit lead has evaporated as surveys now show a competitive top-tier among the former vice president, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Biden still leads the 2020 field in national primary polls, but observers speculate that a misstep in Iowa for any candidate could hinder any momentum moving deeper into the primary season.
The former vice president is banking on his strong infrastructure in the Hawkeye State, as well as support from local politicians, to help boost his appeal in the caucuses – his campaign includes 26 offices and approximately 110 paid staffers on the ground, and he touts the support of 175 current and former Iowa elected officials, union leaders, teachers, veterans, community leaders and Democratic Party activists.
Biden won the crucial endorsement of former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa) last week, boosting his support among the party’s establishment.
“As I thought about the candidate who has the ability to bring us together as one nation, the progressive but practical vision for progress at home, the experience and personal relationships to repair America’s image abroad, and the best chance at winning the states we have to win to govern I concluded that Joe Biden is the person for the job,” Vilsack said in his endorsement.
However, Biden’s campaign has been forced to grapple with Democratic handwringing and an avalanche of media skepticism about its viability amid an increasingly competitive primary race and a third quarter that saw the former vice president trail his top primary opponents by millions of dollars in cash on hand.
Biden’s camp has recognized that a victory in Iowa is far from a sure thing and has maintained that a first-place finish there is not necessary for its path to the party’s nomination.
“Our opponents’ advertising blitzes and cash-on-hand advantage have turned into real support for them in Iowa,” said one Biden campaign email to supporters last week.
The party still hopes to put up a strong enough showing in Iowa and New Hampshire – two overwhelmingly white states that will hold the election’s first two nominating contests – to carry it into Nevada and South Carolina, two states with much more diverse electorates that play to Biden’s strengths with Hispanic and African American voters.