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Capitol Ideas: Biden's vision bold and achievable, campaign manager says

Former Vice President Joe Biden takes a selfie with Sonia Elossaias of Cedar Rapids during a campaign event April 30 at Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids. It was Biden’s first visit to Iowa after announcing his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Former Vice President Joe Biden takes a selfie with Sonia Elossaias of Cedar Rapids during a campaign event April 30 at Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids. It was Biden’s first visit to Iowa after announcing his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Bold and pragmatic.

That’s the allure of Joe Biden’s candidacy, as described by the former vice president’s campaign manager.

Greg Schultz talked about the Biden campaign during a recent visit to Iowa. Biden has led most national polls and many in Iowa, although a recent Iowa Poll said Elizabeth Warren had overtaken him in the state.

It is no coincidence that with Warren surging, the Biden campaign is stressing a message that he has bold policy ideas but ones that can be accomplished.

The subtext is that some of Warren’s policies, such as Medicare for all, are ambitious but unlikely to ever get through Congress.

“(Biden’s) plans are bold and achievable, and I think that sets some contrasts with some of the other people in this race,” Schultz said during an interview in Des Moines. “People want bold action, and they want to see things move forward, and they want plans that are achievable.”

On health care, Biden has proposed building off the Affordable Care Act to add a public option for anybody who wants to buy in.

Schultz said that even though it isn’t as sweeping as Medicare for all, the public option still is a bold proposal. After all, it couldn’t even get through a Democrat-controlled Congress when the ACA was passed.

“He has a track record of getting something done. And he’ll work with others to do it. But no one can say that the Affordable Care Act was not a bold legislative success. No one can say that the assault weapons ban was not a bold legislative success. So he has passed bold legislation before,” Schultz said. “And he also is proposing things that are achievable.”

Even if some of Biden’s plans don’t go as far as other Democratic presidential candidates, they likely still would face significant hurdles in Congress, especially if it remains under split party control.

Schultz said Biden is the type of candidate — and would be the type of president — who could work with Republicans to pass significant legislation such as a public health care option or renewal of the assault weapons ban. As evidence, he noted the campaigning Biden did during the 2018 midterm elections for Democratic candidates in Kentucky, Alabama and North Dakota.

“I think he’s one of the few people that can actually go with a divided Congress and champion these causes and see them through,” Schultz said. “And Joe Biden will make his case directly to the American people in that situation.”

Schultz said to expect that Biden will stress his foreign policy experience given President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the Turkey-Syria border. The move has endangered Kurdish forces that were partners in the U.S. anti-terrorism efforts. The decision has been met with widespread criticism, including within the Republican Party.

In Iowa, Schultz said he is pleased with the campaign organization’s growth. Team Biden now features more than 20 offices across the state and nearly 100 staffers. That organization will be critical if the race continues to be as close as recent polling suggests.

For better or worse, the Iowa presidential precinct caucuses are as much about expectations as they are results — it’s not just where a candidate finishes in Iowa but where he or she finishes relative to expectations.

Schultz said the Biden campaign is competing hard and expects to win the Democratic caucuses in Iowa. But he also suggested more pressure is on other candidates, who he said are putting all their eggs in Iowa’s basket.

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“We are playing to win and feel good about it. I think the pressure is on the other people who have to win it,” Schultz said.

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.

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