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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 TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump 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 SandersDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks What's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? Young voters set turnout record, aiding Biden win MORE (I-Vt.) has seen his campaign on the upswing in Iowa, taking over the lead in multiple polls. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFormer Minnesota Democratic leader quits party Top cybersecurity official ousted by Trump Lawmakers question tech CEOs about content moderation in first post-election hearing MORE (D-Minn.) has ticked up in the polls and has hit double digits in three straight surveys, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks What's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? Alito to far-right litigants: The buffet is open 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 to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly Pavlich: Hollow calls for unity 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 LoebsackRundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day Iowa secretary of State requests recount in key House race Democrats poised for House gains with boost from Trump-won districts 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-CortezOcasio-Cortez defends Harry Styles wearing dress on Vogue cover: 'It looks wonderful' Democrats' squabbling vindicates Biden non-campaign GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarGOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE (D-Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations MORE (D-Mich.) — stumped for Sanders on Thursday and Friday.

Their fourth member of the squad, Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyGOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' Pelosi faces caucus divisions in Biden era Record number of Black women elected to Congress in 2020 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 HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans MORE (D-N.M.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyPelosi, Mnuchin continue COVID-19 talks amid dwindling odds for deal Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Hillicon Valley: Facebook to label posts if candidates prematurely declare victory | Supreme Court hears landmark B Google, Oracle copyright fight | House Dem accuses Ratcliffe of politicizing election security intel MORE (D-Ill.) and Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinWhat's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? On The Money: Biden, Democratic leaders push for lame-duck coronavirus deal | Business groups shudder at Sanders as Labor secretary | Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year Business groups shudder at thought of Sanders as Labor secretary 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.