Jan 9, 2020

Biden deploys diverse surrogates ahead of the Iowa caucuses

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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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Clergy of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church expressed furor and confusion over President Trump's visit on Monday, which he claimed was to honor the establishment after George Floyd protestors sparked a small fire on the property Sunday night.

The big picture: Park rangers and military police deployed tear gas and physical force to disperse peaceful protestors from Lafayette Park, which surrounds the White House, so Trump could walk to "pay respects" to the church — and a St. John's rector on the scene revealed in a Facebook post that she was left "coughing" from the tear gas.

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted early Tuesday that he'd just left the Bronx and the police commissioner was sending additional assistance to problem areas. Protesters were "overwhelmingly peaceful" Monday, he said. "But some people tonight had nothing to do with the cause + stole + damaged instead," he added.