Democrats rush back to campaign trail in Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign event at La Poste, on Jan 26, 2020, in Perry, Iowa. PHOTO: AFP

MARSHALLTOWN (Iowa) • Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar dashed back to Iowa over the weekend for a frenzied burst of campaigning after a week spent confined to Washington for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Their appearances took place amid signs of growing strength in Mr Sanders' candidacy, particularly after a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely caucus goers released last Saturday that showed him leading the field in Iowa.

Given the fears of some Democrats that he could be portrayed as too far to the left to defeat Mr Trump, his show of strength is likely to alarm some of his detractors as much as it pleases his own supporters coming so close to the Feb 3 caucuses.

Mr Pete Buttigieg's campaign sent a fundraising e-mail last Saturday warning that "Bernie Sanders could be the nominee of our party", followed by another e-mail that cast doubt on Mr Sanders' ability to beat Mr Trump.

And former vice-president Joe Biden took an implicit jab, in a tweet, at Mr Sanders over his campaign's promotion of an endorsement from Mr Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host who has been criticised for his comments on race and about transgender people.

Mr Sanders, sounding a bit congested, made it to Iowa in time for a rally in Marshalltown with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and filmmaker Michael Moore.

He made no mention of his poll showing, but he did not have to.

"We're taking on the establishment, and the establishment is getting a little bit nervous," he told a modest but enthusiastic crowd.

But he did take a swipe at the impeachment trial for scrambling his campaign plans. "As you well know, we have had to radically change our schedule in the last week - kind of toss it into the garbage can and begin anew," he said. "But we are going to be back here in Iowa in the next week every moment that we possibly can."

Mr Sanders planned to hold events across the north-western part of Iowa yesterday before the impeachment trial resumes today.

The day also brought good news for Ms Warren, who returned to Iowa for the first time since the impeachment trial with a town-hall-style event at a middle school in Muscatine. "Good not to be in Washington," she told reporters.

She was working her way through her selfie picture line when the news broke that she had received the coveted endorsement of The Des Moines Register.

In other endorsements last Saturday, the New Hampshire Union Leader backed Ms Klobuchar, while the Sioux City Journal in Iowa gave its support to Mr Biden.

Mr Biden got another boost when he picked up the endorsement of Representative Cindy Axne of Iowa, a freshman Democrat who unseated a Republican incumbent. Mr Biden has now been endorsed by two of Iowa's three Democrats in Congress.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2020, with the headline Democrats rush back to campaign trail in Iowa. Subscribe