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Joe Biden returns to Iowa as he weighs 2020 decision

Before taking the rally stage on Tuesday night, former Vice President Joe Biden met with several attendees b...

Posted: Oct 31, 2018 4:50 PM
Updated: Oct 31, 2018 4:50 PM

Before taking the rally stage on Tuesday night, former Vice President Joe Biden met with several attendees backstage at a private meet and greet.

Among the Iowans he spoke with was state Sen. Pam Jochum, who recently lost her 41-year-old daughter Sarah, who had special needs.

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"He knew that Sarah had died. He knew it. He said 'I tried to call you a couple times' and he said, 'I wasn't able to talk to you, but we now belong to the same club -- parents who have lost a child,' and he just said 'I want you to call me whenever you need someone to talk to, someone who also knows what you're going through'" Jochum said he told her.

"It touched my heart in ways that only my child has in the past," she said, adding, he, "just genuinely cares about people and wanted to make sure that I knew that he would be there for me if I needed him."

Jochum has known Biden for more than three decades and is an example of one of his longtime ties in the state that he could draw on should he run for president in 2020.

Biden's visit to the early caucus state was brief. He spent fewer than four hours on the ground in Cedar Rapids, a stop designed to help boost several Democratic candidates in the state. Aides to Biden had previously said he would likely avoid making stops in early nominating states like Iowa and New Hampshire to keep the focus on the candidates.

That plan was clearly upended. The trip put him in front of the very voters he would need to court if he launches a run for the White House, and it gave him a chance to preview how he could frame a possible campaign against President Donald Trump.

"My name is Joe Biden and I am here because my friend Abby Finkenauer asked me to be here," he said as he referred to the Democratic candidate in Iowa's First Congressional District.

As he rallied a crowd of a thousand people, Biden largely avoided mentioning Trump by name, but he talked about the need for moral leadership, particularly in the wake of last week's events, including the murder of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

"Three times this past week the forces of hate and terror have descended on the American political scene, going after people for their political belief, the color of their skin or their religion. Folks we need to recognize that words matter," he said.

"America is so much better than this. We are so much better than this. I know that sometimes it feels like these days like anger and hatred and viciousness are overwhelming us," he said. "It's our leaders that need to set the tone and dial down the temperature, restore some dignity to our national dialogue but it's also the American people and each one of us has the power to change the tone of our discourse in our lives."

Biden was in the state campaigning for Finkenauer, a former volunteer coordinator for his 2008 presidential campaign, and the Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell.

"We need more women and men of character like Fred and Abby," Biden said.

"Today more than ever, the American people are desperately -- Democrats and Republicans and independents -- they're looking for people are looking for people with character," he said. "They're looking for authenticity. They're looking for someone who never belittles the other guy, who treats everyone like my dad did with dignity and respect. They're looking for people to tell the truth."

As he made his closing pitch to Iowans, Biden laid out what's at stake in this election.

"The only thing that's strong enough to tear America apart is America itself and we've seen it start and we must make it stop. That's what Tuesday's all about," he said. " We have to make it clear as Democrats. We choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division. We choose allies over enemies. We choose truth over lies. We choose a brighter future over the desperate grip of the darkest elements of our past have on our ankles. And if we do that, we can still own the 21st century."

The former vice president is the latest in a string of potential 2020 candidates to descend on Iowa in the final weeks before the mid-term elections.

Biden, who ran for president in 1988 and 2008, has said he will make a decision about 2020 after the midterm elections, but some supporters in Iowa said they're already eager to see him run.

Daniel Miller, a North Liberty resident who works in the retail industry, donned a vintage Biden presidential campaign shirt he obtained in 2007 at former Sen. Tom Harkin's annual Steak Fry, a nearly 40-year tradition that was a must-stop for Democratic White House hopefuls. Miller, who only wears the shirt on "special occasions," said he is all in for Biden in 2020

"I think we need to be loud, vocal and insistent that Joe Biden be a part of the conversation" in 2020, he said.

Cindi Knox, a brain cancer survivor from Waterloo, approached Biden on the ropeline as she wore a t-shirt reading Biden 2020, with the zeros replaced with grey brain cancer ribbons, on the front and bearing the words "Promise me Joe" on the back, a play on his memoir "Promise Me, Dad." She told him about her battle with brain cancer, the disease which took the life of Biden's son Beau, and handed him a letter urging him to run.

"I asked him to consider what was best for our country, our party, his family and that he would be OK as Beau asked him to promise," Knox said.

But over a year out from the Iowa caucuses, not all Biden fans are convinced just yet that he's the right pick for Democrats heading into 2020.

"I kind of love him using his voice in a more general way. I mean I would definitely vote for him but I like what he's doing now," Chloe Howe, a staffing specialist for a contracting company from Cedar Rapids, said. "I'm just focused on this election, the midterm election and then we can worry about that."

Though she met him early on in 1987, Jochum didn't support Biden in his 1988 or 2008 presidential bids, instead siding with Michael Dukakis and Barack Obama, respectively. But this time around, she says there's a chance Biden could earn her support.

"After listening to him speak again tonight, there's a part of me that says maybe what America needs is Uncle Joe to run," Jochum said. "I don't know though. That's something Joe has to decide what he wants to do."

"He'd be at the top of my list right now," she said. "I always have loved Joe Biden. How can you help but not love Joe Biden?"

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96677

Reported Deaths: 2911
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7143160
DeSoto559460
Harrison388374
Jackson350570
Madison331089
Rankin330679
Lee273670
Forrest248973
Jones248779
Washington225977
Lafayette219139
Lauderdale2059125
Bolivar184566
Oktibbeha179952
Lamar171635
Lowndes158058
Neshoba1579104
Panola149930
Sunflower147146
Leflore141081
Warren140750
Pontotoc127816
Pike124051
Monroe123568
Copiah119133
Scott117627
Coahoma116329
Marshall110617
Lincoln110253
Holmes109859
Grenada109036
Yazoo106230
Simpson104646
Tate100437
Union99824
Leake96038
Adams94137
Wayne90421
Pearl River89253
Marion86535
Prentiss86217
Covington82722
Itawamba82621
Alcorn82011
George78013
Tallahatchie77321
Newton77224
Winston74219
Tishomingo69038
Chickasaw68424
Tippah67117
Attala66725
Walthall60126
Clarke60046
Clay59518
Hancock58722
Jasper57515
Noxubee55116
Smith53415
Calhoun52112
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46420
Yalobusha43514
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38817
Humphreys37715
Quitman3775
Stone37412
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll31912
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2273
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19676351
Mobile13373292
Montgomery8834184
Tuscaloosa8621118
Madison788178
Shelby597849
Lee589760
Baldwin547750
Marshall394343
Calhoun351544
Etowah349045
Morgan329228
Houston290321
Elmore266748
DeKalb241621
St. Clair232235
Walker231684
Talladega216629
Limestone210120
Cullman189920
Dallas179026
Franklin177129
Autauga176425
Russell17603
Lauderdale171333
Colbert164626
Blount161115
Escambia160824
Chilton158530
Jackson157511
Covington140127
Dale138644
Coffee13486
Pike119810
Chambers116442
Tallapoosa116085
Clarke109116
Marion96429
Butler91239
Barbour8827
Winston74412
Marengo72020
Pickens66214
Bibb65410
Lowndes65327
Randolph64713
Hale63528
Geneva6254
Lawrence62023
Cherokee60813
Bullock60414
Monroe5898
Clay5858
Washington55713
Perry5416
Crenshaw53732
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry5055
Macon48018
Fayette4578
Sumter43819
Cleburne3805
Lamar3672
Choctaw34712
Greene30315
Coosa1713
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