INDIANOLA, IOWA | Sue Sorden doesn’t know who her first love will be in the 2020 Democratic presidential race, but she knows who her fallback option is: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
The 70-year-old plans to take a flyer on another candidate, maybe Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, in the first round of caucus voting, but is resigned to the idea she will likely end the night behind Mr. Biden, who she says can defeat President Trump.
“That is probably why he is my second choice,” Ms. Sorden said, alluding to his electability.
After being left for dead at various times during the primary race, Mr. Biden is now showing signs of life here in Iowa less than three weeks out from the caucuses.
The 77-year-old is in the thick of a tight four-way race and many voters are still mulling their options.
It puts Mr. Biden in a position to benefit from caucus rules that require supporters of candidates that fail to capture at least 15% of the vote after the first round of voting to line up behind another candidate or sit on the sidelines.
The latest Des Moines Register poll found a good chunk of caucus-goers who are still up for grabs or supporting lower-tier candidates are considering Mr. Biden as a second option.
Better yet for Mr. Biden, two of his top rivals — Sens. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren — will be spending most of their pre-caucus time in Washington serving as jurors in the Senate impeachment trial against Mr. Trump.
Mr. Biden has a series of campaign stops planned across the state this week. On Sunday, Jill Biden, his wife, and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack headlined a series of events on behalf of Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden perhaps has more riding on the caucuses than any other candidates.
Despite his at times uninspiring campaign and lackluster debate performances, Mr. Biden is locked in a tight battle with Mr. Sanders in New Hampshire, and holds leads in Nevada and South Carolina. But that polling strength could vanish if he lays a stink bomb here in Iowa.
There are signs, however, Mr. Biden is gaining steam.
He drew a standing-room-only crowd to an event with Rep. Abby Finkenhauer here over the weekend, telling the crowd the political polarization that is dividing the nation must come to an end.
He raised concerns about the cost of “Medicare-for-All” and accused the Sanders campaign of falsely accusing him of wanting to cut Social Security.
“Our politics today has become so dirty, so divisive that it is virtually impossible to get anything done. And unless we start to work together, the system can’t work,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden and a supportive “Unite the Country” super PAC are running television ads touting his foreign policy experience and making the case he’s got Mr. Trump running scared.
“He’s got Joe Biden on his mind because Trump knows Biden will beat him in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — the states we need to take back the presidency,” the narrator says in the 30-second campaign ad.
It is clear Mr. Biden is benefiting from the quiet comfort that voters have from having known him for such a long time.
Jay Leach said he’s backing Mr. Biden because he can relate to him, and his “moderate” views are a good fit for the state.
“When Joe announced, he was the presumptive nominee, so the only place was down. But now you are seeing his numbers are back up, because I think people have had the chance to hear not only his positions, but the other candidates as well,” Mr. Leach said.
The 48-year-old said he is eager to make the case to undecided voters on caucus night that Mr. Biden is the toughest matchup for Mr. Trump.
“He has seen and done just about everything we need in the Oval Office,” Mr. Leach said. “To me, being able to step in and do the job right away is important.”
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