As we head into a busy week for the Iowa State Fair, CBS News Campaign Reporters Musadiq Bidar and Adam Brewster are seeing different tiers of staffing numbers for the 2020 Democratic Presidential campaigns. At least 9 campaigns have more than 35 full-time paid staffers on the ground in Iowa, not including interns and “fellows.” The campaigns of Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg all have more than 50 full time paid staffers. Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke all have between 35-50 full time staffers in Iowa.
Biden has one of the larger staffs in the state, with about 75 full-time people on the ground, but other campaigns including Warren, Sanders, and Booker already had significant established operations in Iowa by the time the former vice president joined the race in late April. The late start has put the Biden campaign in place where they have to play catch up.
“I think that they made their job more difficult by waiting,” said Kurt Meyer, Chair of Mitchell County Democrats. Former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky also echoed that sentiment about the Biden campaign, telling CBS News, “you can equalize on money, you can equalize on ground game, but what you can’t make up, you can’t get time back. There’s just no way to make time up.” Dvorksy added that Warren had the “earliest” and “most robust” ground game in Iowa.
Caucus-goers still have about 6 months to make up their mind on which candidate they want to support. “People are not as likely to jump on board with campaigns as quickly,” said Penny Rosfjord, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s 4th Congressional District. Rosjford added that organizers will want to proceed with caution over the next few months so caucus goers are not overburdened with calls. “It’s kind of a little cat and mouse game, really, because they need to stay connected to these activists and other folks that are interested in the campaign but you can’t push too hard, either.”
FROM THE CANDIDATES
JAY INSLEE: On Tuesday, CBS News obtained an exclusive copy of Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s 10-Step Plan to halt the epidemic of White Nationalist Gun Violence, per CBS News Campaign Reporter Tim Perry. Highlights of the plan include directing federal law enforcement resources to confront white nationalism, and creating systems to identify, track and prosecute violent white nationalists. The plan also calls for a national assault weapons ban and closing the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows the transfer of firearms to buyers before background checks have been completed. In a statement released by the campaign, Inslee said, “We need a new president who will take on the twin epidemics of rising white nationalism and rising gun violence that have cost too many American lives.” You can read Perry’s write up of the plan here.
PETE BUTTIGIEG: The South Bend Mayor released a plan Tuesday aimed at combatting domestic terrorism and the gun lobby, according to CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. The plan includes a $1 billion dollar investment to combat violent extremism. In a Medium post, Buttigieg said the funds would be allocated to law enforcement across all agencies. Some of the funds will be dedicated to increasing the number of counterterrorism field staff at the FBI and to reinvest in the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to counter and prevent extremism and hate.
“After foreign terrorist attacks, airport travelers now have to take off their shoes. After three mass shootings in a single week, Congress takes off for recess,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “The cycle of cut-and-paste condemnation and inaction must give way to a new approach of urgency and action.”
Buttigieg also plans to work with social media companies to track and “limit the spread of hateful ideology” online. In regards to gun violence prevention, Buttigieg calls for universal background checks, banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines and closing numerous gun loopholes.
“Weapons like the one I carried in Afghanistan have no place on our streets or in our schools — least of all in the hands of white nationalists,” Buttigieg said in the Medium post.
Buttigieg’s policy proposal also indicates his support for the creation of a national gun licensing program, allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research gun violence and supporting red flag laws, which would grant judges the ability to seize guns from an owner who is a threat to themselves or others.
BERNIE SANDERS: According to CBS News Campaign Reporter Nicole Sganga, Sen. Bernie Sanders unrolled new endorsements Tuesday from seven local leaders in New Hampshire, including refugees and representatives from the Bhutanese, Rohingya, and Congolese communities in the state: July Blaise Nganyi Imembe, Ro Mohammad Mustak, Geraldine Kirega, Surya Thapa, Krishna Nepal, Victor Mbuyi, and Rajesh Chauwan. Constituencies Director Suraj Budathoki said in a statement, “Bernie’s message of Medicare for All, a $15/hour minimum wage, tuition-free college and trade schools, and an economy that works for all of us resonates with New Americans because, like millions of immigrants and former refugees before us, we came here to build a better life for ourselves and our families.”
UP NORTH: Sganga also reports that Concord, New Hampshire is currently coping with its own gun reform battle. Following a rally at the State Capitol yesterday, a package of gun violence prevention bills are headed to Governor Chris Sununu’s desk: HB 109, closing background check loopholes; HB 514, establishing a “waiting period” between purchase and delivery of a firearm; and HB 564, clarifying statewide gun free schools.
Democratic House Speaker Stephen Shurtleff said in a statement that he carried a gun as both Vietnam War veteran and deputy U.S. marshal, but noted, “This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a New Hampshire and an American issue and it’s going to take all of us working together for the common good to find a solution.”
The Governor released a statement last night, writing in part, “Like the entire nation, I was horrified by the senseless acts of hate and violence this past weekend. What we must say unequivocally is that hate, white supremacy, and acts of domestic terror have no place in New Hampshire or anywhere in this country. While we will never know all the things that lead a person to commit acts of evil, we must be mindful that the mental health crisis gripping our state and nation is a significant factor.”
NHGOP Communications Director Joe Sweeney said in a statement today, “Democrats are disgustingly politicizing a tragedy by sending the governor these anti-Second Amendment bills immediately following terrible acts of violence in Texas and Ohio. None of these bills would have prevented those tragedies.”
IN OTHER NEWS
MISSISSIPPI PRIMARY: Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves heads into today’s state gubernatorial primaries with two things: 1. A last minute endorsement from Mississippi native Brett Favre and 2. A 10-point polling lead against his most competitive GOP opponent, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr.
The latest Mason-Dixie poll has Reeves at 41 percent, but in order to get the Republican nomination, he needs at least 50 percent of the vote. A Mississippi Republican strategist familiar with the election told CBS News Political Unit Broadcast Associate Aaron Navarro one thing to watch is how many votes go to another Republican candidate, state Rep. Robert Foster, and how much that cuts into Reeves’ and Waller’s percentages.
If none of the three GOP candidates win that majority, a runoff will take place August 27. A Reeves campaign aide said they’re feeling good about the primary so far but are prepared for any result — including a runoff. For Democrats, state Attorney General Jim Hood is the front-runner and has raised over $1.3 million so far. Reeves has ignored his two other GOP candidates for most of his campaign and has centered his campaign on criticizing Hood. Tuesday’s primary will help determine if the two meet in November.