MARION, Iowa Former Vice President Joe Bidens closing argument in Iowa is the same as his opening one: Im your best hope to beat President Trump.
As he traversed the eastern part of the first state to cast votes in the Democratic primary, Biden is largely ignoring Democratic competitors even those polling ahead of him in Iowa in favor of pitching his ability to defeat the president.
The next president is going to have to be ready on day one, he said at a town hall attended by a few hundred people here at the Prairie Hill Pavilion on Monday afternoon. Theres no time for on the job training.
The character of the nation is literally going to be on the ballot this time around, he said earlier at a town hall in Cedar Falls.
That message, it turns out, appears to be predominantly why Iowa voters are turning out for his events, even if he isnt their top choice.
Theres any number of candidates, none of them is perfect but which one is best and who can beat Donald Trump? Thats all we really care about.
Theres any number of candidates, none of them is perfect but which one is best and who can beat Donald Trump? Thats all we really care about, said undecided voter Mike Barron, 72, who drove from Iowa City with his wife Kay to see Biden in Marion.
David Haugebak, 69, who attended the Cedar Falls event with his wife Karolyn, deadpanned when asked about his top issue: Not Biden. Trump.
It would be a disaster, like they said, if there was another term and so we want to get a Democrat in there and seems like hes got the experience and like he said, knows how to fix it, he said.
The overwhelming sentiment from Democratic voters that VICE News spoke with echoed a singular focus: they want Trump out.
Every time the name Donald Trump came out of his mouth or the subject, everybody was murmuring, Anything is better, said Jody Murphy, 49, who lives and works in Marion.
Murphy described herself as a strong Biden supporter because he is the best candidate to win and unite the country.
Shes not worried about the attacks that Biden has sustained in recent months from President Trump, who regularly criticizes both the former vice president and his son Hunter.
Actually, I think it puts more of an emphasis on Biden and so, like I heard before, Biden is renting out space in Trumps head, Murphy said. I really believe it might benefit Biden more and hey, it is free advertising!
Barron expressed more trepidation about the constant attacks that Biden is facing, most recently in Trumps impeachment trial when his defense argued there was something worth looking into about Hunter Bidens work for Ukrainian pipeline company Burisma.
I do worry about it, Barron told VICE News as he stood towards the back of the room. Common sense tells you that hes [Trumps] certainly going to pump up his own base with this thought and hopefully expand his base with that.
Kay, who describes herself as not a super liberal Bernie supporter, feels Biden would be exonerated in the Senate trial if witnesses were allowed.
If the Senate will let there be witnesses then I think that would go a long way towards maybe convincing a lot of people that this is, theres nothing to this as far as the Bidens are concerned.
Nathan Jones, a 23-year-old music student at University of Northern Iowa, says hes undecided but will likely caucus for Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Biden is probably his second or third choice.
Jones says that when it comes to the general election, he is most concerned about beating Trump, but in the primary phase he still wants to hear candidate plans on healthcare, college affordability, education plans, and military funding.
I was looking for things to maybe sway me one way or another away from another of those candidates, he told VICE News, adding that hes still leaning towards Buttigieg.
Biden and Buttigieg are in the same boat right now: theyre plowing ahead on the campaign trail while Senators Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar, and Bennet are stuck in D.C. for the duration of the Senate impeachment trial of Trump.
Jones says they for sure have an advantage right now in the state.
Its simple science of how many voters they can reach, how many hands you can shake, how many people you can speak to, he said of a state that takes their role quite seriously.
Karolyn Haugebak, 69, told VICE News she likes Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of several candidates who have been sidelined by impeachment, but ultimately doesnt ultimately think Klobuchar could beat Trump in a general election.
Can I be honest? No, but its kind of a woman thing. I would love to see a woman be president. In the end Im hoping Biden gets the nomination and I hope Klobuchar gets the VP.
Cover: Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, takes a selfie photograph with an attendee during a campaign event in Cedar Falls, Iowa, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. (Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)