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Biden's team sees Iowa as crucial to nabbing 2020 nomination

Joe Biden - AP image

As former Vice President Joe Biden prepares for a potential White House campaign, his associates increasingly see a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses as crucial to his ability to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Posted: Mar 27, 2019 7:46 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As former Vice President Joe Biden prepares for a potential White House campaign, his associates increasingly see a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses as crucial to his ability to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Although Biden hasn't yet decided whether to launch a third presidential campaign, one of his top associates, Pete Kavanaugh, was in Des Moines on Wednesday meeting with potential senior staff and longtime supporters. He discussed a senior role on Biden's team with Jessica Vanden Berg, a former state Democratic Party executive director who has worked on past presidential caucus campaigns.

The move underscores the importance Biden's team is placing on a commanding finish in Iowa. As a former vice president with strong name recognition, Biden needs to do well in Iowa in hopes of charging into the South Carolina primary, where his national security profile and enduring popularity among African-Americans would pose a challenge for newer faces trying to break through.

But to win in Iowa, Biden would have to establish the type of sophisticated, on-the-ground political operation that he was unable to build the last time he ran, in 2007. He finished a disappointing fifth in 2008 in a race dominated by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, quickly dropping out of the campaign.

That's why the conversations with Vanden Berg could be significant. She's a homegrown national operative, leading the Iowa Democratic Party more than a decade ago. She's since held senior roles in presidential campaigns and the North Carolina Democratic Party as well as in Senate races for former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

"She's good. She's very good. And if she's the state director or the state whatever, that makes sense," former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said. "That would be a good hire."

Like other sources for this story, the people who described Kavanaugh's discussion with Vanden Berg spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on Biden's strategy. Vanden Berg and Kavanaugh declined to respond to requests for comment.

Biden associates and others have said no offers have been extended in Iowa or elsewhere, though they are charting out their list of names and where they would likely be slotted. There has been discussion within Biden's circle and some potential hires of possible salary ranges for some posts, with the important caveat that there is no campaign fundraising organization in place yet to pay staffers.

Biden's team has also begun focusing on key staffing moves in South Carolina, home to the first Southern primary a few weeks after the caucuses.

Aides to Biden have spoken with Kendall Corley, a veteran Democratic strategist with strong ties to 2018 gubernatorial candidate James Smith and a key adviser on Alabama Sen. Doug Jones' 2017 campaign. Besides being recommended by Smith, Corley was also backed by Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who is the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and a Biden supporter.

Biden's political future has been the subject of speculation for months as more than a dozen other Democrats have entered the race. His uneven performance during some public events have only raised questions about his readiness for a grueling campaign.

During a Tuesday speech in New York, Biden lamented his role in the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings that undermined Anita Hill's credibility, saying, "I wish I could have done something." His comments were condemned on social media, with many noting he was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time Hill testified about sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas.

Last month, he was forced to walk back a comment that Vice President Mike Pence was a "decent guy" after Democratic activists, including former "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon, criticized the remark in light of Pence's opposition to gay rights.

As Biden waits to decide and occasionally stumbles, it leaves an opening for other centrists to assert themselves in the race. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, for instance, has told people he's considering entering the 2020 contest. McAuliffe has long viewed Biden as someone who could block his path to the Democratic nomination.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 3751
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Hennepin688981130
Ramsey28948512
Anoka23196232
Dakota23102194
Washington14590120
Stearns14314121
St. Louis9280117
Scott881056
Wright827145
Olmsted702536
Sherburne608243
Clay521359
Carver501315
Kandiyohi432024
Rice427738
Blue Earth426617
Crow Wing376237
Otter Tail332725
Chisago326914
Benton317253
Nobles313731
Winona292031
Douglas278439
Mower270623
Polk266226
Morrison241730
Lyon228712
Beltrami227518
McLeod226517
Becker217619
Goodhue216930
Steele20568
Itasca202223
Isanti199517
Carlton198417
Todd187414
Nicollet169426
Mille Lacs161231
Freeborn15966
Le Sueur153511
Brown151015
Cass149910
Pine14298
Waseca141811
Meeker139011
Roseau12475
Martin121221
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Wabasha11041
Redwood101720
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Dodge9110
Watonwan8824
Wadena8537
Sibley8194
Rock8019
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Houston7694
Fillmore7480
Pipestone74718
Kanabec67714
Yellow Medicine67612
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Swift6149
Murray6064
Faribault5902
Pope5641
Clearwater5389
Stevens5333
Marshall5289
Jackson5181
Lake4437
Wilkin4115
Koochiching4106
Lac qui Parle3984
Unassigned38259
Lincoln3721
Norman3638
Big Stone3332
Mahnomen3164
Grant2956
Kittson2408
Red Lake2283
Traverse1521
Lake of the Woods1021
Cook790

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 234817

Reported Deaths: 2486
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34631341
Linn14655168
Scott1166189
Black Hawk11194139
Woodbury10622133
Johnson979337
Dubuque941594
Story698323
Pottawattamie664871
Dallas657159
Sioux380529
Webster371639
Cerro Gordo367649
Marshall357647
Clinton341444
Buena Vista313114
Des Moines298621
Muscatine298271
Warren291714
Plymouth284444
Wapello263772
Jones235917
Jasper229746
Lee225617
Marion210222
Carroll203624
Bremer200212
Henry19137
Crawford181016
Benton174023
Tama156641
Washington149715
Jackson148814
Delaware147021
Dickinson143811
Boone142412
Mahaska133328
Wright13007
Clay12254
Buchanan122010
Hardin121011
Hamilton117713
Page11664
Kossuth11608
Clayton11399
Cedar112513
Harrison110832
Floyd110219
Calhoun10907
Fayette108712
Mills10858
Lyon10619
Butler10576
Winneshiek102713
Poweshiek102013
Iowa100213
Winnebago94825
Cherokee9474
Chickasaw9084
Hancock9008
Sac8978
Louisa89321
Grundy88911
Allamakee87013
Mitchell8369
Cass83524
Union8166
Appanoose80713
Humboldt8015
Shelby79511
Emmet78626
Guthrie77115
Franklin76021
Jefferson7512
Madison7174
Unassigned7050
Palo Alto6734
Keokuk6477
Pocahontas5984
Howard5809
Osceola5411
Greene5401
Ida53013
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Davis4819
Taylor4773
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