Following a shaky performance in the latest Democratic debate, Joe Biden announces major Iowa campaign tour

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City. Wednesday, May 1, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Just hours after Joe Biden’s stumbling, and occasionally confused, performance in the 2020 Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday night, his campaign announced an 18-county tour of Iowa. The former vice president’s “No Malarkey” tour will start in Council Bluffs on Nov. 30, and conclude with an appearance in Cedar Rapids on Dec. 7.

The times, venues, formats and other details of the tour stops were not included in the campaign’s press release.

The week-long tour will be Biden’s first major push in Iowa since he dropped into a tie for third place with Sen. Bernie Sanders in the most recent Iowa Poll. Both received support from 15 percent of likely Democratic caucus participants. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren led in the poll, with support of 25 and 16 percent, respectively.

Biden’s standing in the state, as measured by the Iowa Poll, has steadily declined since the first poll of the 2020 presidential cycle in December 2018, when he held a decisive lead over all the other potential Democratic candidates with support from 32 percent of respondents.

It’s unlikely Biden’s performance on Wednesday night will help his poll numbers.

Biden repeatedly stressed his 47 years of experience in national politics to argue that he is the most electable candidate. But the 77-year-old’s fumbling delivery highlighted that his long experience results, in part, from his advanced age.

Even in his first answer, while trying to make the case he would be the most electable candidate in the general election, Biden had to correct himself when he misspoke, confusing the primaries with the general election.

But Biden’s biggest moment of confusion came later in the debate, when he was boasting about his level of support among black Democrats. Biden’s boast came during his response to Sen. Cory Booker’s criticism of Biden’s recent description of marijuana as a “gateway drug.”

Booker, of course, was one of two black candidates on the stage, along with Sen. Kamala Harris.

“I come out of the black community in terms of my support,” Biden said. “If you notice, I have more people supporting me in the black community announce for me because they know who I am. Three former chairs of the [Congressional] Black Caucus, the only bla—African-American woman that has ever been elected to the United State Senate, the whole range of people…”

“That’s not true, that’s not true,” Booker said.

At the same time, Harris, the second black woman elected to the Senate, said, “No, that’s not true. The other one is here.” (Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate, represented Illinois from 1993 to 1999.)

As the audience laughed, Biden said firmly, “I said the first. I said the first African-American elected.”

That was not what he said, as everyone in the audience knew.

It was the second time during the debate Biden inadvertently caused the audience to laugh. The first came when Biden was asked about what he would do as president to address “sexual violence and harassment against women.”

In response, Biden talked about the need to change the “culture of how women are treated.” But as he continued to speak, he chose his imagery poorly.

“We have to just change the culture. Period,” Biden said. “And keep punching at it, and punching at it and punching at it.”

The audience erupted into laughter, as Biden kept using the word “punching.” Some of the other candidates struggled to suppress a laugh. But Biden didn’t appear to understand why people were laughing.

“We have big — no, I really mean it — it’s a gigantic issue,” he said.

The candidate wasn’t the only member of the Biden campaign having problems on Wednesday. Hours before the debate started, the campaign sent out a fundraising email that was supposed to sent out after the event.

“I’m leaving the fifth Democratic debate now,” the prematurely-sent mass email began. “I hope I made you proud out there, and I hope I made it clear to the world why our campaign is so important.”

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