What began as a professional relationship between an Iowan and a long-shot presidential candidate morphed into more than a decade of friendship with one of the most well-known families in American politics.
Jim Mowrer walked into Joe Biden’s Iowa campaign office in 2007 the day after he came home from a yearlong tour in Iraq. Dressed in a suit and ready to get to work, Mowrer told Biden’s sister, Valerie, and the small team assembled there he wanted to work for the Delaware senator-turned presidential candidate.
Why Biden? Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
“I served as an intelligence analyst locating roadside bombs and IEDs. They were really just cutting through the uparmored Humvees that we were driving at the time,” Mowrer says in a Biden 2020 TV ad. “One day I saw this new vehicle that looked like it would survive anything … it was so much safer for our troops in Iraq. I found out that this senator that I really had never heard of, named Joe Biden, was the one who was responsible for getting these MRAPs to Iraq.”
In 2007, the Senate approved a defense spending bill that included then-Sen. Biden’s $23.6 billion amendment for MRAPs.
“While we argue in Washington about the best course of action in Iraq, our troops on the ground face improvised explosive devices, rocket propelled grenades, explosively formed penetrators, sniper fire, and suicide bombers every day,” Biden said at the time.
When Mowrer told Valerie Biden Owens about his time in Iraq and how the MRAP vehicles impacted his fellow soldiers, Mowrer said “she was immediately like, ‘Joe needs to hear about this.'”
After some time volunteering for the campaign, Biden offered him a job as veterans outreach coordinator and “that’s when I got to know him,” Mowrer told Starting Line. “Of course at the time, when he was running in 2007, he was kind of an underdog, underfunded, so it was a pretty small campaign. I got to spend a good amount of time with him on the ground in Iowa, got to spend time with Jill, driving her to different events, and then also (Biden’s sons) Beau and Hunter, and especially Beau.”
Proud to be a member of The Biden Gang since 2007 pic.twitter.com/nZwZo9gOHa
— Jim Mowrer (@jimmowrer) August 14, 2020
Mowrer and Beau Biden were in Baghdad together for about six months in 2009 and became close friends when they met up after work to eat dinner, watch movies and talk about life back home. When Beau died of brain cancer in 2015, Mowrer was seated in the third row at his funeral.
“Some could say that the relationship with the Bidens started out as somewhat political,” Mowrer said, “but very quickly was personal relationships, especially when I was with Beau in Iraq.”
Through his friendship with Beau and his work at the Pentagon during the Obama Administration, Mowrer came to know the Biden family for more than their politics.
“Very few people actually get to know candidates for president, particularly personally,” Mowrer said. “So most people see things on TV and ads and speeches and things like that, and I’m in the unique position — and of course I never thought I’d be in this position, I’m just a kid that grew up on an Iowa farm — but to feel as if you know and have a personal relationship with the person who will hopefully be president.”
Mowrer’s one-minute ad weaves a soldier’s personal experiences with a campaign message of why Biden would be a more effective commander in chief than President Trump. At the time MRAPs showed up in Iraq, Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a committee he served on for more than a decade. As Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden “dealt with every one of the major world leaders that are out there right now” and was known for the folksy but strategic diplomacy he exerted around the world.
“The United States’ standing in the world will be even more diminished if Donald Trump is elected to another four years,” Mowrer said. “And with Joe Biden we have an opportunity to restore our standing in the world. The United States, frankly, we are not the United States I think of post-Soviet Union, where we enjoyed for many decades this unique strength and standing in the world. We’re not there anymore. We do have the opportunity to restore that. If we don’t, the consequences are going to be dire.”
When talking with friends serving in the military and working at the Pentagon, Mowrer said “they feel like they’re just trying to bide time and keep it all together as long as they can.”
Asked whether he would serve again in the Pentagon or in any capacity within a Biden administration, Mowrer gave the “political” answer.
“Obviously you hate even the idea of putting the cart before the horse, right? The first step and the most important step for all of us is that Joe Biden is elected president.”
If asked to serve by a President Biden, or (most) any president, Mowrer said, “that’s a very difficult thing to say no to.”
In the event there are any undecided voters left — A Monmouth University Poll released today suggests 2% of Iowa voters are undecided — Mowrer wants them to envision the “civility and unity to politics and to the American people” that Biden would bring to the White House.
“Just think about the days after the election, the months and the years, and just what that’s going to look like if Donald Trump’s reelected,” Mowrer said. “The chaos, the division, versus what I believe will happen under a President Biden. It seems like everyday he’s on the campaign trail saying ‘I’ll be your president whether you vote for me or not.’ And whether the Republicans and Democrats in Congress or elsewhere decide to try to work together, Joe Biden, I know, is committed to doing that.”
By Elizabeth Meyer
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