Joe Biden returns to Iowa City and asks Democrats to show up for him at the caucus

Joe Biden speaking at an Iowa City meet-and-greet on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. — Anjali Huynh/Little Village

“My dad used to have an expression,” Joe Biden said at the beginning of his brief remarks to the overflow crowd gathered at his Iowa City campaign headquarters on Wednesday evening. “He said, ‘half of winning is showing up.’”

Biden himself showed up to the meet-and-greet seven minutes early to encourage the people at the office, located in the space on S Gilbert Street that used to house Critical Hit, to show up for him at their caucuses in February. It was a stark contrast to his first Iowa City campaign event in May, when he kept the crowd waiting for over an hour.

The rest of the former vice president’s roughly five-minute presentation was similar to the speech he delivered at Big Grove Brewery and Taproom in May.

“The fact is, you know, we can tolerate — well, we can’t tolerate, but we can overcome four years of this president,” Biden said on Wednesday might. “But we cannot — we cannot — overcome eight years of this president. It would fundamentally change who we are.”

“I made a speech today in Burlington that was fairly straightforward,” he continued. “But here’s the deal, we can’t do anything, we can’t get anything done, unless we basically restore the integrity of this country. Restore the soul of the country.”

Biden didn’t explain what he’d said in Burlington, but that speech did receive extensive coverage in the national media.

Joe Biden poses for photos with supporters following the opening of his Iowa City campaign office. Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

“In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation,” Biden said at Barn on the Ridge in Burlington. “His low-energy, vacant-eyed mouthing of the words written for him condemning white supremacists this week fooled no one. The energetic embrace of this president by the darkest hearts, the most hate-filled minds in this country, says it all.”

He asked the crowd, “How far is it from Trump saying this ‘is an invasion’ to the shooter in El Paso declaring, quote, his ‘attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas?’”

Biden said he would back a new law to address the problem of domestic terrorism.

Biden didn’t mention domestic terrorism or the recent series of mass shooting in his Iowa City remarks. He didn’t even mention Trump by name, calling him “this president” and “this guy” instead.

The candidate, who is making his third run for president, did discuss why he is seeking the Democratic nomination.

“I’m running for three reasons,” Biden said. “One — and I mean it sincerely, not a joke — to restore the soul of this country.” The former vice president talked about the ways Trump differs from the values he has embraced during his 47-year career in national politics.

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“The second reason is to restore the backbone of the country,” Biden continued. By “backbone,” he explained, he meant the middle class.

“When the middle class does well — the backbone of the country — everybody does well. The poor have a way up, and the wealthy do very well.”

Biden never enumerated a third reason. But he did assure the crowd that he wouldn’t ignore Iowa after the caucus is over.

“By the way, if I’m the nominee, I’m coming back, because I want to win Iowa in the general election. I really mean it,” Biden said.

He said he believed Democrats could do more than just win the presidential vote in Iowa, they could also elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2020.

“I was around long enough that we had two Democratic senators [from Iowa],” Biden said. “I remember the good old days. There’s no reason why we can’t bring it back.”

The last time Iowa had two Democrats in the U.S. Senate was from 1973 to 1979. That six-year stretch coincided with Biden’s first term in the Senate. (Before that, the state only sent two Democrats to the Senate from 1937 to 1943 and from 1848 to 1855.)

Joe Biden greets supporters at the opening of his Iowa City campaign office. Wednesday, Aug 8, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

After he finished his remarks, Biden went out into the parking lot, where he spent almost an hour talking to people one-on-one, and taking selfies.