DIKE — Former Secretary of State John Kerry stopped at the Grundy County Democrats’ Winter Caucus Warm-Up, auctioning off a chocolate pie and stumping for Vice President Joe Biden.
Kerry, who won the Iowa caucuses and the Democratic nomination in 2004, said he had a “very special affection” for the state.
“Iowa listened to me — they didn’t listen to polls, they didn’t listen to the pundits. They made up their own minds after a lot of dutiful listening and questioning and comparative analysis,” Kerry said in an interview after the event. “And now is the time when Iowa moves. So I think there’s a ripeness to being here, and Joe himself — with the debate coming up and the ensuing campaigning — will have a hell of a chance to really shape people’s thinking about this.”
Kerry was traveling around Northeast Iowa this weekend with U.S. Reps. Ami Bera and Luis Correa, both of whom represent districts in California. All three helped the Grundy County Democrats auction off homemade pies, with Kerry announcing he’d match the amount raised for his — which ended up being $360.
And while the event brought in surrogates for several presidential candidates, Kerry — arguably the highest-profile surrogate of the night — warned the crowd of a little more than 100 what was at stake.
“Let’s get real here: Who’s gonna beat Donald Trump?” he asked. “Don’t get caught up in the caucuses as a vehicle to send a message. Send us a president of the United States so we don’t have a circular firing squad in the Democratic primary that plays to Trump’s advantage.”
With U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders leading all contenders in the latest Iowa Poll — as well as leading in the polling average among Iowa Democratic caucusgoers, at 21.3% — Biden, at an average of 17.7%, seems to have ground to make up.
And Sanders’ campaign has been newly attacking Biden’s vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Kerry — who was, like Biden, a senator at the time — said has been mischaracterized.
“I’m not denigrating any other candidate. I haven’t said anything negative about any other candidate, but, you know, where clarification is necessary, I’ve clarified, and I don’t think Joe considered — nor did I — that we were voting for a war,” he said in an interview with The Courier. “We were voting for a process which did not get followed through on.
“So I think it’s important not to have a distortion by any Democrat in the course of the last weeks,” Kerry continued. “We should all be mindful of the fact we have to beat Trump, and everybody’s gotta kind of keep this thing on an even keel.”
Correa said he was stumping for Biden because he watched Hillary Clinton lose 15% of Democratic voters to Trump, and “I don’t want to have that repeated again.
“This man (Biden) can unite us — not just Democrats, but common-sense Republicans as well,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the November election is going to be a referendum on Donald Trump,” Bera agreed. “From our end, who can start healing the country and the damage he has done? And I think it’s Joe Biden.”
Photos of Kerry's stops in the area