In a special interview, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Michael Patrick Leahy spoke with good friend and Iowa attorney Jim Larew about the current front runners in the 2020 Democratic presidential race.
During the show, Larew described the current feeling on the ground in Iowa and commented that the recent Warren and Sanders issue had not done either of them any favors with voters. Adding to that, he mentioned that as Buttigieg seemed to see a downward turn as Biden still maintained the lead among the older population.
Leahy: And on the line with us now a true friend. Someone who we can call at 6:05 in the morning and tell them you’re on the air and he’ll say, “Oh really? Yes, I can wing it.” Jim Larew. (Larew chuckles) Good morning Jim.
Larew: Well good morning. Of course in Iowa, it’s politics all the time. 24/7, 365 so we’re never caught off guard too much.
Leahy: Two weeks from today if all goes well I will be up there and I’ll be in Iowa. I’ll be broadcasting two weeks from today from the studios of WHO radio in Des Moines. The first home of Ronald Reagan on the air. They’re in a different building now. So two weeks from tonight the Iowa caucuses will be held in about 1600 locations around the state.
You’ll be at yours in Iowa City. And then there will be some results. Actually two weeks from yesterday, and then two weeks from today we’ll have the results and I’ll be again broadcasting from WHO. I think if all goes well you may be in the studio with me in Des Moines then if you’re awake.
Larew: I look forward to that. We’ll be awake. We’ll be coming over from Iowa City and I’ll be at my caucus precinct four, Iowa City, Iowa. Johnson county. And after that’s over, come over to Des Moines. And it will be an interesting thing here in Des Moines as the results come in.
More journalists than Democrats. (Leahy laughs) In fact, they have a special plane that’s been chartered to go from here to New Hampshire as soon as the results are in so they can start campaigning in the next state.
Leahy: Is that bad for Iowa to have more journalists than Democrats in the state? I think it is. (Chuckles)
Larew: I don’t know. The winner will be very pleased because it will broadcast quite a message to the rest of the world as to what’s going on.
Leahy: Little curveball here. So the Senate is beginning today with the impeachment trial. I think all of the senators have to be sitting in their seats in Washington, D.C. Six days a week and will only have one day a week to go out and campaign.
In Iowa, do you see that having any impact on the campaigns of Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren or Senator Amy Klobuchar? And I guess Senator Michael Bennett who is still in the race? Not that he has a presence there. Will that have an impact?
Larew: You know, I sort of doubt it to the extent that a lot of the campaign now is consists of volunteers going door to door. The literature is printed. Lots of television commercials are on the air. The actual physical presence of the candidate right now, I’m not sure will make or break any of the campaigns.
And I don’t think the presence of a candidate here will give them an undue advantage. A lot of people are still making up their minds. But I think a lot of those minds are made up as they are watching a larger world. Whether it’s the foreign policy if the extent that’s on their minds, it moves towards Biden’s favor I think.
To the extent that domestic matters are there. Other candidates may have some advantages. So I don’t know that it’s critical. It’s uncharted territory. The event itself of impeachment for our nation’s history so I think that’s on everyone’s mind. It’s a sober time and a reflective time, rather than a moment that gives one candidate a specific advantage.
Leahy: Big news of course. The New York Times endorsed both, I don’t know how they do this, endorsed both Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. Two questions. First one. Have you ever heard of such a two-person endorsement? And two, does anybody in Iowa care?
Larew: As a matter of endorsements by newspapers I think they were a big deal a half a century ago. You can feel public opinion shift in response. Not so much lately and not so much The New York Times. But if you are one of those two candidates you would consider it to be a big deal. Klobuchar has some movement.
Such as the case that we can point to John Kerry in Iowa most recently. John Edwards before that. And also on the Republican side where the last two weeks are important and people come out from nowhere. But where it goes from there I don’t know. Rick Santorum came out of nowhere and won Iowa and then he disappeared.
Leahy: Yeah, I remember that.
Leahy: Jim, what’s going on in momentum out there? I’m getting the feeling, but perhaps I’m wrong here, you are on the ground. I’m getting the feeling that perhaps Pete Buttigieg has peaked. Am I feeling that right? Or is he still a threat?
Larew: I think he’s going to do well to the extent that you take him where he started as a mayor of the fourth largest town in Indiana with no prior experience. He’s doing very well and has an excellent organization. And organization matters in a caucus state. But I think it’s also true that he peaked at a time when there was a lot of fluidity in the electorate in terms of trying to make decisions.
And I think he has declined in the support whether he can translate that into a strong showing because of the strength of his organization. Which is really terrifically well done is the question. Others like Biden who really hasn’t been as strongly organized. It’s sort of his trademark in his third time out. He does better in other things.
Leahy: Unorganized every time, but still at the top? Or near the top?
Larew: Well, he’s extremely popular and has components to his candidacy. Compassion, wisdom, and things that people admire.
Leahy: Our listeners when you say that are rolling their eyes. You know that Jim?
Larew: That’s alright. That’s one of the reasons I’m here. We’re broadening each other’s audience.
Leahy: Yes! (Laughs)
Larew: And I think that he is doing well. People are coming who are undecided and on his without the showing organization at the same time Iowa has one of the oldest populations in the country. And older people gravitate towards Biden. And they’re awful trustworthy.
They come to a caucus whether they are told to or not. So he may have a bump that way. Others, it will be interesting to see. I don’t think that the Bernie kerfuffle with Elizabeth Warren in the last debate which was held in Iowa did either of their campaigns really any good.
Leahy: Yeah. By the way, let me just follow up on that. It seemed to me that it was all a concocted story. It looks to me to be just conveniently coordinated between CNN and Elizabeth Warren to create this incident where only she and he were present in 2018. And she said he said a woman couldn’t be president.
And he denied that. She confronted him off-mic saying, did you just call me a liar on national tv? And he kind of deflected that. I get the feeling that it didn’t help either of them. So you are saying that’s what you’re seeing on the ground?
Larew: I think so amongst each of their respected groups or followers that galvanize them the way people do in a fight they’re cheering for their own side. But for the large swath of people who are undecided, I don’t think it did either of them any good. And more recently as part of the celebrations yesterday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there were photographs of them walking around Iowa.
I think that’s Democrats wanting them to be. The differences between candidates are marginal and between the two parties. I think on the whole the campaigns keeping matters at a high level. Not battling at a personality level. That was really pretty unseemly to…
Leahy: Yeah. It looked to me like it was a strategy from the Warren campaign to go after Bernie to somehow kind of create more sympathy for her among women. That’s what it looked like to me.
Larew: If that’s the case, I don’t think it played out the way that she would have hoped. And one really doesn’t know. But I don’t think it was something that helped. It probably didn’t injure the campaign greatly but it certainly didn’t give it a boost that I can see. Sometimes those things backfire.
Leahy: Speaking of things that may not help. I’m going to ask you a question about a book that you may not be familiar with. But on the right it’s explosive. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Peter Schweizer. Peter Schweizer is a senior editor at Breitbart News and is the President of the Government Accounting Institute.
He’s done a series of books. Clinton Cash was one of his books that came out and outlined the influence-peddling on the Clinton Foundation. So his new book coming out today is “Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite,” which focuses on Joe Biden and a couple of others.
But mostly on Joe Biden, there’s a story in there that Frank Biden, the youngest son of former Vice President Joe Biden whose business interests benefitted by American taxpayers loans to Caribbean nations during the Obama years. Have you seen that book? Are you familiar with any of those claims Jim?
Larew: I’ve not read the book. Not sure that I will. I can imagine he’ll do a book tour at the Trump properties. (Leahy laughs) and events there. And if you are on our side of the line we see it as a common tactic that where Trump feels he’s weak and projects that on to the opponent.
If he’s going to make this a campaign of corruption of the Bidens I don’t know. I would hope for the nation’s sake that we could talk about policies that matter. That makes all of this better, particularly for the middle class. That’s really what we ought to be talking about.
Listen to the second hour:
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