AMES — They had their standout moments under the bright lights and nationwide reach of the Oct. 15 presidential debate.
Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar both contrasted their Medicare option plans with the Medicare for All plans favored by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
They then did what presidential candidates regularly do: They came to Iowa with hopes of capitalizing on the moment.
The Oct. 15 debate, Buttigieg said in an interview, “was a great chance to first of all emphasize that I’m running to be the president after (Donald) Trump and to solve problems boldly in a way that unifies America instead of making people choose between either solutions or unity.”
“For those reasons and more, it was a good night for us and a chance to really catapult the momentum that we’ve been seeing in Iowa, really since the (Polk County Democrats’) Steak Fry” on Sept. 19.
The Buttigieg campaign reported raising more than $1 million in the 24 hours immediately following the nationally televised debate, which had 12 of the Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination.
During his post-debate Iowa swing, Buttigieg held a town hall at Iowa State University that drew 900 people, according to an estimate from a school official.
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ISU provided more good news for the Buttigieg campaign Thursday, when a new ISU/Civiqs poll showed him moving into second place in Iowa, behind only Warren. He’s now at 15.8 percent, double his 7.5 percent support in a Sept. 16 poll.
In the Real Clear Politics’ rolling average of polling on the presidential race in Iowa, Buttiegieg comes in third, behind Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“More than anything, I can just feel when I’m doing appearances around the state that the support for us is starting to consolidate,” Buttigieg said.
KLOBUCHAR & THE VIKINGS
Klobuchar is hoping for a similar surge and said her post-debate trip to Iowa felt like it may be the start.
Her current Real Clear Politics polling average is 2.5 percent; she peaked at 4.7 percent in late September.
Klobuchar drew roughly 100 people to an event at a brewery in Cedar Falls, about 150 to an event in Davenport and packed a small home in Newton for a house party event. They were among the stops on a 10-city, 11-event, 3-day bus tour of eastern and central Iowa.
On Sunday, Klobuchar also stopped at a Des Moines bar where Minnesota Vikings fans gather to watch their team play. She was greeted warmly by the patrons adorned in their Vikings gear. She drank purple beer and even blew on a fan’s Gjallarhorn, a horn Vikings fans blow to celebrate touchdowns and other big moments.
“It feels much different and very positive,” Klobuchar said during an interview on her campaign bus. “I think it’s because I was able to define myself and was able to make myself really clear (in the debate). Also, I mentioned the Heartland a lot, the fact that it’s not flyover country to me. I actually live here.”
Klobuchar also highlighted the recent endorsements her campaign has picked up, including those from Democratic state lawmakers Liz Mathis of Hiawatha and Andy McKean of Anamosa, who was the longest-serving Republican state lawmaker in Iowa history before switching parties earlier this year to become a Democrat.
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“I think those are really good supporters to have and really are examples of the kind of people that I am bringing with me on this campaign,” Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar said she has confidence her campaign staff will be able to capitalize on any interest generated by her debate performance.
“We just really have a great team, and I think that’s going to matter,” Klobuchar said. “So the way you sustain it is by not just having a viral moment. So many have had viral moments. Because a viral moment is just that: It’s a moment. Instead, you need to really sustain it with a long-haul strategy.”
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