Jan 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden deploys diverse surrogates ahead of the Iowa caucuses

Biden addresses a crowd on a stage with an American flag and Iowa flag in the background

Biden addresses voters in Iowa. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign is sending Hispanic, black, and Asia-Pacific-American members of Congress to Iowa next week as surrogates to help him make his closing argument to voters before the February caucuses.

The state of play: One of those surrogates, Rep. Ami Bera of California, tells Axios he'll focus on two points: Reminding voters how Biden campaigned in 2018 for several freshman Democrats who flipped GOP seats, and making the case that Biden's health care plan is better than rivals'.

  • Bera is a doctor, Congress' longest-serving Indian-American member and co-chair of a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee program to help the party keep competitive seats.

In a telephone interview, Bera suggested Biden is the best poised to help down-ballot Democrats in competitive districts. "When we think about who’d be the [2020] candidate that would give them the biggest boost, far and away it’s Joe Biden," he said.

Why it matters: Nine in 10 Iowans are white, but the campaign believes that showing the broad diversity of Biden's coalition can help to lock down support from voters before the caucuses — and cement the idea that Biden has the best shot at beating President Trump.

  • Biden is at 23% in Iowa, per a recent CBS/YouGov poll. That puts him in a three-way tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.
  • "We all represent different aspects of the Democratic caucus and the broad diversity of our caucus," Bera said. "Iowa is white, but there are pockets of Asian Americans in Des Moines, and it’s important not to take any voter for granted."
  • Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, the former Congressional Black Caucus chairman, and Rep. Lou Correa, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, are campaigning for Biden, too.

These surrogates are traveling around Iowa as part of the Biden campaign's broader "We Know Joe" bus tour.

  • Former Secretary of State John Kerry will highlight Biden's decades of experience with foreign policy, contrasting that with Trump amid the conflict with Iran.
  • State representatives from Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Florida also will be in Iowa on Biden's behalf, as well as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta.

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