Former Vice President Joe Biden’s eight-day ‘No Malarkey’ bus tour across Iowa isn’t full of shenanigans.
In fact, it’s really quite serious.
Biden spent the first five days of the 660-mile tour discussing a variety of weighty topics with voters in the first-in-the-nation caucus state including an idea he’s been repeating all year. He wants to restore the soul of America.
His mission begins by using words such as “honesty” and “compassion” and “dignity” over and over again in an appeal to the hearts of the voters in the heartland.
The rest of the world, Biden said in Charles City late Wednesday night, makes fun of America. They call the country “naive, because we think fair play matters.”
“We’re naive because we think honesty matters. We’re naive because we, in fact, treat people with respect — not everybody — but by-in-large, that’s what we’ve done,” Biden said. “And the center of those basic, fundamental values are in rural America and small town America. That’s not a joke. You all talk about Midwestern values, but they’re not just Midwestern. They are more prominent and consequential than you think they are.”
The Midwestern values Biden is referring to were summed up during his stump speech in Emmetsburg Monday morning.
“You don’t give a friend a hand and say, ‘I’m with you. I’m going to be there,’ and then say, ‘I didn’t realize it was going to be tough. I didn’t realize it was going to be inconvenient,”’ Biden said. “What you say is what you’re going to do, and even if it gets difficult to do it, you stick with it.”
That kind of attitude has won him some influential friends, including former Iowa Governor and First Lady Tom and Christie Vilsack, who have already joined him on several stops of the “No Malarkey” tour. It also earned him an endorsement from former Secretary of State John Kerry, who will join Biden on the tour in Iowa today.
Christie Vilsack describes Biden as a “rock solid guy” who she’s know for more than 30 years every time she talks about him on the campaign trail.
Governor Vilsack calls Biden’s plans “realistic but progressive.”
“What we really need is a pro. We need somebody who understands the world and knows these world leaders,” Tom Vilsack said. “I am very confident in saying this about the candidates in this race and we’ve got some great candidates, but there is no one in this race who has the knowledge, the experience and the relationships with those world leaders than Joe Biden.”
Biden has also gained the trust and support of many local elected officials across Iowa, several of whom have already joined him at various stops of the tour. Former state Senator Jack Kibbie jumped on the bandwagon in Emmetsburg, state Representative Todd Prichard joined in Charles City (though he has not endorsed) and state Senator Herman Quirmbach introduced Biden in Ames.
Kibbie recalled Biden’s time in the U.S. Senate, saying even Republicans thought Biden was “smart,” “fair,” and “honest.”
Quirmbach called Biden a man of honor.
“He is not going to lie to us 13,000 times,” Quirmbach said. “He is caring. He is a man of compassion. He respects the constitution. Joe Biden will make America proud of its President again.”
The message is resonating with Iowa voters.
“He has a lot of integrity,”said Kathy Hanzek, a retiree in Iowa Falls. “He’s very honest and I’d love that in our former Vice President Joe Biden. He’d make a great President. He really would.”
And in Algona, Ellen Laage, 69, of Fenton, said she sees potential in Biden because “he is very compassionate and we need that in our White House.”
She’s not sure whether she’ll caucus for Biden, though, because her number one issue is “to get Trump out no matter what,” and she’s not entirely sure yet what that means.
“That is a big question right now,” Laage said. “It will be interesting to see, but it’s also scary. Everything’s scary right now.”
The question of who’s going to beat Trump has Dennis Howe, a retiree from Whittemore, waffling between a few contenders.
Pete Buttigieg is on Howe’s short list, but Howe has “some personal issues” with him. He likes Senator Amy Klobuchar as well, but he said there’s an “electability issue” there.
“We’ve gotta have someone there who can beat Trump and I think Joe Biden would give him the best battle. I really do,” Howe said. “There are two or three top contenders who have different qualities, but at this point in time, I think maybe Joe because most of us are looking for somebody who can step into the job, be a world-wide leader and restore decency, because that’s what we need.”
Kathy Mehan is also still trying to figure things out, but she said Biden impressed her.
“I’m watching the way they address the country,” Mehan said about the presidential contenders. “The way they act with dignity and as a quality human being.”
Mike Wentzel, 65, and a self-described “Kennedy Democrat” from Emmetsburg has no doubt Biden is the “only one that can beat Trump.”
“We need a new President and he says what he means and he means what he says,” Wentzel said. “We need to restore credibility to the office. We need to have America looked up to and not down to.”
by Paige Godden