Senate impeachment proceedings will officially begin in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, finally giving us a chance to see the answer to the question we’ve been asking for some time: how does this change caucus campaign strategies?
There are multiple senators that will be stuck in D.C. for impeachment, leaving Joe Biden, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer free to roam the state, campaigning as they wish.
Surrogates At The Ready
Each campaign has amassed a number of national surrogates for them, many of whom have already been out to Iowa at least once.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has built quite a list of high-profile surrogates, including Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Congressman Ro Khanna, former state Sen. Nina Turner, Dr. Cornel West, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s, a ton of celebrity endorsements, and many more.
It remains to be seen if Iowa will be viewed as a “all hands on deck” situation, but expect to see at least a few of these people in Iowa between now and the caucus.
Despite being up in the polls in Iowa right now, the Sanders campaign is not getting complacent. Dr. Cornel West and national co-chair Nina Turner stopped by the Starting Line office for a chat about their feelings on the race leading up to Feb. 3.
“We’re proud of our ground game, and we know what it takes to win Iowa,” Turner explained. “We know that Iowa is very communal, this is not the type of state that you’re going to win on social media; you can’t just be a social media warrior. You gotta knock on doors, you gotta make phone calls, you gotta talk to people at grocery stores, you gotta have the types of meetings that we’re having. People are receptive here.”
Playing to Win
Dr. West acknowledged their campaign’s work ethic, and noticed a similarity in the people of Iowa. He hopes that can stimulate a bond.
“The beautiful thing is the resiliency of the people of Iowa; it’s really quite an amazing thing to witness,” Dr. West said. “Way out in the country, in rural areas, they’re struggling trying to keep the grocery store going, fighting to keep their organization going, people got little, small churches and the mosques and the synagogues. And that’s part-and-parcel of the fighting spirit of the Sander’s campaign.”
Overall, their campaign isn’t planning any big strategy change. They’re out in front in Iowa with little time left to go, and Turner explained that while the feel of events may change, they’re still putting their heads down.
“I know for some, it might seem like, ‘oh, he’s off the trail so they have to do something different.’ No, we just gonna do more of the same. Dr. West might be on the road a little more, but he’s always been on the road,” Turner said. “Don’t get caught up in the trap of polls; they’re a snapshot in time. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. You’re thrilled when your candidate is up. When they’re not up, you say, ‘to hell with the poll.’”
Despite their deemphasizing of polls, they did admit that being up provides, at the very least, positive energy.
“Being up right now really gives our team the boost we need to push through, but you can’t rest on that,” Turner explained. “The 19-day [now 16] countdown just makes it much more important that we continue doing what we can to win.”
Differences in Messaging?
In light of the news-cycle that came out of the private conversation between Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sanders has been reserved in comments.
The two made quick work of the conversation during the most recent debate, though they did have a quick engagement afterward that drove the news cycle further.
Turner commented on the situation, in which she was more blunt than Senator Sanders himself was on the debate stage.
“In terms of the rhetoric, we’re a message,” Turner said. “This is a campaign about changing the material conditions of people in this country, in the ways in which the Senator has a vision to do that. Dr. West and I may deliver it different than the Senator, but we’re in tune, in rhythm with him.”
In regard to the discrepancy with Warren, West said their job is to continue to be an effective part of that message, nothing else.
“For us, we don’t want to be distracting. We’ve got our eyes on the prize, in terms of the momentum of solidarity of all of us coming together,” Dr. West explained. “Myself, I don’t like any attempt to tarnish the personal integrity of my brother, but that’s just my personal opinion, in that sense.”
The plan will remain largely the same — talk to people where they are about the issues that matter there.
“Just talk to the people about their suffering. We just met with the Iowa Black Caucus, they’re talking about their concerns that, one, people need to know that black people exist in Iowa; that’s real,” Turner said.
“In the end, it’s really all about integrity and solidarity; that we vouch for the personal integrity of our dear brother Bernie Sanders,” Dr. West explained. “We don’t want anything to stand in the way of the momentum of that solidarity, which is multi-racial, multi-gendered, multi-generational, multi-religious and multi-regional, and it has to do with issues of truth and justice.”
By Josh Cook