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Westlake Legal Group > Sanders, Bernard

In Iowa, the ‘Not Sanders’ Democrats Find Voters Torn

Westlake Legal Group 27iowa1-facebookJumbo In Iowa, the ‘Not Sanders’ Democrats Find Voters Torn Warren, Elizabeth Vilsack, Tom Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Klobuchar, Amy Iowa Democratic Party Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Bloomberg, Michael R Biden, Joseph R Jr

BETTENDORF, Iowa — As they streamed out of the ballroom following a Scott County fund-raising banquet Saturday night, one after the other Iowa Democrats admitted that they still had not decided whom to support just over a week before the state’s presidential caucuses.

But by not mentioning his name as they rattled off their short lists, they made it clear whom they would not support: Senator Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist from Vermont who has taken the lead in recent polls.

Instead, every one of the 30 still-undecided Democratic activists here rattled off some combination of the same four names — Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.

As Mr. Sanders tightens his grip on the party’s young and left-wing voters in Iowa, more traditional Democrats, the ones who happily sit through marathon banquet dinners to hear the candidates and their representatives, remain split between his four leading competitors or remain unsure altogether about whom to rally behind.

“I have told my colleagues all along: Bernie Sanders can win with 27 percent of the vote here,” said Representative Dave Loebsack, an Iowa Democrat supporting Mr. Buttigieg, alluding to his fellow lawmakers, many of whom are deeply uneasy about running with Mr. Sanders on top of the ticket.

The fracture among mainstream Democrats here carries profound implications for a primary that has already unsettled the party establishment and prompted late entrants into the race.

Mr. Sanders is threatening to seize control in the early states, taking narrow but clear polling leads in Iowa and New Hampshire and increasingly menacing Mr. Biden’s advantage in national polls. With his mammoth online fund-raising operation, Mr. Sanders appears to be in a position of financial strength unmatched by any other candidate besides Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City.

Mr. Sanders’s endurance, and his apparent rise in the earliest primary and caucus states, reflects both the loyalty of his core supporters and their conviction that Mr. Sanders would bring the same fighting resilience to the general election. But even among many liberals who admire Mr. Sanders’s campaign, or some of his policy ideas, there is deep concern about the implications of nominating a candidate from the left whom President Trump is sure to portray as extreme.

“I think that Bernie is just a bridge too far for the country,” said Bonnie Campbell, a former Iowa attorney general who is supporting Mr. Biden. Ms. Campbell said she would have no difficulty supporting Mr. Sanders in the general election, but added, “I can tell you, I hear from friends and colleagues who say: ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do if Bernie wins?’”

But in Iowa, Democrats who hope to avert that outcome do not appear close to settling on another candidate as an alternative to Mr. Sanders. And if more moderate voters don’t coalesce behind an alternative by next week’s caucus, party traditionalists fear, Mr. Sanders could win Iowa with only a modest plurality, emboldening his leading rivals to remain in the race, and then notch another victory again a week later in New Hampshire. No Democrat in modern times has lost contested races in both Iowa and New Hampshire and claimed the nomination.

The early primary and caucus outcomes could have an outsize impact on later primaries, including the large states voting in March, some of which begin collecting mail-in and early ballots in the immediate aftermath of Iowa. If a candidate like Mr. Sanders were to seize momentum next week, it could help him build a head start in states like California and Texas.

It is a scenario that is deeply alarming to establishment-aligned Democrats, if not unfamiliar. Four years ago, convinced Donald Trump could not win the presidency, they watched with delight as he snatched the Republican nomination without winning majorities because his more traditional rivals divided the vote and refused to bow out.

The Democrats in this race have been as reluctant to target Mr. Sanders as the Republicans were to target Mr. Trump four years ago; in each case they were skeptical of his staying power and believed they had more to gain by attacking other rivals.

Even now, as Mr. Sanders takes a lead in the first two early states, his opponents have not delivered a sustained argument against his candidacy, and remain reluctant to take him on: while Mr. Buttigieg drew attention for warning in a fund-raising solicitation that a Sanders nomination would be too risky, he notably declined to amplify his rhetoric in television interviews over the weekend. The closest he has come to confronting his rival on the left is to make oblique references to the often-bitter 2016 primary between Hillary Clinton and Mr. Sanders.

“Most of us would agree the less 2020 resembles 2016 the better — in all respects,” Mr. Buttigieg said in a brief interview. Each of the would-be Stop Sanders candidates has built enough political strength to justify forging ahead: Mr. Biden remains the national front-runner, with unmatched support among black voters; Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Warren both have double-digit support in New Hampshire polls, and sizable war chests; Ms. Klobuchar has the thinnest operation beyond Iowa of the group, but over the weekend she earned the endorsement of New Hampshire’s influential Union Leader newspaper.

Should all four move forward from Iowa, with their perceived strengths and weaknesses, it could make it difficult for any of them to become a rallying point for voters uneasy about Mr. Sanders.

Complicating matters further for traditionalists, and making this race potentially even messier than Mr. Trump’s primary, is the presence of Mr. Bloomberg, who is not contesting the traditional early states in February but has already poured more than $270 million in advertising into later contests and made clear to allies that he will remain in the race should Mr. Sanders come roaring into March.

Mr. Bloomberg was on Ms. Klobuchar’s mind as she left the dinner here Saturday. She was asked if she would remain in the race if she did not break into the top three in the caucuses, which has often been the number of viable candidates who leave the state.

Even if you’re in fourth, she was asked?

“You think it’s only going to be down to four candidates even by New Hampshire?” she said before answering the question. “No, it’s not.”

Then, pointing to Mr. Bloomberg, she explained why the Democratic vote may remain splintered.

“Why would I get out while he’s still in?” Ms. Klobuchar demanded.

With nearly 40 percent of Iowa voters indicating in a new New York Times-Siena College poll that they were still not certain about whom to support, Mr. Sanders could still suffer a reversal of fortune here.

That’s in part because of the state’s complex, multiphase caucusing process, which allows supporters of underdog candidates to shift to stronger contenders. If Mr. Sanders has the most enthusiastic base of support in Iowa, he may be less well positioned to expand his bloc in later rounds should moderate voters rally to one of the four other leading candidates.

And it’s Ms. Klobuchar whom Iowa Democrats are watching most closely. If she does not reach 15 percent in most precincts, her supporters could determine the statewide winner if they migrate mostly to one candidate.

Former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, Mr. Biden’s most prominent supporter in the state, was blunt about why Ms. Klobuchar’s backers should support the former vice president.

Mr. Biden has the best chance of winning the general election, he shares Ms. Klobuchar’s pragmatic politics and “Joe is going to need a running mate,” Mr. Vilsack said.

A more urgent concern for Mr. Vilsack was the prospect of Iowa producing a muddled result, a scenario that’s more likely this year because the state party, for the first time, is releasing raw vote totals from the initial round of balloting as well as the final results and delegate allocations.

“If I had to make one prediction, there will be a split decision and that’ll have repercussions,” he said. “Because whoever quote-unquote wins can claim that they won, and talk about it going into New Hampshire.”

So while they still hope to best Mr. Sanders in Iowa or New Hampshire, several of Mr. Sanders’s rivals have begun emphasizing their strengths in states later in the calendar.

Mr. Biden’s advisers and surrogates have been stressing his support among minority communities that become important starting with the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22, while Ms. Warren’s campaign circulated a memo last week detailing its preparations in the March primaries that will award most of the delegates that will settle the Democratic nomination.

And in a conversation with volunteers before a town hall-style meeting in Davenport on Sunday, Ms. Warren reiterated her determination to compete into March and beyond, telling supporters she already has staff in 30 states, according to a volunteer who attended the meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“We all know that this is very likely to be a long nomination process,” said California Assemblyman David Chiu, who on Sunday was opening a campaign headquarters in San Francisco for Ms. Warren and said of her campaign: “They are going to put up a tremendous fight here in the state.”

That phase of the race is also when Mr. Bloomberg, with his vast personal fortune, could become a more urgent factor, either rising as an obstacle for Mr. Sanders or further fracturing the party’s moderate wing.

In California, Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach, who endorsed Mr. Biden this month, said he expected the former vice president to consolidate support there “once it becomes clear that there’s a few candidates left.”

But gathering support around just a few candidates could also be difficult in California, Mr. Garcia noted, because the state’s mail-in ballots would list the names of candidates who falter or withdraw over the course of February.

“There are going to be a lot of candidates in California, because they are going to be on the ballot,” he said. “There will be some drop-off, but they’re all competitive here and that’s going to continue.”

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Bernie Sanders and His Internet Army

The defense from Bernie Sanders was straightforward: It wasn’t me.

He had been milling about on the Senate floor one day in the summer of 2017 when a colleague, Kamala Harris, stepped toward him. “Do we have a problem?” Ms. Harris asked, according to Democrats familiar with the exchange.

Some prominent Sanders supporters had been flaming Ms. Harris publicly as the preferred choice of the corporate Democratic establishment against which Mr. Sanders had long railed, a view amplified among Sanders-boosting accounts across social media. “Pre-emptive strike,” one person wrote on the popular SandersForPresident Reddit group, where Sanders fans were sharing details of Ms. Harris’s recent fund-raising swing in the Hamptons with former Hillary Clinton donors. “Start the conversation now, end it before 2020.”

Mr. Sanders assured Ms. Harris that there was no issue, the Democrats familiar with their conversation said. He insisted that he could not control how his followers communicated.

But two years later, as both senators pursued the party’s 2020 presidential nomination and Ms. Harris returned to the Hamptons to collect campaign checks, Mr. Sanders broadcast an observation of his own after Ms. Harris raised doubts about his “Medicare for all” plan. “I don’t go to the Hamptons to raise money from billionaires,” he tweeted last August, elevating a message that supporters had already been pushing. Thousands of retweets followed.

Since the start of Mr. Sanders’s first presidential campaign in 2016, his colossal online support base has been by turns a source of peerless strength and perpetual aggravation — envied and caricatured by rivals who covet such loyalty, feared by Democrats who have faced harassment from his followers, and alternately cherished and gently scolded by the candidate himself.

The zeal of Mr. Sanders’s fans has helped establish him as one of the 2020 front-runners a week before the Iowa caucuses. No other Democrat attracts supporters more dedicated to forcefully defending their candidate and lashing his foes, more willing to repeatedly donate their time and money to sustain his bid. Through the end of 2019, Mr. Sanders had raised nearly $100 million from over five million individual donations, without ever holding traditional fund-raisers, leading the primary field.

Yet as Mr. Sanders moves to position himself as a standard-bearer for a party he has criticized from the left for decades, the power of his internet army has also alarmed Democrats who are familiar with its underside, experienced in ways large and small.

Some progressive activists who declined to back Mr. Sanders have begun traveling with private security after incurring online harassment. Several well-known feminist writers said they had received death threats. A state party chairwoman changed her phone number. A Portland lawyer saw her business rating tumble on an online review site after tussling with Sanders supporters on Twitter.

Other notable targets have included Ady Barkan, a prominent liberal activist with A.L.S. — whom some Sanders-cheering accounts accused of lacking decision-making faculties due to his illness as he prepared to endorse Senator Elizabeth Warren — and Fred Guttenberg, the father of a shooting victim from the 2018 Parkland massacre, who had criticized Mr. Sanders’s statements about gun violence.

“Politics is a contact sport,” said Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina State legislator who supported Ms. Harris in the Democratic primary. “But you have to be very cognizant when you say anything critical of Bernie online. You might have to put your phone down. There’s going to be a blowback, and it could be sexist, racist and vile.”

In recent days, he said, one man sent a profanity-filled private message on Instagram, calling Mr. Sellers, who is black, an “Uncle Tom” and wishing him brain cancer.

When Mr. Sanders’s supporters swarm someone online, they often find multiple access points to that person’s life, compiling what can amount to investigative dossiers. They will attack all public social media accounts, posting personal insults that might flow in by the hundreds. Some of the missives are direct threats of violence, which can be reported to Twitter or Facebook and taken down.

More commonly, there is a barrage of jabs and threats sometimes framed as jokes. If the target is a woman, and it often is, these insults can veer toward her physical appearance.

For some perceived Sanders critics, there has been mail sent to home addresses — or the home addresses of relatives. The contents were unremarkable: news articles about the political perils of centrism. The message seemed clear: We know where you live.

— Bernie Sanders, in a 2019 letter to supporters

Interviews with current and former staff members and major online supporters make clear that top advisers — and often, Mr. Sanders himself — are acutely aware of the bile spread in his name.

In February 2019, shortly after announcing his second presidential run, Mr. Sanders emailed a letter to surrogates. “I want to be clear,” he said, “that I condemn bullying and harassment of any kind and in any space.”

That he felt compelled to append this note to his national reintroduction was perhaps as telling as its contents.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163025088_86bbb9f9-f4fe-44bd-a623-581bf2a819b3-articleLarge Bernie Sanders and His Internet Army Warren, Elizabeth Social Media Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Cyberharassment Clinton, Hillary Rodham

Mr. Sanders at a campaign rally in Queens in October. Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times

The Sanders campaign declined to discuss its 2020 digital operation and the extent to which it monitored social media discussions.

A spokesman, Mike Casca, flagged Mr. Sanders’s call for civility from last February. The campaign also released a statement from a spokeswoman, Sarah Ford, emphasizing the candidate’s previous remarks. “As the senator has said loudly and clearly,” she said, “there is no room in the political revolution for abuse and harassment online.”

Sanders aides routinely decide against commenting publicly about an online spat, reasoning that to do so would only elevate the conflict. The candidate’s defenders are quick to reject any suggestion that Mr. Sanders is responsible for the most egregious conduct of his followers, who are disproportionately young and overrepresented online, when the vast majority proceed with greater care.

His allies also argue that online combat is not unique to the Sanders side, with some high-profile women who support the senator saying they have been attacked, too.

“The same folks who want to complain that Sanders supporters are more vicious than anybody else never come out to chastise the supporters of other candidates,” said Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator and Mr. Sanders’s national campaign co-chair.

But many political veterans outside the Sanders operation fault the campaign’s handling of the vitriol.

Jess Morales Rocketto, a progressive strategist who worked on campaigns for Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton, said Mr. Sanders had empowered aides and surrogates who “have a tendency to aggressively amplify things that a campaign would normally shut down amongst supporters.”

“There are always people who say things that are problematic. It’s not that that is unique to Bernie’s campaign,” she said. “What’s unique is it is a consistent problem in the universe of Bernie Sanders.”

— RoseAnn DeMoro, a Sanders supporter and former leader of National Nurses United

With more than 10 million followers on Twitter, Mr. Sanders has a larger audience on the platform than Ms. Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Amy Klobuchar combined. A sizable number could be automated bots or fictitious accounts. Federal prosecutors have detailed coordinated efforts by Russian nationals to interfere in the 2016 election, with an emphasis on two candidates — Donald J. Trump and Mr. Sanders — whom the Russians hoped to bolster while denigrating their opponents.

In a party gripped with anxiety about unifying to defeat Mr. Trump, the venom among Sanders backers and their counterparts supporting other candidates is of serious concern to Democrats.

Peggy Huppert, an Iowa activist who consulted for the 2016 Sanders campaign, said she had decided to support Mr. Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., in 2020 “in large part because of the way he conducts himself.” She praised Mr. Sanders’s letter to supporters after his announcement but said that this message had plainly failed to resonate.

“Obama set the tone for his campaign: ‘You are positive, you are respectful, you are civil,’” Ms. Huppert said. “I guess Bernie hasn’t.”

In recent days, Sanders supporters have filled the social media feeds of Ms. Warren and her allies with snakes — emojis, GIFs, doctored photographs — following the candidates’ quarrel over whether Mr. Sanders had told Ms. Warren privately in 2018 that a woman could not win the presidency. And last week, Mrs. Clinton resurfaced to revisit old wounds, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Mr. Sanders was to blame for permitting and “very much supporting” a toxic campaign culture.

For many of Mr. Sanders’s admirers, the interview only reinforced a conviction that traditional Democratic forces wish him political harm.

So why, they ask, should he be expected to stifle his most potent megaphone?

“You can’t control these folks,” RoseAnn DeMoro, a vocal Sanders supporter and former leader of National Nurses United, said of his online base. “I should say, ‘us folks.’”

There was a running joke inside the Clinton campaign’s 2016 Brooklyn headquarters: The cruelest surprise her digital team could pull on staff members was to retweet their personal account from the candidate’s handle, putting them on the radar of Mr. Sanders’s followers.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides mostly marveled at the scope and intensity of an ostensible long shot’s online base.

Mr. Sanders’s supporters, now often identified on Twitter by the rose emoji of the Democratic Socialists of America, loosely coordinated in private channels on Slack, a messaging service designed for the workplace, and congregated on Reddit, posting memes, news and jokes. (Today, there are 384,000 members in the SandersForPresident group on Reddit. The central group for Mr. Biden has about 3,100.)

— Michael Ceraso, a 2016 Sanders aide

Top Sanders aides initially worked to assemble traditional campaign infrastructure with staff on the ground in early nominating states like Iowa and New Hampshire. But much of the rest of the map was effectively the province of volunteers, who were responsible for helping to translate online enthusiasm into in-person support.

To Mr. Sanders, who had long bet his career on the power of mass movements, the online momentum did not necessarily register as unusual, even if he did not understand all the nuts and bolts.

Zack Exley, a senior adviser in 2016, said someone once asked Mr. Sanders how he had managed to draw so many people to his events.

“What do you mean?” the candidate replied, according to Mr. Exley. That was just how movements worked.

“If you’re in that position,” Mr. Exley said, “I don’t think you’re actually curious about how they got there.”

Others suggested that Mr. Sanders was highly attuned to what was happening online. His campaign aides tracked popular hashtags and, at times, encountered caustic posts. The candidate was particularly cognizant of, and grateful for, his online supporters’ capacity for small-dollar fund-raising.

“It would stun me that he wouldn’t know what was going on, positive or negative, online,” said Michael Ceraso, a Sanders aide in 2016 who worked for Mr. Buttigieg’s presidential campaign for part of last year.

While Mr. Sanders has said he does not have Twitter or any other apps on his phone, he is aware of the power of his online platform. “Given the fact that I have more social media followers than maybe all of my opponents combined, I guess we’re doing something right on that,” he told The New York Times editorial board. “What I have recognized is the importance of it.”

Ro Khanna, a California congressman who is now Mr. Sanders’s national campaign co-chair, said that the same internet that helped usher in the presidencies of Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama had made Mr. Sanders an unlikely juggernaut.

“If it weren’t for social media, if it weren’t for the use of email, Bernie Sanders would never have been a major contender,” he said. “It’s a glimpse, I think, into what the future of what campaigns may be.”

— a message received by Maya Contreras, co-founder of a feminist think tank who has been critical of Mr. Sanders

That is precisely what some Democrats fear. As the 2016 primary grew increasingly fractious, Mr. Sanders’s campaign found a drawback to such fervor: the online bullying among some supporters.

Sady Doyle, a progressive feminist author and Sanders critic who has been the subject of his followers’ ire, recalled one message she received from a stranger: “If you ever have a child, I’m going to dash it on the walls of Troy.” She said her husband asked her not to attend protests alone while pregnant.

Maya Contreras, a graduate student and co-founder of a feminist think tank who has criticized Mr. Sanders on Twitter, recalled a deluge in the lead-up to the 2016 election. “I got messages saying ‘go back to where you came from’ — which is Denver, Colorado, where I was born,” she said.

“Someone tweeted and said ‘You better watch where you’re going or something’s going to happen to you,’” Ms. Contreras added. “I also got ‘die bitch.’”

In person, serious violence has been avoided, it seems, though there have been occasional low-grade clashes. A May 2016 fight over delegates in Nevada included reports of thrown chairs, which some Sanders supporters dispute, and threats against the state party chairwoman, Roberta Lange, who changed her phone number after receiving a torrent of menacing messages about her, her grandchild and other relatives.

Former Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a Clinton supporter who had been at the Nevada convention, said she worried for her safety after being booed offstage.

“After the incident, Bernie and I talked on the phone, and he said, ‘I can’t believe that, my supporters would never do that,’” Ms. Boxer recalled. “I said, ‘Well, you ought to get to the bottom of it, Bernie.’”

She said Mr. Sanders responded, “Those cannot be my people.”

By early 2016, the behavior of Mr. Sanders’s online supporters, short-handed in the media as “Bernie Bros,” had become a stubborn trope, diagnosed as a political problem at the highest levels of the senator’s campaign, even as aides largely blamed Mrs. Clinton’s operation for overblowing it.

At times in public, Mr. Sanders tried to disclaim unseemly conduct. “We don’t want that crap,” he said in February 2016.

But he and his senior team also nursed a sharp sense of grievance. Jeff Weaver, a top Sanders strategist, played down the gravity of the Nevada unrest, telling CNN afterward that “no one had a right to feel threatened.”

“What happens,” he said, “is that when you rig the process and you get an angry crowd, you know, they’re not used to that.”

When the story broke this month detailing the private conversation between Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren about female electability, Sanders surrogates received a message from the campaign, advising them against going out of their way to engage with it publicly.

But later that day, Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, told CNN that whoever had pushed the Warren story was lying. Shaun King, a civil rights activist and prominent Sanders supporter with more than one million Twitter followers, said he saw an opportunity.

Among other widely circulated tweets, Mr. King wrote that he had spoken to Warren campaign staff members who reported that she “routinely embellishes stories.” He alleged that the Warren campaign and its allies “leaked this attack against Bernie to the press for political gain.”

Eventually, Ms. Turner, the campaign co-chair, got in touch. “She called me and said, ‘Shaun, just let up on it,’” he said. He did, to an extent. But by then, much of the Sanders-aligned internet was about to begin tweeting snakes at Ms. Warren and her supporters en masse.

In that instance and more than a handful of others over the past year, the campaign has publicly distanced itself from the rancor. Mr. Sanders’s wife, Jane, called for unity as the Warren squabble persisted. Mr. Sanders weighed in when some followers scorched Mr. Barkan, the activist with A.L.S., after his endorsement of Ms. Warren. “Bernie and all of his staff and surrogates were incredibly gracious and kind when I made the difficult decision to endorse one of my heroes over the other,” Mr. Barkan said in a statement.

The campaign recognizes the possible political downsides in any extreme behavior, but aides are perhaps most wary of the “bro” portion of the “Bernie Bro” descriptor, as Mr. Sanders prepares to make his case to a diverse Democratic electorate later in the primary calendar. Ms. Ford, the Sanders spokeswoman, said opponents were perpetuating “a false myth to discount the diversity of our supporters.”

While Mr. Sanders’s poll numbers with nonwhite voters are stronger than many rivals’, female and nonwhite Sanders critics say they continue to face disproportionate harassment from ostensibly progressive forces. “People talk about white dudes getting radicalized on the right,” said Imani Gandy, a senior legal analyst for Rewire.News behind a popular Twitter account, @AngryBlackLady. “I feel like white dudes in Brooklyn are being radicalized too.”

Candice Aiston, a lawyer who supported Ms. Harris before she left the primary, sparred with Sanders supporters last year and found herself targeted beyond Twitter: Some condemned her in Google reviews of her law practice and reported her to the Oregon state bar association, which dismissed the complaints.

(“She’s O.K. at her job, but her right wing ideology screams too loud,” one online review read. “Would not recommend.”)

For the campaign, the balance is delicate — tut-tutting at times without diluting the force of online support. Mr. Khanna, the congressman and campaign co-chair, called Mr. Sanders “the one person on our side who can counter what Trump’s formidable presence is going to be online.”

This view is shared among some online supporters who have turned Sanders fandom into something approaching a full-time job. Rodney Latstetter, a 62-year-old retiree in Illinois who posted repeatedly in 2017 about Ms. Harris’s Hamptons fund-raising, said he and a partner spent about seven hours a day running dozens of pro-Sanders social media groups. His Twitter page boosts Mr. Sanders and raises doubts about his rivals to more than 17,000 followers.

“Some of my followers — there are a few of them that have a little bit of an issue with their mouth or something like that,” Mr. Latstetter said, adding that he was unsure if he would support any of the other Democratic candidates if they won the nomination. “I also have my moments, too, where I have my limits, and I come out fighting.”

Such digital combat has seeped perceptibly into popular culture. The singer John Legend, endorsing Ms. Warren in a tweet this month, added a note of caution for Sanders supporters: “Try not to drive people away with your nastiness. I will happily vote for him if he wins the primary. Chill.”

This did not necessarily land with its intended audience.

“Some of you millionaires need to realize that many of us actually *need* Bernie Sanders to win the Presidency,” one account replied. “We can’t just ‘chill.’”

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting.

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T Minus 8 Days: A Frenetic Weekend on the Trail in Iowa

DES MOINES — With the Iowa caucuses a week away and senators briefly sprung from their impeachment-induced confinement on Capitol Hill, the Democratic presidential candidates and their surrogates spilled out across Iowa on Sunday.

They gave their stump speeches. They took photos and shook hands. They tried mightily to address the elephant in the room — a series of polls showing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont pulling even with or ahead of the longtime front-runner, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — without appearing to concern themselves with it.

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., carried on the long tradition of campaign-trail subtweeting, attacking Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden unmistakably but without naming them.

“The country will be crying out for a president capable of unifying and healing the American people,” Mr. Buttigieg said at a rally in West Des Moines, a clear shot at Mr. Sanders.

Later, at a town hall televised on Fox News, he said that he had “heard some folks saying” that now was not the time for voters to take a risk — Team Biden is running an ad arguing exactly that — but that the real risk “would be to try to go up against this president with the same old playbook that we’ve been relying on.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who has gained ground in recent weeks but is still polling a distant fifth here, tried to focus on crowd sizes instead — and on somewhat better poll results she received in New Hampshire, which will vote the week after Iowa.

“We are seeing this overwhelming number of people showing up on a Sunday afternoon,” Ms. Klobuchar told reporters in Ames. “We’re seeing the poll that we just saw this morning in New Hampshire, in double digits, just a few points away from many of my maybe more well-known competitors on the national stage.”

And besides, how much attention should voters pay to polls to begin with? “Let’s see what happens when people are actually showing up,” she said.

Westlake Legal Group democratic-candidates-20-questions-promo-1579898311650-articleLarge-v10 T Minus 8 Days: A Frenetic Weekend on the Trail in Iowa Warren, Elizabeth Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Klobuchar, Amy Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

20 (More) Questions With Democrats

We sat down again with Democratic candidates and asked them a new set of questions. Watch their answers.

As always, the undertone — and sometimes the overtone — was each candidate’s so-called electability against President Trump. From Davenport in the east to Sioux City in the west, the candidates circled one another, jostling to cast themselves as the most viable contender for November.

“Can we just address it right here? Women win,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said at an event in Davenport, invoking the same argument she made at this month’s debate when she noted that she and Ms. Klobuchar were the only people onstage who had never lost an election. “Women candidates have been outperforming men candidates since Donald Trump was elected.”

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden, meanwhile, continued to spar with each other, each seeing the other — justifiably, based on recent polls — as his biggest threat.

After a weeklong public fight over their records on Social Security, they turned to climate. At an event in Perry on Sunday, Mr. Sanders shot back at Mr. Biden for his remark a couple days earlier that “not a single solitary scientist” considered Mr. Sanders’s climate plan workable.

“Well, Joe, you’re wrong,” Mr. Sanders said. “Many leading scientists agree with our plan, and in a few days we’re going to have a long list of scientists who agree with our plan.”

In Des Moines, Mr. Biden drew voters’ attention to what is arguably his biggest strength nationally: his strong support from black voters. It is a key part of the same electability argument that echoed across the state all weekend: Black voters are an essential constituency in the Democratic Party.

“I know a lot of folks out here were wondering, ‘Why does Biden get such overwhelming support from the African-American community?’” Mr. Biden said. “Because that’s what I’m part of. That’s where my political identity comes from. And it’s the single most loyal constituency I’ve ever had.”

As for the Iowans he and everyone else were courting, some of them ended the weekend as torn as they had begun it.

“It’s hard to tell. They are all so similar,” said Ann Clary, a state budget analyst who attended one of Mr. Buttigieg’s events on Sunday but is also considering caucusing for Mr. Biden and Ms. Klobuchar. “Sometimes I can’t fall asleep at night. I just can’t stop thinking about it.”

As night fell, Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg went on with business as usual, looking forward to another full week of events. And then there were the senators.

Round and round the state they went: Ms. Warren from Davenport to Cedar Rapids, Ms. Klobuchar from Waterloo to Ames to Des Moines, Mr. Sanders from Perry to Storm Lake to Sioux City.

They had to hurry, because soon the day, and their window, would be over.

“I could have literally done these in every town and revisited all 99 counties again,” Ms. Klobuchar told reporters wistfully after an event in Ames. “That was one of my secret plans, but it’s now been dashed, since I turn into a pumpkin at midnight.”

Reporting was contributed by Nick Corasaniti from Ames, Iowa; Sydney Ember from Ames and Perry; Reid J. Epstein from West Des Moines and Storm Lake; Shane Goldmacher from Davenport; Thomas Kaplan from Des Moines; and Lisa Lerer from Perry.

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Fact-Checking Joe Biden Before the Iowa Caucuses

Westlake Legal Group defaultPromoCrop Fact-Checking Joe Biden Before the Iowa Caucuses United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Social Security (US) Sanders, Bernard Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Federal Budget (US) Embargoes and Sanctions Civil Rights Movement (1954-68) Black People Biden, Joseph R Jr

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. remains atop most national polls before the first votes are cast next month in the Democratic presidential primary. Before the Iowa caucuses, The New York Times reviewed recent statements he made defending his decades-long career, stressing his standing in the black community and highlighting his perceived strength on foreign policy. Here’s a fact check.

what the facts are

What Was Said

Antonia Hylton, a reporter for Vice News: “Do you think, though, that it’s fair for voters to question your commitment to Social Security when in the past you’ve proposed a freeze to it?”

Mr. Biden: “No, I didn’t propose a freeze.”
at the Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum last week in Iowa

False. In 1984, faced with budget deficits under the Reagan administration, Mr. Biden was a co-sponsor of an amendment with two Republican senators that froze for one year nearly all military and domestic spending, including cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security benefits.

Pressed by Ms. Hylton after his inaccurate denial, Mr. Biden said that his proposal came “in the context of we saved Social Security during the Reagan administration” and noted that Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a liberal stalwart, voted for the plan.

When President Ronald Reagan entered office in 1981, Social Security was running low on funding and Mr. Reagan did propose to make deep cuts to benefits. But he ultimately endorsed and signed bipartisan legislation in 1983 — which Mr. Biden and Mr. Kennedy both voted for — to assure the fund’s continuing solvency. Changes included postponing cost-of-living adjustments, and the Biden campaign said that the former vice president was referring to this episode.

“It is easy to believe Biden thought minor cuts in the program in the short run would represent a better outcome than the much bigger cuts President Reagan and his advisers seemed to favor,” Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said. “In those days, ‘compromise’ was not a dirty word in the eyes of most members of Congress.”

Mr. Biden’s own freeze plan, though, came “well after the Social Security rescue was over,” said Paul C. Light, a professor at New York University who wrote a book on the 1983 effort.

Rather, the plan was another step in a decades-long “mating dance between centrist Democrats and Republicans to come up with a grand bargain on the deficit,” said Eric Laursen, author of “The People’s Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan.”

Mr. Biden said as much in April 1984, as he decried “gargantuan deficits” and argued that not accepting a one-year freeze to cost-of-living adjustments would lead to a “a fundamental debate over whether or not there should be COLAs in Social Security” at all. The amendment that he co-sponsored ultimately failed by a vote of 65 to 33 (Mr. Kennedy voted against it).

Mr. Biden’s overall record on Social Security includes both actions that would slow or reduce spending and those that would protect benefits.

He voted for an amendment in 1995 to require a balanced federal budget that he and other Democrats warned would endanger the Social Security fund. He supported raising the eligibility age for Social Security in 2007. And he brokered a deal with Republican lawmakers in 2010 that extended the Bush-era tax cuts and created a holiday for the payroll tax, which funds Social Security, that temporarily reduced the tax by two percentage points.

But Mr. Biden also voted for an amendment to that balanced budget legislation in 1995 that would have excluded Social Security from its aims. From 2001 to 2008, he repeatedly voted against privatizing Social Security and for improving the trust fund’s solvency, according to the Alliance for Retired Americans, an affiliate of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. that represents union retirees. In 2008, Mr. Biden’s last year in the Senate, he received a lifetime score of 96 out of 100 from the group. He spoke out against Social Security privatization in the 2012 vice-presidential debate and his current plan vows to protect the safety net.

What Was Said

Lauren Kelley, New York Times Editorial Board member: “You also originally argued for greater exemptions to the contraception mandate in Obamacare. So I think there’s some concern out there —”

Mr. Biden: “No, I didn’t, by the way.”
— in an interview with The New York Times Editorial Board published Jan. 17

This is disputed. The Obama administration announced in January 2012 a rule requiring most insurance plans to cover birth control free of charge, including for the employees of hospitals, schools and charities run by Catholic groups.

The making of the rule sparked an internal debate in the White House. Reporting from news outlets cast Mr. Biden as part of the camp arguing for a less stringent rule.

According to ABC News and Bloomberg, the vice president and William Daley, then the chief of staff to President Barack Obama, warned of the political fallout with Catholic voters who backed Mr. Obama in the 2008 election and argued that the issue would be framed as an attack on religious liberty. The Times reported that officials had initially sought a year to work out a compromise, but “a group of advisers had bested Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and others and sold the president on a stricter rule.”

The announcement fueled a fierce backlash from Catholic organizations and Republicans. As the Obama administration contemplated the fallout, Mr. Biden did not publicly oppose or defend the rule, but hinted during a radio interview that it would be softened.

“There’s going to be a significant attempt to work this out, and there’s time to do that,” he said on Feb. 9, 2012. “And as a practicing Catholic, you know, I am of the view that this can be worked out and should be worked out and I think the president, I know the president, feels the same way.”

Mr. Biden also said in the interview that the administration wanted to “make sure women who need access to birth control are not denied that,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

A day later, the administration revised the rule to shift the responsibility of providing contraception to insurers, rather than the religiously affiliated institutions themselves.

what the facts are

What Was Said

Ms. Hylton: “Why is Senator Sanders leading you with voters under age 35?”

Mr. Biden: “He is not leading me with black voters under the age — look, just all I know is, I am leading everybody, combined, with black voters.”
— at the Brown & Black forum

This is exaggerated. Mr. Biden is correct that in most polls, he leads Democratic candidates among black voters overall, but he is wrong to deny Senator Bernie Sanders’ edge with younger African Americans.

A January poll conducted by The Washington Post and Ipsos, a nonpartisan research firm, found that Mr. Biden held a wide lead among black Democrats with 48 percent support, but Mr. Sanders led with those between age 18 and 34 at 42 percent while Mr. Biden placed second at 30 percent.

An Ipsos survey conducted with Vice this month asked black Americans who they would consider voting for and found that 56 percent would consider voting for Mr. Sanders and 54 percent for Mr. Biden, a statistical tie. Among those between ages 18 and 34, Mr. Sanders’ support increased to 81 percent compared with 65 percent for Mr. Biden, according to a breakdown provided by Chris Jackson, the vice president of Ipsos Public Affairs.

In a poll by the political action committee BlackPac and released in December, Mr. Biden led all black voters with 38 percent, but trailed Mr. Sanders in support among black voters between ages 18 and 24 at 14 percent compared to 30 percent for Mr. Sanders. Support for the two candidates was nearly identical among black voters between the ages of 25 and 39, with 24 percent supporting Mr. Biden and 25 percent supporting Mr. Sanders.

The Sanders campaign also pointed to an array of surveys demonstrating the same generational gap: a fall poll from Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics where Mr. Sanders was the first choice of black voters between ages 18 and 29, a January poll from Chegg Media Center where Mr. Sanders led with black college students with 43 percent and a September survey from Essence Magazine where Mr. Sanders had the most support of black women between ages 18 and 34 with 19 percent.

What Was Said

“I was involved in the civil rights movement.”
— at the Brown & Black forum

This is exaggerated. Over his long political career, Mr. Biden has occasionally suggested he played a greater role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s than he actually did. While there are accounts of Mr. Biden participating in a few desegregation events, he has also said he would not consider himself an activist in the movement.

Mr. Biden has said that he protested a segregated movie theater in demonstrations in Wilmington, Del. at the Rialto Theater in the early 1960s. His account is backed by a former president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a former president of the Delaware A.F.L.-C.I.O.

A 1987 edition of “Current Biography Yearbook,” a magazine that profiles American figures, noted that Mr. Biden had participated in “anti-segregation sit-ins at Wilmington’s Town Theatre during his high school years.”

During his first bid for president, Mr. Biden wrongly said in 1987 that he had “marched with tens of thousands of others” in the civil rights movement. Later, a spokesman for Mr. Biden clarified that he had participated in actions to “desegregate one restaurant and one movie theater.” Mr. Biden himself conceded that “I was not an activist.”

“I worked at an all-black swimming pool in the east side of Wilmington, Del. I was involved in what they were thinking, what they were feeling. But I was not out marching,” he said in a news conference that fall. “I was not down in Selma. I was not anywhere else. I was a suburbanite kid who got a dose of exposure to what was happening to black Americans.”

He struck a similar tone in interviews with the journalist Jules Witcover, who wrote the book “Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption.”

“I didn’t do any big deal, but I marched a couple of times to desegregate the movie theaters in downtown Wilmington,” Mr. Biden said in the book. But he acknowledged that “I wasn’t part of any great movement.”

what the facts are

What Was Said

“The president showed up, met with them, gave him legitimacy, weakened these sanctions we have against him.”
— at the Democratic presidential debate in January

This is misleading. Mr. Biden is referring to Mr. Trump’s efforts to engage diplomatically with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. There is a widespread consensus that the president’s willingness to meet with him provided Mr. Kim with additional credibility at home and abroad without giving the United States and its allies much in return.

At the same time, Mr. Trump’s meetings with the North Koreans have increased support from China and Russia for easing United Nations sanctions on North Korea, as the Biden campaign pointed out. Soo Kim, a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, a research group, pointed out that South Korea has also recently been testing the waters for securing sanctions relief for its northern neighbor.

But the Trump administration itself has not lifted the United States’ own sanctions and has opposed the calls from China and Russia to ease the international sanctions.

“As far as I know, sanctions have not been eased,” said Jim Walsh of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Certainly the international U.N. sanctions continue unabated, and I am unaware of any significant sanctions relief granted by the administration.”

A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department said Mr. Biden’s statement was inaccurate and that the agency “has sanctioned 261 individuals and entities under its North Korea authorities, accounting for more than half of North Korea-related sanctions ever imposed.”

Nearly every month from March 2017 to March 2018, the department announced sanctions on North Korean nationals and companies, as well people and entities around the world linked to North Korea. After Mr. Trump’s summit with Mr. Kim in Singapore in June 2018, Treasury imposed more sanctions in August, September, October, November and December of that year.

In March 2019, shortly after Mr. Trump met again with Mr. Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, the president issued a confusing statement on Twitter announcing that he had rolled back newly imposed sanctions on North Korea, though restrictions announced a day earlier on two Chinese companies linked to North Korea were not actually revoked. The White House press secretary at the time, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, explained that Mr. Trump “doesn’t feel it’s necessary to add additional sanctions at this time.”

A month later, Mr. Trump said the sanctions on North Korea are “at a fair level” and should remain in place. More were announced in June, August and September. The United States opposed lifting United Nations sanctions on North Korea in December and sanctioned two more entities January.

Mr. Biden’s theory that Mr. Trump’s personal appeals to Mr. Kim has weakened the resolve of other countries to enforce sanctions is a matter of interpretation.

This line of argument “was trotted out every time Obama engaged in diplomacy,” Mr. Walsh said. “We don’t know if diplomacy with North Korea has had the effect of reducing the impact of sanctions. Maybe. But as with all things North Korea, it’s hard to say.”

Curious about the accuracy of a claim? Email factcheck@nytimes.com.

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A Major Fear for Democrats: Will the Party Come Together by November?

FORT DODGE, Iowa — Democrats have always represented a cacophonous array of individuals and interests, but the so-called big tent is now stretching over a constituency so unwieldy that it’s easy to understand why voters remain torn this close to Iowa, where no clear front-runner has emerged.

The party’s voters are splintered across generational, racial and ideological lines, prompting some liberals to express reluctance about rallying behind a moderate presidential nominee, and those closer to the political middle to voice unease with a progressive standard-bearer.

The lack of a united front has many party leaders anxious — and for good reason. In over 50 interviews across three early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — a number of Democratic primary voters expressed grave reservations about the current field of candidates, and in some cases a clear reluctance to vote for a nominee who was too liberal or too centrist for their tastes.

As she walked out of a campaign event for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Fort Dodge this week, Barbara Birkett said she was leaning toward caucusing for Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and dismissed the notion of even considering the two progressives in the race, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“No, I’m more of a Republican and that’s just a little bit too far to the left for me,” Ms. Birkett, a retiree. She said that she’d like to support a Democrat this November because of her disdain for Mr. Trump but that Mr. Sanders would “be a hard one.”

Elsewhere on the increasingly broad Democratic spectrum, Pete Doyle, who attended a Sanders rally in Manchester, N.H., last weekend, had a ready answer when asked about voting for Mr. Biden: “Never in a million years.” He said that if Mr. Biden won the nomination, he would either vote for a third-party nominee or sit out the general election.

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Ready, Set, Vote: Here’s Everything You Need to Know for the 2020 Primaries

The Iowa caucuses are around the corner. As you get ready for primary season, take a look at our cheat sheet on the race.

The uncertainty about party unity has been exacerbated in recent days by clashes among the Democratic candidates, as well as one involving a prominent party leader.

Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have accused one another of lying about a private conversation in 2018 over whether a woman could become president; Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden have attacked each other over Social Security and corruption; and Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee, has come off the sidelines to stoke her rivalry with Mr. Sanders, declaring that “nobody likes him.”

The lack of consensus among Democratic voters, 10 days before the presidential nominating primary begins with Iowa caucuses, has led some party leaders to make unusually fervent and early pleas for unity. On Monday alone, a pair of influential Democratic congressmen issued strikingly similar warnings to very different audiences in very different states.

“We get down to November, there’s only going to be one nominee,” Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat, said at a ceremony for Martin Luther King’s Birthday at the State House in Columbia. “Nobody can afford to get so angry because your first choice did not win. If you stay home in November, you are going to get Trump back.”

“No matter who our nominee is, we can’t make the mistake that we made in ’16,” Representative Dave Loebsack of Iowa said that night in Cedar Rapids as he introduced his preferred 2020 candidate, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., at a town hall meeting. “We all got to get behind that person so we can get Donald Trump out of office,” Mr. Loebsack added.

In interviews, Democratic leaders say they believe the party’s fights over such politically fraught issues as treasured entitlement programs, personal integrity, and gender and electability could hand Mr. Trump and foreign actors ammunition with which to depress turnout for their standard-bearer.

“I am concerned about facing another disinformation campaign from the other side,” said Representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, a Biden supporter who was uneasy enough that he recently sought out high-profile congressional backers of some of the other contenders to discuss an eventual détente. “For those of us who are elected officials, we need to exercise real leadership to make sure all of the camps are immediately united after all this is over.”

Most Democrats believe that the deep revulsion their party’s voters and activists share for Mr. Trump will ultimately help heal primary season wounds and rally support behind whoever emerges as the nominee. “If it means getting rid of Donald Trump, they would swallow Attila the Hun,” State Representative Todd Rutherford, the Democratic leader of the South Carolina House, said of his party’s rank-and-file.

And some leading Democrats were less worried about recovering from the cut-and-thrust of the primary fights than figuring out how to address the deep fissures within their coalition that this race has exposed.

“The Democrats cover everybody from Bernie to Bloomberg and that does present a real problem in terms of making a decision,” said former Gov. Jerry Brown of California, himself a former presidential hopeful, referring to former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York. “It’s not blendable at this point. And if the division continues you’re not going to get a first-ballot candidate.”

The political and cultural distance between the two leading Democratic candidates, Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders, is easy enough to grasp from their events.

A rally for Mr. Sanders in Exeter, N.H., last weekend featured the actor John Cusack, who introduced his candidate by invoking left-wing writers like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and denouncing neoliberalism and imperialism.

The event had few of the trappings of Mr. Biden’s events, like the Pledge of Allegiance and a call for blessings upon the American military and the restoration of consensus and comity in Washington. The former vice president does not ask his audiences to raise their hands if they know anyone arrested for marijuana possession, as Mr. Sanders usually does.

Vivid as the surface differences are between Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden, what’s even more revealing are the views that emerge in polling and conversations with their supporters.

A new CNN survey showed that about as many Democrats under 50 would be upset or dissatisfied with Mr. Biden as the nominee as they would be enthusiastic. And among those older than 65, views were even starker about Mr. Sanders: just 23 percent said they’d be enthusiastic about him while 33 percent said they’d be upset or dissatisfied.

Mr. Sanders has tried to bolster his standing with older voters, and lessen their ardor for Mr. Biden, by trumpeting his support for Social Security and highlighting the former vice president’s past willingness to consider cuts to the program — a contrast Sanders supporters believe is vital given Mr. Trump’s suggestion this week that he’d pursue entitlement trims.

Interviews with Sanders supporters at his events in New Hampshire and at the King Day gathering in South Carolina revealed a group of progressive activists who were as dedicated to him as they were in 2016 — and who were uneasy about his rivals, especially Mr. Biden. That was borne out in a new poll of New Hampshire primary voters this week from Suffolk University, which indicated that nearly a quarter of the Vermont senator’s supporters would not commit to backing the party’s nominee if it was not Mr. Sanders.

That number could drop by November if Mr. Sanders does not win the nomination: research shows that most of Mr. Sanders’s supporters eventually rallied to Mrs. Clinton against Mr. Trump. Yet it would not necessarily happen easily, especially if Mr. Sanders’s supporters believe he’s been treated unfairly by the party.

Many Sanders supporters who said they would grudgingly support one of his rivals against Mr. Trump quickly added that that’s all they’d do, ruling out doing the volunteer work that is the lifeblood of all campaigns.

“I just couldn’t morally,” Laura Satkowski said, explaining why she would not canvass or make phone calls on behalf of Mr. Biden. “I don’t like his policies.”

Some pro-Sanders households are mixed.

Michelle McKay and her partner, Bill Davis, came to the South Carolina State House from their home in Raleigh, N.C., she wearing a vest festooned with Sanders buttons, to show their support for their candidate.

“Hell no,” Ms. McKay said about the prospect of backing Mr. Biden. Reminded that North Carolina could be a pivotal state in the general election, she said: “I don’t care. My vote is not going to an establishment Democrat.”

Mr. Davis, though, said that while he didn’t want to vote for anybody besides Mr. Sanders, he’d cast a ballot for any Democrat against Mr. Trump. “I think the party will come together,” he said, as Ms. McKay looked on unconvinced.

For many Democratic leaders, the hope for party unity rests on shared loathing of Mr. Trump. His divisive record and conduct in office helped propel Democrats to a new House majority in 2018 and a number of governorships in the last three years.

Yet while his astonishing election and often demagogic politics have accelerated the rise of the left, energizing a new generation of progressives and socialists, Mr. Trump’s presidency has also enlarged the moderate wing of the party, creating a slice of de facto Democrats among the Republicans and right-leaning independents who cannot abide him.

Phil Richardson, a farmer who came to the Biden event in Fort Dodge with his wife, Christy, said he’d be happy to vote for Mr. Sanders.

But Mr. Richardson said his worry is that others in his community would find it harder to support somebody so liberal.

“I’ve had some of my farmer friends tell me they could probably live with Biden but he couldn’t go for Bernie,” he said.

Over in Dubuque, Iowa, Ron Davis said flatly that he’d support Mr. Trump if Mr. Sanders was the nominee.

An Ames, Iowa, native who now lives in suburban Detroit, Mr. Davis and his wife, Barbara Rom, are retirees traversing Iowa as political tourists this week — “candidate groupies,” he called them — and trying to decide who to support in Michigan’s primary in March.

On Wednesday they came to the University of Dubuque to see Mr. Buttigieg, who impressed Mr. Davis. Mr. Sanders, however, would be “too radical a change,” he said. Ms. Rom said she’d back Mr. Sanders if it meant defeating Mr. Trump.

If it all seems messy, and the party hopelessly fragmented, that’s for good reason, said Kathleen Sebelius, the former Kansas governor and health and human services secretary who grew up in Democratic politics as the daughter of a former Ohio governor.

“This primary is a reflection of the politics of the country at large,” Ms. Sebelius said. “There are clearly differences among people who still feel incremental change is the best way of getting things done, and folks who say we need more to pursue more radical change.”

She said she’d be more worried if Democrats didn’t have Mr. Trump as “a rallying cry,” but conceded there was no candidate on the horizon who could fully unify the party’s factions.

“There is no savior who’s going to rescue us from the current state of affairs,” she said. “We’re all going to need to save each other.”

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How Will Thousands of Latinos in Iowa Be Greeted at ‘El Caucus’?

Westlake Legal Group 00translator1-facebookJumbo How Will Thousands of Latinos in Iowa Be Greeted at ‘El Caucus’? Voting and Voters United States Politics and Government Spanish Language Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 League of United Latin American Citizens Iowa Hispanic-Americans DES MOINES, Iowa Democratic Party

DES MOINES — There is no Spanish translation for a caucus, that political process particular to just a few states. It is simply “el caucus.”

But for many Latinos in Iowa, el caucus is hardly simple. The state’s Latino population has surged in recent decades, with the number registered to vote estimated at more than 50,000, making it a potentially important bloc in the fast-approaching Democratic caucuses. And local leaders like Vanessa Marcano-Kelly believe there are not nearly enough Spanish-tailored caucus sites or interpreters to meet the need in the state.

“I feel like this year everyone has been talking about how Iowa is super-white, but it’s really not super-white to me,” said Ms. Marcano-Kelly, who petitioned the state Democratic Party to create caucus sites in Spanish. “I see Latinos everywhere.”

It is the first Iowa caucus for Ms. Marcano-Kelly, 34. In 2016, she watched from the sidelines, slightly bewildered at the spectacle and wondering how people could possibly understand if they did not speak English. As she wrote in her application months ago to the state Democratic Party, the Spanish sites would “ensure that the voices of all people can really be heard.”

So on Feb. 3, the doors will open at the South Suburban Y.M.C.A. in Des Moines for hundreds of Spanish-speaking caucusgoers. Ms. Marcano-Kelly has been refreshing her Spanish vocabulary as she searches for the right words — some easier (viable is “viable”), some more obscure (threshold is “límite”).

Though Latinos make up just 6 percent of Iowa’s population, they have more than doubled in the state in the last two decades. In nearly a dozen towns throughout the state, Latinos now make up more than a third of the population. And since 2016, the League of United Latin American Citizens has worked to get thousands more registered to vote, a number the group estimates has now grown to 53,000.

Roughly 194,000 Latinos live in the state, and by most estimates, fewer than 3,000 participated in the 2016 caucuses. This year, Latino activists expect that number to grow to 20,000 or more. And for the first time, there are set to be six Spanish satellite caucus sites, a concession Democratic Party officials made to try to increase participation.

But despite the efforts, many activists believe there are not nearly enough interpreters lined up for the caucuses. Party officials are still scrambling to find bilingual speakers to run the Spanish caucuses, even as they look for more Spanish speakers to volunteer at other sites throughout the state.

And while some campaigns plan to send Spanish-speaking volunteers to towns where Latinos make up more than a third of the population, there is no clear system to ensure that Spanish-speaking caucusgoers will have interpretation services.

“Whatever the number is, I think it would be impossible to have enough to meet the need,” said Rob Barron, a Polk County school board member who runs a group dedicated to electing more Latinos to office. “Even if you’re a native English speaker, the process is intimidating. So for those who are willing to walk into that room without speaking the language, then hear words like viable, it’s only going to get more and more chaotic and confusing.”

In her day job, Ms. Marcano-Kelly travels all over the state as a Spanish interpreter, working in courts, medical offices and community centers. She learned years ago that more work was available than she could ever take on.

“We’re always short,” she said, adding that she knew of fewer than 10 fully certified interpreters in the state.

A native of Venezuela, Ms. Marcano-Kelly became a citizen just last year, after years of studying and working in the United States. After spending some of her teenage years in Boca Raton, Fla., she applied to South Dakota State University — choosing the college because it had the cheapest international student tuition she could find.

When the Democratic Party put a call out for applications for satellite caucuses that could be held away from traditional geographic precincts, Ms. Marcano-Kelly knew immediately that she would write one for Spanish. She thought of several of her friends who recently became citizens but do not speak English, as well as many Puerto Ricans she knows who moved to Iowa after Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017.

As soon as the application was approved, Ms. Marcano-Kelly rushed to get a news release to Spanish radio stations and newspapers throughout the state, describing the caucuses as “asambleas comunitarias electorales” — community electoral assemblies. But el caucus is what sticks.

For all the linguistic efforts, Ms. Marcano-Kelly was certain of one thing: She did not want to be the one to run the caucus.

“That would be just way too big of a leap,” she said, laughing, over a gyro lunch not far from the State Capitol. As it is, she is more than a little anxious that her ambitions got ahead of her.

After submitting the satellite application, Ms. Marcano-Kelly decided she would become the precinct captain for Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign, in charge of rounding up supporters who come to the Spanish caucus. But in recent days she has found herself grappling with whether her primary responsibility lies with the campaign or individual voters.

On a recent Saturday, Ms. Marcano-Kelly gathered with a few other community activists at the American Friends Service Committee for caucus training. The choices were more straightforward than policy platforms — participants were asked to choose among chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and M&M cookies and stand in a corner with the plate of cookies they preferred.

Ms. Marcano-Kelly was team M&M, but when it came time for the undecideds to choose, she did not argue the merits of candy-coated chocolate and instead dispassionately translated the pleas from others. Moments later, she reflected with some alarm about whether she would do the same on caucus night.

“I do pride myself in my ethics, but you know, I have a job to do,” she said. “So what do I do, deputize someone? Ultimately, above my undying loyalty for Bernie, I want people to participate and to be fair.”

Ms. Marcano-Kelly came into interpretation after working as a community organizer in Iowa. Burned out by long hours and low pay, she decided to take advantage of her fluency in English, Spanish and French and became a certified interpreter in 2015.

“The thing that is beautiful about being an interpreter is that you’re not going to omit, you’re not going to add, you’re not going to give advice, you’re going to literally let that person express in their own voice,” she said. “That’s what I am hoping everyone does here.”

But even more than that, Ms. Marcano-Kelly is hoping that the bilingual caucus turns into a monolingual Spanish caucus, so that there will be no need for interpretation at all.

“I’m nervous it’s going to be kind of chaotic,” she said.

Evidence of a booming Latino population can be seen in pockets all over the state, including Des Moines, where Latinos make up 12 percent of the city’s population and 26 percent of public school students. In recent years, Mexicans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans have settled here, many moving from California, Texas and Illinois.

As the temperature dipped below zero on a recent Sunday, the Mercado Iowa Market, an indoor swap meet, was packed with people drinking steaming champurrado and eating pupusas made on electric griddles. Couples sold hand-embroidered blouses and glittering cowboy boots imported from Mexico.

A Sanders campaign staff member was also present, handing out pamphlets in Spanish and answering questions for perplexed could-be caucusgoers.

Showing up to places where Latinos congregate has been a key part of the strategy for some of the campaigns and the League of United Latin American Citizens, more commonly known as LULAC, which has led the effort to register more Latinos. The group has held voter registration drives at tiendas and sponsored several mock caucus trainings in the state, with a handful more to come. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has sent a Latinx outreach director to dozens of festivals in the state over the last several months.

The Sanders campaign, in particular, has zeroed in on Latinos as a key voting bloc that it believes will prove vital to a win in Iowa. Advisers believe that increasing the number of Latinos who show up to caucus could push the campaign over the edge to gain more delegates.

In a novel way of attracting potential supporters, the campaign sponsored a futsal tournament, which brought out hundreds of Spanish-speaking soccer players and fans one recent Saturday night. So far, Mr. Sanders’s campaign appears to be the only one with precinct captains designated for the Spanish caucuses.

Despite the increased efforts this year, many Latino activists say the Democratic Party as a whole has not done enough to cultivate Latino voters, a criticism that is echoed nationally and that many believe could hurt the party in the general election.

“You would think that Iowa would really be a test case for Democrats,” said Joe Henry, who helped spearhead registration efforts in the state. “It isn’t hard for them to reach out to us. They either don’t see us, or when they see us they don’t want to listen.”

“The caucus has always been kind of like an inside game,” he added. “So we are inviting ourselves.”

There is still one question that keeps nagging at Ms. Marcano-Kelly.

“What is the plan,” she asks, “to make sure this goes smoothly?”

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Stuck in the Senate as Their 2020 Rivals Have Iowa to Themselves

Westlake Legal Group 22candidates-impeachment1-facebookJumbo Stuck in the Senate as Their 2020 Rivals Have Iowa to Themselves Warren, Elizabeth Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Klobuchar, Amy impeachment Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — Hours into the first long night of President Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont kept checking his watch. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts sipped hot water — one of two drinks allowed in the chamber — to warm up. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota jotted down notes. And Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado stood and listened.

Around the same time, more than 1,000 miles west at a community college in Fort Dodge, Iowa, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was warning an audience about the divided nation that the next president would inherit.

And at a veterans hall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., was coming out swinging against Mr. Trump, prompting 1,200 voters to chant “Pete! Pete!”

“Wouldn’t it be nice to put the tweets behind us?” Mr. Buttigieg said.

Something extraordinary is happening to the Democratic presidential primary: An intensely competitive race has been thrown into a state of semi-suspended animation less than two weeks before caucusing begins. Three candidates who have a shot at breakout performances in Iowa on Feb. 3, Ms. Warren, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Klobuchar, are suddenly stuck at the Senate impeachment trial in Washington, while their rivals have the campaign trail largely to themselves.

Normally the final two weeks before the caucuses are a frenetic blitz of four to six events a day for each candidate, barreling from the Mississippi River in the east to the Missouri River in the west. Instead, Ms. Warren, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Klobuchar — as well as Mr. Bennet, who is averaging less than 1 percent in Iowa polls — are in their Senate seats for many hours on end, operating under a vow of near-silence, unable to see and be seen by the hundreds of voters they would normally be courting from morning to night.

They are putting their campaign needs in the hands of their young field organizers, who are knocking doors in subfreezing temperatures in Iowa, and political surrogates who are standing in for them at events. Among those on deck are Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York for Mr. Sanders; former Secretary Julián Castro, his twin brother, Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas, and the actress and activist Ashley Judd for Ms. Warren; and Phill Drobnick, a Minnesotan who coached the Olympic gold medal-winning men’s curling team in 2018, for Ms. Klobuchar.

Winning Iowa usually depends on candidates making strong closing arguments and sealing the deal in person with undecided caucusgoers. But the senators are counting on their political organizations and their weekend fly-ins when the trial is adjourned to carry the day.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg have wasted no time angling for an advantage, traveling across Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday as the trial was getting underway, and making plans to devote precious time to campaigning later this week in New Hampshire and South Carolina, respectively. Candidates normally would never leave Iowa at this late stage, but Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg don’t have to worry about Ms. Warren or Mr. Sanders, their chief rivals, fighting for caucus votes on the ground.

“Tomorrow I will be in an impeachment trial,” Mr. Sanders told supporters Monday night in Des Moines. “How long it lasts? Honestly don’t know. I am not going to be able to be here as much as I would like. So you guys are going to have to carry the ball.”

In Iowa, several voters said it wasn’t fair to judge the candidates based on whether or not they were present in the state.

As she waited to hear from Mr. Biden on Tuesday evening, Pam Rose, 65, of Fort Dodge, said that it was “unfortunate” that the senators had to be off the trail, but stressed that she did not hold it against them.

“Their job is important,” she said. “It’s not fair to ask if Joe has an advantage if he’s not in Washington.”

On Wednesday, as the senators arrived at the Capitol for party lunch meetings before the trial started up again, Mr. Buttigieg was in Dubuque, comforting a woman seeking laws to speed the development of experimental drugs to treat her A.L.S.

Speaking before an audience of hundreds, he seemed to go out of his way to describe the time he has spent in Iowa, citing voter after voter he has encountered in the state in the past year — perhaps a pointed reminder that several of his rivals were absent.

When asked about climate change, he recalled a visit to a tiny town in the western part of the state. “I’m thinking about a kid in Shenandoah who raised his hand and asked me how farm families could be part of the solution,” he said.

A little later, as senators were preparing for another marathon session, Mr. Biden reminded voters in Mason City of the great responsibility they had as residents of the leadoff caucus state, before hitting back at a reporter who had pressed him on his tensions with Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Biden, a former six–term senator and decades-long evangelist for the chamber, did not seem upset to be missing the historic trial. In fact, he barely tuned in.

“I didn’t get to see it all because I was out here campaigning in Iowa, doing town meetings,” he said in a television interview Wednesday morning. “But what I saw the reruns of, it was — I have a great respect and reverence for the Senate, for real. And I was embarrassed for the institution.”

No one knows how long the trial will last. Could it conclude before the caucuses? Perhaps. Or, as some campaign staff members argue, their voices tinged with a touch of wistfulness, Republicans could vote to end proceedings at any moment.

The uncertainty has led to some flexible scheduling. Ms. Warren plans to travel along the eastern border of Iowa for a series of town halls on Saturday. Or not, if the Senate has other plans. Schedules for Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Sanders remain even more uncertain, their aides say.

But the candidates are pursuing creative solutions to make up for their absence. Ms. Klobuchar spent her morning in a television studio in Washington, beaming into local stations in Iowa and New Hampshire for interviews that would air while she was in the chamber, and rushed out for a cable interview in the afternoon, during a break in the proceedings. Her daughter took over her Twitter account to detail her own travels across Iowa.

Mark Oehlert, a retired Lutheran pastor who came to hear Mr. Buttigieg speak on Wednesday afternoon, said he was glad Democratic senators were fulfilling their constitutional duty.

“They’re doing what they’re supposed to do,” he said, adding, “I hope that people look more broadly” than who would gain a political edge in Iowa during the Senate trial.

“We want them in the trenches,” Nancy Oehlert, his wife, said, hoping for — though not expecting — a conviction of Mr. Trump in the Senate.

Strict Senate rules, dating back decades, complicate the workings of modern campaigns responding to rapidly changing news cycles. Official decorum guidelines circulated last week banned cellphones and urged senators to “refrain from speaking” with their colleagues during the trial. No food is permitted and only two beverages, water and milk, are allowed. Communication with the outside world happens through notes ferried out of the chamber by Senate pages. When Hillary Clinton assailed Mr. Sanders in an interview published on Tuesday, his team struggled to confirm details about their relationship, saying the senator was difficult to reach.

Walking back into the Capitol on Wednesday morning, Ms. Warren dismissed concerns that her time in Washington could cost her ground in the primary contest. “Some things are more important than politics,” she said.

Aides to Ms. Warren said she had left the Capitol at 2 a.m., after spending the previous twelve hours in near silence, with short breaks to check her phone and grab some salad in the Senate cloakroom with her colleagues. (She passed on the pizza, they reported.)

In Iowa, Mr. Buttigieg’s day ended around 10 p.m., when he met a friend for dinner Tuesday evening before retiring to his hotel. Over the course of nearly 12 hours, his campaign said, he’d addressed nearly 1,800 voters.

Trip Gabriel contributed reporting from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Katie Glueck from Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Emily Cochrane from Washington.

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Biden and Sanders Trade Criticism Over Honesty, Social Security and Guns

Westlake Legal Group 21biden-sanders3-facebookJumbo Biden and Sanders Trade Criticism Over Honesty, Social Security and Guns Social Security (US) Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

MASON CITY, Iowa — A day after former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders appeared to have brokered a truce after weeks of tension, Mr. Biden released a video on Tuesday night suggesting the Sanders campaign was engaging in “dishonest attacks” and Mr. Sanders responded with a video of his own criticizing Mr. Biden over his Social Security record.

The escalation between the two leading presidential candidates, who are competing for an overlapping slice of blue-collar voters here in the leadoff caucus state, came on the same day that an explosive interview with Hillary Clinton landed, in which the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee blasted Mr. Sanders in starkly personal terms.

Mr. Sanders, a senator from Vermont, is required on Capitol Hill for President Trump’s impeachment trial, and will have only limited ability to respond on the campaign trail and in local media markets with less than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

“Bernie’s negative attacks won’t change the truth: Joe Biden is still the strongest Democrat to beat Donald Trump,” says the video that Mr. Biden tweeted on Tuesday evening. The video is a social media spot with no money behind it, according to Mr. Biden’s campaign.

In recent weeks, the Sanders campaign has indeed been intensely critical of Mr. Biden: over his vote to authorize the war in Iraq, a record Mr. Biden has repeatedly mischaracterized; over Mr. Biden’s long record on Social Security, issuing at least one false attack, according to the fact-checking outlet PolitiFact; and over his reliance on high-dollar donors, with a prominent Sanders surrogate claiming in an op-ed article on Monday that Mr. Biden had “a big corruption problem.”

Mr. Sanders’s campaign circulated the article. But by the end of the day, Mr. Sanders had told CBS News that “it is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way. And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared.” Mr. Biden, who has also been critical of the Sanders campaign and claimed without evidence on Saturday that Mr. Sanders’s team was promoting a “doctored” video about his Social Security position, tweeted his thanks.

Yet by Tuesday afternoon, the Biden campaign was fund-raising off the candidates’ clashes, repeating a tactic from over the weekend.

“Bernie Sanders’ campaign has unleashed a barrage of negative attacks, lying about and distorting Joe’s record,” read a fund-raising text message. Still, Mr. Biden acknowledged Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Mr. Sanders had personally apologized for the corruption op-ed and that Mr. Biden had accepted the apology.

The video and the fund-raising appeal centered on a recent Sanders campaign claim that Mr. Biden had praised former Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Mr. Biden’s 2012 rival for the vice presidency, in support of making cuts to Social Security. PolitiFact found that claim to be false and lacking context.

But it is the case that throughout his decades in public life, Mr. Biden, a former senator from Delaware, has supported freezes and proposals that worried some Social Security advocates.

“Bernie’s campaign is not telling the truth,” Mr. Biden’s video says, going on to detail his record on the matter and to say that his current plan would protect Social Security and increase benefits.

In a statement Tuesday night, Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, called the Biden spot the “first negative ad of the 2020 Democratic primary.”

He added: “Let’s be clear about why: He’s trying to distort his decades-long record of proposing and voting for cuts to Social Security benefits for millions of people. Joe Biden is no defender of Social Security, and a negative ad won’t help him outrun his record.”

Mr. Sanders is seeking to cut into Mr. Biden’s base of older caucusgoers in Iowa, seizing on an issue of great significance to them.

“Let’s be honest, Joe,” Mr. Sanders wrote as he tweeted out his own video on Tuesday, using Mr. Biden’s own words from years ago about freezing Social Security. “One of us fought for decades to cut Social Security, and one of us didn’t. But don’t take it from me. Take it from you.”

Sydney Ember contributed reporting from Des Moines, and Thomas Kaplan from Washington.

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Trump Fans or Not, Business Owners Are Wary of Warren and Sanders

Westlake Legal Group 00econdems1-facebookJumbo Trump Fans or Not, Business Owners Are Wary of Warren and Sanders Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Small Business Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

When it comes to President Trump’s economic policies, there is not much that appeals to Grady Cope, the founder of a machining and assembly company in Englewood, Colo.

He doesn’t approve of tariffs, which have disrupted his supply chains and raised costs. He is turned off by the president’s disparagement of immigrants. And while small businesses routinely thank the administration for hacking through a regulatory thicket, he said of the pre-Trump rule book, “I can’t think of one time that it affected me or slowed growth.”

“I lean more to the liberal side of things,” said Mr. Cope, who employs 47 people at his firm, Reata Engineering and Machine Works. Yet even though he supports a higher minimum wage and is open to the idea of “Medicare for all,” he is leery of two of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I probably won’t go as far left on issues as Sanders and Warren,” he said.

Wall Street’s disdain for the bottom-up populist campaigns of Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont has gotten a lot of attention. The candidates’ full-throated attacks on corporate greed, extreme wealth and banking excesses are backed up by ambitious plans to upend the industry’s everyday operations.

Wariness extends far beyond an elite financial fellowship, though, to many small and medium-size businesses whose executives are not reflexively Republican but worry that the ascendancy of a left-wing Democrat would create an anti-business climate. In their view, sweeping plans to remake the health care system or slash the cost of higher education will mean higher taxes for businesses and the middle class, no matter what candidates promise.

But if policy is an issue, so is tone. In campaign speeches and debates, some said, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren portray businesses as exploiting the American economic system instead of building it, and of contributing to income inequality instead of creating wealth.

Michael Brady, the owner of two employment franchises in Jacksonville, Fla., is one of the independent business executives interviewed who feel unappreciated. “I get up before 6 o’clock every morning and work hard,” he said. “I put 200 people to work every week.”

Mr. Brady, 53, said he voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Mr. Trump in 2016. Since then, he said, some of the president’s actions and “some of his tweets” have made him cringe.

He said he could vote for a Democrat this year. But he finds several of the economic proposals from the party’s left wing off-putting, mentioning free college tuition and a nationwide $15-an-hour minimum wage.

What particularly irks Mr. Brady, though, are some of Ms. Warren’s statements about successful entrepreneurs’ not having built their businesses entirely on their own. Attacks on the country’s wealthy elite have also grated.

“When did the word millionaire or billionaire become a bad word?” he asked. “I cheer those people on because they’ve lived the American dream.”

Ms. Warren has explained for years that she, too, cheers hard-driven capitalists, but adds that as important as private enterprise is, its successes are built on governmental investments like roads, education, police officers and firefighters. And so the winners, she argues, need to share more of their haul.

To Mr. Brady, though, the comments sound like an insult. “It’s strictly the pro-business mentality that drives me to vote,” he said.

In the meantime, Mr. Trump has fueled such feelings by referring to the Democrats as “radical socialists.”

Democratic moderates warn that a leftward tilt in the party’s presidential nomination could alienate potential swing voters like Mr. Brady. Some point to Mr. Obama’s recent warning that “the average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system.”

“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality,” Mr. Obama told a group of donors in November.

Candidates like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have sought to dominate the political center lane. But none has matched the degree of enthusiasm and devotion that Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders have generated among supporters inspired by prospects of visionary change.

The belief that voters are yearning for another moderate alternative recently helped motivate former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts to reverse their decisions to forgo the 2020 election.

The billionaire Mr. Bloomberg, who announced his candidacy in November, has emphasized his background as a self-made business executive. In an early advertisement, he described himself as “a middle-class kid who made good.” Mr. Patrick, a friend of Mr. Obama’s, has positioned himself as someone who wants to bring people together and looks for middle ground.

But even with the first Democratic contests weeks away, the November presidential election can seem far off.

Beri Fox, president and chief executive of Marble King in Paden City, W.Va., possibly the last American manufacturer of toy marbles, said she had not yet focused on the candidates’ overall plans, just “bits and pieces.”

Making sure American companies can compete with China is a priority for her, said Ms. Fox, who employs 28 people. She hopes that Mr. Trump’s confrontational approach on trade will work in the long run, but also feels that Mr. Biden cares deeply about domestic manufacturers. She has not decided whom to support for president.

For some, the battle for the Democratic nomination is still mostly background noise.

With so many candidates still in contention, “it just doesn’t seem worth my time to pick a heartthrob at this time,” said Rick Woldenberg, chief executive of Learning Resources in Vernon Hills, Ill., a family-owned manufacturer of educational materials and toys.

Mr. Woldenberg’s primary concern is the future of his business, which employs more than 200 people. The 2017 tax cuts engineered by Mr. Trump and his party helped generate more cash for investment, he said, but tariffs on imports have been punishing, raising the cost of materials and straining relations with customers and international vendors.

He also finds the president’s routine combativeness unsettling, not to mention his impeachment.

“I tend to favor politicians who are more moderate in their views,” Mr. Woldenberg said. “And I would not consider Trump to be especially moderate.”

Yet neither are Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, he said. Labeling them “very extreme,” he said that expensive plans like Medicare for all would depress the economy and that a wealth tax would be “catastrophic.”

The generally positive economic outlook, of course, could shift significantly in the coming year. The recent flare-up in tensions between the United States and Iran was a reminder that by the time of the election, international events could eclipse domestic ones.

At the moment, though, executives are focused on their businesses.

Tom Gimbel, the founder and chief executive of LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based employment agency, is looking for a candidate who will promote economic growth.

“Trump may be a loose cannon on international stuff, but domestically Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are loose cannons on restricting business,” Mr. Gimbel said. “Giving things away for free is a slap in the face for people who played by the rules. Where does it stop? Are we going to start paying off mortgage debt?”

He mentioned several other concerns about Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, including a wealth tax, broader eligibility for overtime pay, and pro-worker rulings that could come from a liberal National Labor Relations Board.

“We don’t need the opposite of Trump,” Mr. Gimbel said. “We don’t need an opposite of crazy. We need a moderate.”

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Bad Timing for Jury Duty

Westlake Legal Group 16onpolitics-pm-facebookJumbo Bad Timing for Jury Duty Warren, Elizabeth Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Klobuchar, Amy Iowa Bennet, Michael Farrand

Last January, Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan exploded onto the national political scene with her expletive-laden cry to impeach President Trump. A little more than a year later, senators arrived in their chamber today to somberly sign an oath to deliver “impartial justice” in Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial.

It’s a moment that many Democrats have been waiting months — even years — to see. But for the four senators running for president, it’s also a moment they wish could have happened just a couple of months sooner.

The rules for senators at the trial are firm: six days a week in the Senate chamber, no cellphones, no talking.

It’s hard to overstate how big a problem this is for the candidates serving as jurors. In Iowa, where the caucuses are less than three weeks away, the four leading contenders are locked in a dead-heat race, polling shows.

Two can keep campaigning without restrictions: Joe Biden, the former vice president, and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind. The other two will most likely be stuck in Washington much of the time: Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

And unlike voters in big states (think Texas or California, where advertising is king), Iowans expect to see their candidates up close. In their living rooms. At their farms and their ethanol plants. Or at the very least, in a banquet hall somewhere.

David Axelrod, one of the architects of Barack Obama’s underdog win in the state in 2008, said Mr. Obama campaigned until he lost his voice, meeting thousands of voters in the final week before the caucuses.

“It was like, meet everyone you can meet, go everywhere you can go,” he recalled. “That personal contact closing the sale is really important.”

So, this is not the time any candidate wants to be locked in a room with 99 other senators, forbidden to speak or even to look at a phone. And no one knows exactly how long the trial will last.

White House aides hope the process will wrap up by the State of the Union address on Feb. 4, the day after the Iowa caucuses. But top Senate Republicans have indicated that they expect the trial could easily extend past then, running into the New Hampshire primary and maybe even beyond if the Senate votes to call witnesses.

The campaigns are trying to make the best of a bad situation, chartering planes for middle-of-the-night flights back to Washington and organizing town hall events hosted via phone or video chat. Mr. Sanders plans to leverage his social media following by hosting live-stream events. (In the first week of January, Mr. Sanders’s live streams received 6.5 million views, according to his campaign.)

They’re also dispatching top surrogates, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York for Mr. Sanders and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts for Ms. Warren.

But, of course, supporting cast members can never really replace the star of the show.

The dynamic is probably most damaging to Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who lacks the national brands of Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren and has predicated her success on a strong finish in Iowa, where she is polling in fifth place. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, who has less than 1 percent support in the polls, will also be pulled off the campaign trail.

Meanwhile, Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg plan to spend much of the next three weeks in Iowa.

Aides to Mr. Biden say the trial could be an asset, reminding voters that Mr. Trump fears Mr. Biden as a political opponent. (Revelations that Mr. Trump tried to collect political dirt on Mr. Biden and his family from Ukrainian officials kicked off the impeachment inquiry.) They’ve released a new ad arguing that Mr. Trump is “obsessed” with their candidate.

Mr. Buttigieg is planning to spend 15 of the 18 days before the caucuses barnstorming the state.

“I’ll leave it to the analysts to figure out the political impacts,” Mr. Buttigieg said in Iowa on Wednesday. “We’re going to use every moment available to us to continue making the case and to continue listening to voters.”

For Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, there might be a tiny sliver of sunshine in all this impeachment doom. The hearings will distract from their escalating — and mutually distracting — feud.

“I have no further comment on this,” Ms. Warren told reporters at the Capitol today when asked about her relationship with Mr. Sanders. “We are here right now at an important moment in American history. And that’s what we need to keep our focus on.”


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With impeachment racing ahead, it can be hard to keep track of the daily stream of new developments. So our colleagues from the Impeachment Briefing newsletter have generously volunteered to catch us up every Thursday on what has happened during the week.

  • The case has moved to the Senate. This week the House of Representatives formally delivered to the Senate two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial, was sworn in, and then administered an oath to the senators.

  • Democrats picked their managers. Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed a team of seven so-called impeachment managers, members of Congress who will act as prosecutors and present the House’s case against Mr. Trump before the Senate. There were some predictable picks, like Representatives Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler, along with some surprises, including the first-term members Jason Crow and Sylvia Garcia.

  • More evidence came out. House Democrats released dozens of pages of documents that detailed efforts in Ukraine by Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and his associates. The revelations brought even more intense calls from Senate Democrats to allow new evidence and witnesses to be introduced in the trial.

  • The trial starts next week. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said the trial would begin in earnest next Tuesday, and Senate leaders said they expected it to last three to five weeks. Unlike the House hearings, though, the Senate proceedings will provide little room for grandstanding — senators will submit their questions in writing.

You can sign up for the Impeachment Briefing newsletter here.


Sorry, everyone, Mr. Sanders will not be offering birthday greetings. Here’s what he told the New York Times editorial board on the subject.

This calls for you to be a little self-critical. What are you likely to fail at or to do poorly as president?

Talk to The New York Times. Look, I don’t tolerate [expletive] terribly well, and I come from a different background than a lot of other people who run the country. I’m not good at backslapping. I’m not good at pleasantries.

If you have your birthday, I’m not going to call you up to congratulate you, so you’ll love me and you’ll write nice things about me.

That’s not what I do. Never have. I take that as a little bit of a criticism, self-criticism. I have been amazed at how many people respond to, “Happy Birthday!” “Oh Bernie, thanks so much for calling.” It works. It’s just not my style.

Check out transcripts of the editorial board’s interviews with nine of the candidates. And be sure to tune into “The Weekly” on FX and Hulu on Sunday night, when the board will unveil its endorsement for the Democratic nomination. (The board is completely separate from those of us in the newsroom.)

Who will get The New York Times’s rose?


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