Government

Pete Buttigieg ramps up Iowa campaign, opening 20 offices including in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City

2020 presidential candidate tours Cedar Rapids flood recovery areas

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, center, discusses the impact of Cedar River flooding in 2008 and 2016 with Iowa Sen. Rob Hogg, Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker and former Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston during a walking tour of the NewBo-Czech Village area of Cedar Rapids on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, center, discusses the impact of Cedar River flooding in 2008 and 2016 with Iowa Sen. Rob Hogg, Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker and former Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston during a walking tour of the NewBo-Czech Village area of Cedar Rapids on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — With campaign field offices opening in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg on Monday began ramping up his Iowa campaign five months ahead of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Buttigieg is opening 20 field offices in Iowa in the 20 days before the Polk County Steak Fry, the next cattle call for the 2020 Democratic field.

In addition, Buttigieg is adding 36 people to his staff, bringing his campaign to nearly 100 full-time staff on the ground in Iowa — with the vast majority dedicated to organizing Iowans ahead of the caucuses.

Although his poll numbers are consistently in single digits, Buttigieg said he’s laying the groundwork to deliver a win on Feb. 3.

“We’ve managed to overtake approximately about 20 of my competitors so far,” he said while visiting the Hawkeye Area Labor Council Labor Day picnic at Hawkeye Downs on Monday. “To deal with the last four is going to take more work.”

He noted that some campaigns have been active in Iowa for more than a year “and they’re not necessarily doing better than we are.”

“So I think the important thing is to have a compelling message and, of course, the resources to be able run the ground game you want,” the South Bend, Ind., mayor said. “The fact that I’ve led the Democratic field in gathering resources now pays off as we go to deploy those resources, plow them into the soil of places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and beyond.”

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Based on the passion, energy and momentum he sees in Iowa, Buttigieg says his strategy appears to be paying off.

“It may well be down to the last few days that we see the certainty that we’re likely to win,” he said, drawing a comparison to 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry, whose campaign didn’t catch fire until the final days before the caucuses.

Earlier Monday, Buttigieg took a walking tour with local leaders of the Newbo-Czech Village area of Cedar Rapids that was damaged during 2008 flooding. Later, he had a roundtable discussion about climate change with about a dozen people.

He said it’s important to “take issues like climate change out of the abstract and bring them closer.”

Buttigieg talked about the urgency of taking action because climate change “is not happening at the North Pole only” and is not just an issue for the future, he said.

“It’s happening today,” Buttigieg said, so communities and the government have to deal with what’s happening as well as prepare for future climate change impact.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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