Stuck in DC for impeachment, senators hold ground in Iowa

Stuck in DC for impeachment, senators hold ground in Iowa
© Greg Nash

BURLINGTON, Iowa — Since President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pitches Goya Foods products on Twitter Sessions defends recusal: 'I leave elected office with my integrity intact' Former White House physician Ronny Jackson wins Texas runoff MORE’s impeachment trial kicked off nearly two weeks ago, three key senators in the Democratic field have been cooped up in Washington and unable to campaign across Iowa ahead of Monday's caucuses.

Fortunately for them, their time away doesn't seem to have mattered.

Since the trial started Jan. 21, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden aspires to become America's auto-pen president Progressive Mondaire Jones wins NY primary to replace Nita Lowey OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden pledges carbon-free power by 2035 in T environment plan | Trump administration has been underestimating costs of carbon pollution, government watchdog finds | Trump to move forward with rollback of bedrock environmental law MORE (I-Vt.) has seen his campaign on the upswing in Iowa, taking over the lead in multiple polls. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Fauci says focus should be on pausing reopenings rather than reverting to shutdowns; WHO director pleads for international unity in pandemic response State election officials warn budget cuts could lead to November chaos Biden strikes populist tone in blistering rebuke of Trump, Wall Street MORE (D-Minn.) has ticked up in the polls and has hit double digits in three straight surveys, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenProgressive Mondaire Jones wins NY primary to replace Nita Lowey Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel Biden campaign announces second round of staff hires in Arizona MORE (D-Mass.) remains firmly in the pack, though her support has dropped slightly in that time.

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As for the remaining two top-tier candidates, the support levels for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign slams Trump's Rose Garden event as 'sad affair' New shutdowns add to Trump woes CNN cuts away from Trump's 'campaign-type' Rose Garden speech MORE and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Biden campaign hires top cybersecurity officials to defend against threats Biden strikes populist tone in blistering rebuke of Trump, Wall Street MORE have remained relatively static despite both candidates having barnstormed the state throughout.

“Given the importance of social media and tele town halls, technology, all that kind of stuff, the folks who’ve been in D.C. during impeachment, they were able to stay in touch with a lot of folks in Iowa. I think that’s been lost on some folks,” said Rep. Dave LoebsackDavid (Dave) Wayne LoebsackRepublican Mariannette Miller-Meeks to face Democrat Rita Hart in open House race in Iowa Key races to watch in Tuesday's primaries House Democrats make initial ad buys in battleground states MORE (D-Iowa), a Buttigieg supporter. “They haven’t been here physically as much as they would have liked to been, but they’ve still been able to stay in touch with their folks.” 

Since the start of the trial, Biden and Buttigieg have spent all but two days in the Hawkeye State. However, having set up shop in the state has not led to a rise in the polls.

“It does seem as if all of the coverage of impeachment has frozen the presidential race in place,” one Biden supporter said.
 
They added that The Des Moines Register didn’t lead with the caucuses on multiple occasions this week. In fact, Saturday’s front page featured the Senate GOP defeating the push for additional witnesses.
 

"I was always very skeptical about the conventional wisdom that the impeachment trial would be this major detriment for Warren, Sanders, and Klobuchar because they couldn’t physically be in Iowa," the Biden supporter said. "To the contrary. I think I saw more of Klobuchar on TV during the trial being interviewed than in any previous point.”

The Minnesota Democrat has done a total of 27 national TV hits along with 20 local media interviews since the trial kicked off. 

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Along with being a constant presence on the airwaves, Klobuchar held three tele-town halls — two aimed at Iowans across the state and another for senior citizens. More than 35,500 Iowans tuned into those, according to a campaign memo released Friday morning.

All three campaigns have relied heavily on surrogates in that time as well, with Sanders and Warren holding events continuously featuring high profile lawmakers, celebrities and their own families.

Three members of 'the squad' — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezIvanka Trump pitches Goya Foods products on Twitter Ocasio-Cortez fires back after Trump says she's 'not talented in many ways' Progressive Mondaire Jones wins NY primary to replace Nita Lowey MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOver 570 women registered to run for office, topping 2018 record Analysis: 23 million families could face eviction by October due to pandemic Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' MORE (D-Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOver 570 women registered to run for office, topping 2018 record Democrats see victory in Trump culture war The Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue MORE (D-Mich.) — stumped for Sanders on Thursday and Friday.

Their fourth member of the squad, Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOver 570 women registered to run for office, topping 2018 record Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' The Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue MORE (D-Mass.), got a standing ovation from voters in Ames, where she headlined a late rally for Warren.

Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Deb HaalandDebra HaalandNative American lawmaker: 'Redskins' name change 'should have been made a long time ago' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Internal watchdog probing Park Police actions toward Lafayette Square protesters | Democrats detail their .5T green infrastructure plan | Green groups challenge Trump water rules rollback Internal watchdog probing Park Police actions toward Lafayette Square protesters MORE (D-N.M.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds House Democrats press Twitter, Facebook, Google for reports on coronavirus disinformation Dingell pushes provision to curtail drunk driving in House infrastructure package MORE (D-Ill.) and Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinUS, Mexico set for new post-NAFTA trade era House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Warren, Levin introduce legislation for federal contact tracing program MORE (D-Mich.), former HUD Secretary Julián Castro and Warren’s husband Bruce Mann — accompanied by the family dog — also hopped around the state for the Massachusetts senator.

“This is an opportunity for us to highlight the new faces of this campaign, to show the breadth and depth of surrogates,” said Misty Rebik, Sanders’s Iowa state director. 

But the senators’ absence has clearly dimmed turnout, though that is set to change as the Senate passed a resolution on Friday paving the way for President Trump's acquittal. The chamber will reconvene on Monday, freeing up the 2020 candidates to campaign in Iowa over the weekend.

Pressley addressed a few dozen voters in a cavernous hall on the campus of Iowa State University, a fraction of the crowd Warren herself would have drawn.

“It’s hard if you’ve got two favorites to pick the one you haven’t seen," said Rob Sand, the state auditor, who remains uncommitted.