Biden Bets on Iowa to Boost Candidacy
Monday, September 3, 2007; 6:25 AM
DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, behind in polls and campaign money, is betting the farm on Iowa's leadoff caucuses, hoping a strong showing will rocket him to the top of the field.
If not, Biden admits he'll be an early footnote in the race for his party's nomination.
"I'm counting on Iowa a lot," Biden said in an interview with The Associated Press. "My expectation is that I come in first, second or an indistinguishable third. To tell you the truth, if I don't, then this has been a nice exercise and I'll see you again when you come to visit Washington."
Biden, 64, brings a blue-chip resume to his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. He's represented Delaware in the Senate since 1972, and as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he's in the middle of the debate over the Iraq war. Most polls show that's the top issue with voters, and Biden has been an early and persistent critic of Bush's policy _ a strong selling point with overwhelmingly anti-war Democratic activists.
Still, Biden is at the back of the pack in polls nationally and in Iowa.
In response, he's campaigned in the state for much of August, spent heavily on television commercials highlighting his stance on Iraq and announced plans to expand his Iowa staff.
"We're gaining some traction here," Biden said. "We're bringing the real first team."
That support has yet to be reflected in any polling, and in the interview, Biden acknowledged the hurdles he faces. But he said he senses an opening that could vault him past the current front-runners.
"At the end of the day, I'm a tactile politician and I trust my feel, and I'm telling you I think there's some pace on the ball," Biden said. "I'm not trying to make this a groundswell, but there's something there that's genuine."
Others aren't convinced.
University of Iowa political science professor Bruce Gronbeck said Biden has a habit of talking his way into trouble.
"I don't think he's showing much traction," Gronbeck said. "There's a sense he's something of a loose cannon."