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Dems Blitzing Iowa, Early States       01/19 08:42

   NEWTON, Iowa (AP) -- As a winter storm barreled down on Iowa, Elizabeth 
Warren's campaign team struggled with whether to scrap a town hall scheduled at 
the old Maytag headquarters. 

   There was more than weather at play as the Massachusetts senator's campaign 
monitored the forecast and called expected attendees to gauge their willingness 
to brave the snow and whipping wind. For the Democratic presidential candidate, 
the event was probably one of her last chances to make a face-to-face appeal to 
voters in Iowa before the Feb. 3 caucus. So it went on as planned. 

   Warren, along with Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of 
Minnesota, is soon to be marooned in the Senate as a juror in President Donald 
Trump's impeachment trial. With the trial schedule up in the air, this weekend 
is likely the final full weekend of campaigning for those candidates before the 
kick-off caucus. 

   That's left their campaigns scrambling to make the most of their time in 
Iowa and the other early-voting states, and thinking of ways to stay on voters' 
radars during the trial in Washington. It's also given their 2020 rivals 
outside the Senate an opportunity to take advantage. 

   Klobuchar trails the top tier of contenders in polling and fundraising and 
needs a strong showing in Iowa to catapult her campaign into the next round of 
primaries. She insisted that the demands of the Senate trial wouldn't hurt her 
candidacy. 

   "I'm a mom and I can balance things really well," Klobuchar said during an 
event Saturday in Coralville. 

   But privately, the collision of the trial and the caucus has created anxiety 
among campaign advisers who face the prospect of their bosses being trapped in 
the Senate as silent jurors just as voters in Iowa are taking a final look at 
the candidates. 

   The full schedule for the Senate trial is uncertain, and it's possible it 
wraps up before the caucuses. But campaigns are planning for the prospect of 
the candidates being in Senate session Tuesday through Saturday next week, as 
well as five or six days the following week. The fourth Democratic senator 
still in the race is Michael Bennet of Colorado.

   Well-funded candidates such as Warren and Sanders are considering putting 
private planes on hold in Washington so they can quickly fly to Iowa for 
late-night events after the trial wraps up. Sanders has already scheduled an 8 
p.m. rally in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday,  taking advantage of the one-hour time 
difference between Washington and Iowa. 

   Campaign surrogates are planning to headline events during the week that the 
candidates can appear at via livestream video. Warren's team has Reps. Ayanna 
Pressley of Massachusetts and Katie Porter of California on standby, as well as 
Julian Castro, the former Obama housing secretary who dropped out of the 
presidential race this month. Sanders' wife, Jane Sanders, will headline an 
event in Las Vegas next weekend and will introduce her husband, who will 
participate by video. 

   Still, the Senate schedule has increased the pressure on the candidates to 
make the most of what may be their last free weekend. Warren had three events 
scheduled Saturday with influential interest groups. Klobuchar was headlining 
three town halls in eastern Iowa. Sanders was campaigning in New Hampshire, the 
next state on the primary calendar, before heading back to Iowa on Monday. 

   "I wish I could be back in New Hampshire and Iowa, but I will be in 
Washington doing my constitutional duty," Sanders told voters during an event 
Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 

   The Senate trial has added a layer of uncertainty to the political climate 
in Iowa, where the Democratic race remains exceedingly close. Recent polls show 
Warren, Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg the former 
mayor of South Bend, Indiana, in a virtual tie, with Klobuchar trailing behind. 

   Biden and Buttigieg will largely have the state to themselves once the 
impeachment trial begins. Biden and Buttigieg do not serve in the Senate, and 
neither currently has any other job. 

   Biden has events scheduled in Iowa four out of the next five days. Buttigieg 
plans to be in the state nearly every day until the caucuses, focusing in 
particular on smaller Iowa cities and towns less often seen by his top rivals. 

   Last week, Buttigieg traveled across northwest Iowa, where Republicans 
outnumber Democrats but where the minority party still has active county party 
organizations. In sub-zero weather, he drew 100 people in Algona, population 
about 5,400. It was his second visit to the town, one where no other candidate 
polling above 1 percent has campaigned. 

   On Thursday, he met about as many in Emmetsburg, where only Biden had 
visited before, and twice as many in Arnold's Park, a popular summertime 
lake-area vacation spot, where only Sanders had previously stopped. 

   While those areas are less populous than Iowa's larger cities, they still 
have delegates up for grabs that could make the difference on caucus night in a 
close race. The Associated Press will call the winner of the Iowa caucuses 
based on the number of state delegate equivalents the candidates receive on 
caucus night. 


(KR)

 
 
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