Former Vice President Joe Biden is not campaigning in Iowa this weekend despite nearly all of his 2020 Democrat competitors descending on the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
Bloomberg reported on Saturday that 19 Democrat presidential candidates will be in Iowa during the weekend. The group, one of the biggest to date, will campaign across the state at large and small events, respectively.
Top tier candidates such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will mix with lesser-known presidential hopefuls such as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) at Saturday’s Capital City Pride Festival in Des Moines. On Sunday, the candidates will address the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids. The event, which is packed with 1,400 potential caucus-goers is considered one of Iowa’s preeminent political events.
Sanders, who this week crashed Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting to demand the retail giant stop paying its workers “starvation” wages, will address a really for McDonald’s employees beforehand.
Notably absent from Iowa, however, is the Democrat frontrunner. Biden is not scheduled to visit the state until Tuesday. Although little information has been provided for that visit, it will only be Biden’s second since launching his presidential campaign.
Biden’s decision to avoid Iowa comes after a week punctuated by slipping poll numbers, flip-flops, and gaffes.
Earlier in the week, Biden set off a firestorm among liberals by reaffirming his commitment to the Hyde Amendment, a federal rule banning tax dollars from being used for abortion except in cases of maternal health or if the pregnancy arose because of rape or incest.
Although Biden had voted for the rule continuously during his 40-year political career, the public acknowledgment drew a rise from groups and advocates on the left. Biden attempted to appease those detractors by saying he would continue to support the Hyde Amendment unless women were in a position to lose access to abortion.
That waffle was not suitable for many, with Planned Parenthood calling continued support for the rule “harmful.” After strong denunciation and pressure from the likes of Hollywood starlet Alyssa Milano, Biden acquiesced, saying “times had changed” and that he now favors scrapping the rule.
Since reversing his position, Biden has disappeared from view. The former vice president’s campaign released a limited schedule on Friday denoting meetings with advisers but no public appearances.
Biden’s failed 2008 presidential bid might shed some light on his disinclination to visit Iowa. In that race, he was initially considered a contender in the state, considering its heavy focus on retail politics. On election night, though, Iowa proved it was not very fertile ground, as Biden failed to crack one percent of the vote. He dropped out soon after.