Government

Joe Biden appeals to undecided, Trump-weary Democrats

'Who has the best chance of beating Trump and turning things around,' former vice president says in Anamosa stop

Joey Lewis of Marion (left) asks a question through ASL interpreter Jeremy Hanson (right) if Des Moines at a Joe Biden p
Joey Lewis of Marion (left) asks a question through ASL interpreter Jeremy Hanson (right) if Des Moines at a Joe Biden presidential campaign stop at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. Biden made a stop in Manchester as well. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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ANAMOSA — Joe Biden said he understands why Iowa Democrats are taking so long to make up their minds: Donald Trump.

Many of the Iowa Democrats who attend campaign events for myriad presidential candidates say they have not yet decided which candidate to support in the Feb. 3 caucuses. Polling supports a majority of them have not made up their minds or are willing to have their minds changed.

The former vice president said he feels confident those late-breaking Democrats will gravitate toward his campaign because of his experience.

“I think the reason they’re taking so much time this time … is because of Trump,” Biden said during an interview after a Thursday campaign event at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa. “And I think the overarching concern is who has the best chance of beating Trump and turning things around. And I think it goes to who they think is most likely to be able to win that’s consistent with their value set.

“That’s why I feel good, where we have support from across the spectrum, unlike a lot of people. So I just feel good about it.”

Anamosa is in Jones County, which Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016.

One man asked Biden — who he described as “the establishment candidate” and “status-quo Joe” — how he can assure Democrats that a Biden-Trump matchup would not end the same as Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.

Biden responded that he believes sexism played a role in Clinton’s defeat, and that he believes many voters feel duped by Trump’s 2016 campaign, but will not be in 2020.

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To support that point, Biden noted public polling that shows nearly half of Americans support removing Trump from office — 47 percent, according to a rolling average calculated by FiveThirtyEight.com.

“I think what Trump has done has awakened people to say, ‘My God, this isn’t who we are,’ ” Biden said during the interview.

Biden said he rejects the premise that he is the “safe choice” among the field of Democratic candidates.

“I think that to the extent that that (sentiment) exists — I think I’m seen as the guy who’s most ready to be president, as opposed to the safe pick,” Biden said. “I think it’s mostly about a sense of enthusiasm (about) not just who can move the country, restore the soul, but how you enrich the soul of the country.”

Earlier Thursday, the Biden campaign announced an endorsement from Abby Finkenauer, the freshman congresswoman from Dubuque who defeated a two-term Republican incumbent in 2018 in the 1st District, which Trump won in 2016.

Comments: (563) 383-2492; erin.murphy@lee.net

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