Feb 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pete Buttigieg's campaign doesn't think he needs to win Iowa

Pete Buttigieg in Waterloo, Iowa. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

DES MOINES, Iowa — Pete Buttigieg's campaign has done 50 town halls in the last five weeks statewide and he's visited 25 of the 31 counties that went from Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016 — but aides say he doesn’t have to win the caucuses to become the nominee.

What they're saying: “In the first four states — but especially in Iowa and New Hampshire — we need to demonstrate that we are viable for Super Tuesday and for the larger primary," senior advisor Michael Halle told reporters at a Bloomberg News roundtable.

Why it matters: Democratic campaigns are already trying to redefine what will constitute a win in Iowa in what looks like a four-way fight coming Monday.

  • This year is the first time we will get raw vote totals for each candidate in Iowa — not just delegate count.
  • That means there could be multiple "winners" coming out of Monday and different ways for campaigns to tout their momentum heading into New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.
  • "It depends on the spread [of votes] here and in New Hampshire,” said Hari Sevugan, deputy campaign manager. “We're going to have to do well, there's no question about that. But that does not necessarily mean we have to win" in Iowa.
  • “This is a contest about delegates, ultimately," said Sevugan. "We see it not as a series of state contests, but as a series of district-level contests to accumulate delegates because ultimately that is what is going to matter."

The latest: Polls show a close race between Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren.

  • Buttigieg's closing argument to Iowans has focused on contrasting himself with Sanders and Biden, and reminding voters that he is a Washington outsider.
  • "The data that we see is literally every poll showing Washington experience becoming less and less popular," said Lis Smith, senior advisor to the campaign. "Washington is a symptom of everything that’s wrong."

The bottom line: Winning begets more winning, but watch for the campaigns to highlight a message of momentum and enthusiasm after the caucuses.

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Clashes erupted between police and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

Massive demonstrations put police response to unrest in the spotlight

Washington State Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd in Seattle during a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The response of some officers during demonstrations against police brutality in the U.S. has been criticized for being excessive by some officials and Black Lives Matter leaders.

Why it matters: The situation is tense across the U.S., with reports of protesters looting and burning buildings. While some police have responded with restraint and by monitoring the protests, others have used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets and other devices to disperse protesters and, in some cases, journalists.

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U.S. cities crack down on protesters

The scene near the 5th police precinct during a demonstration calling for justice for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Saturday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.