Iowa Democrat Jim Larew Discusses a Biden Win and Why Iowa May Not Be the Important Metric it Once Was


Iowa Democrat Jim Larew joined 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. –  Monday morning on the newsmakers line.

During the second hour, Larew explained how he saw Joe Biden’s campaign gain energy and spring to victory in the South Carolina primary which he felt was aided by the endorsement of Representative James Clyburn. Somberly, he added that Iowa may no longer be the indicator as it has been for the last 24 years by referencing Mayor Pete’s bowing out of the race after a victory in the state.

Leahy: On the phone with us is our good friend and ambassador to the Democratic presidential field, Jim Larew. Good morning Jim.

Larew: Good morning Michael.

Leahy: So for you Jim, we were up together in Iowa during the caucuses. And you and our good friend Nancy Zweng and were supporting Joe Biden. It’s been a rough month for Biden supporters on the Democratic side. But that all changed perhaps on Saturday with a huge Joe Biden victory. Tell us what that looks like to you.

Larew: Well, it was in some ways vintage Biden. I think he really does well from the position of the underdog. In Iowa, he was playing the presumptive favorite and I think his campaign lacked in energy. Protecting turf when you think you’re the favorite versus when you think you’re having the fight of your life makes a difference.

I think he was energized. I think he gave the speech of his life at the end of the night. He won big and overcame doubts that maybe his campaign was nearing an end. It was only a few days before that the polls were saying that Bernie Sanders was closing the gap.

Leahy: In South Carolina. I saw those polls. They had Bernie only down by four. But in the end, Jim, I think in South Carolina on Saturday, Joe Biden won with like 48% to 19%. Bernie was in second place. That’s a thumping.

Larew: It was a thumping and it may be that congressman Jim Clyburn has more of an effect in his state than other leaders have in other states. But really you look at the breakout of the vote and Biden did well in what to date has been the most populous state by really capturing the majority in every meaningful demographic that we think about except perhaps the 17-29-year-old group.

This was where Bernie was strongest. One has to admit that. But as to all other segments, this was broader than just a large turnout of the black voted in his favor. Whites, college-educated or not. Men and women both.

It was a broad scale win. And to the extent and that’s a question rather than a fact yet. To the extent, South Carolina demographics predict any future Biden did exceedingly well and it blew some new energy into his campaign.

Leahy: Well, he needed it. The demographics of the South Carolina primary voters are what two thirds black voters? About two thirds?

Larew: It may not be that much but it’s close. It’s a large black vote. No question about it.

Leahy: Very powerful congressman. A black man from South Carolina.Representative James Clyburn. Very very well regarded among Democrats in South Carolina came out a couple of days ago and vigorously endorsed Joe Biden. That had to have helped significantly in that particular primary.

Larew: No question. We’ve seen this happen over the years. Many politicians get a moment like that and rise to the occasion. They capture the moment ins such a way that gives them a launching pad to what is next.

And I thought that is what Biden did spectacularly well in ways that he hasn’t done until now. He captured it saying listen because he nearly was down and out. He says we’re the campaign of the knocked down, counted out, and the left behind. That’s a pretty large group. If we lived a life at all. And he says ok, I’m speaking for you. And that’s a large group.

And he says, we’re looking at Sanders as his main competition. He says we’re not a revolution and we are more than making promises. We want results. A very hard pragmatic look at going forward that I think is going to be meaningful to democrats who look ahead to of course the real challenge ahead for them is Trump.

Not each other in terms of candidacies within the party. I think he really drew lines with respect to Sanders which are going to be meaningful if he gets an opportunity going forward to continue his campaign. He apparently got one million dollars one night in South Carolina.

Leahy: Really? In fundraising. He was really almost out of money, wasn’t he?

Larew: On the ropes.

Leahy: On the ropes!

(Commercial break)

Leahy: We will be broadcasting live from the studios of Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar in downtown Nashville on Broadway. Our all-star panelist Crom  Carmichael, Ben Cunningham, Laura Baigert and our newest all-star panelist Clint Brewer will be down there.

We will have correspondents from around the country reporting to us about their interpretation of results. We’ll start off at 7:30 pm when former congressman Jim Renacci from Ohio will call in talking about the East coast results in Virginia, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.

Then at 8:30 pm, Jim Larew will be calling in. Jim, probably breaking results there will come from the middle of the country like Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, and perhaps you could add some comment there. And then at 9:30 pm our California correspondent, Nancy Zweng also a Joe Biden supporter will be calling in with results from there. We are covering the country! Thanks to you Jim for helping us do that.

Larew: Sure. Well, we will enjoy it. I wish I could be there. It sounds like a pretty good place.  another time maybe.

Leahy: Come on down, we’ll have a blast with you in the studio. So Jim, let’s ask this question now. A great victory in the Democratic primary for Joe Biden. There’s been a long campaign for Biden supporters. And both you and Nancy Zweng are Joe Biden supporters.

It was a rough day for you when you came into the studio in Des Moines the day after the Iowa caucuses. But now I think the next 24 hours or so you should be celebrating that victory. However, I’m looking at the polls here Jim and Super Tuesday, Sanders in California with a big lead.

Texas, Sanders with a decent lead. Virginia, Sanders with a big lead and Biden way behind. Massachusetts, Sanders in the lead, Biden way behind. Colorado and Utah, Sanders leading.  North Carolina is the only Super Tuesday state right now that sees a slender Joe Biden lead.

40% of all of the first ballot delegates are up for grabs on Tuesday. Is South Carolina just a little bit of help temporarily for Joe Biden?  Or is it a harbinger for things to come for his campaign?

Larew: Well that’s the question of the day. 24 hours is an eternity in politics. And I think none of the traditional measures are very helpful. You were in Iowa in November. Mayor Pete in front of the large crowd gathered there. All of the candidates appeared and he proclaimed for himself that he’d had his “Obama moment.”

This meant that Obama in 2008 was doing well in Iowa then became the nominee of the party. Buttigieg won Iowa and for the last 20 years in the Democratic party, the winner of the Iowa caucuses has become the nominee of the party. Mayor Pete bowed out. He’s no longer in it.

And this is just poor contest into the primary election. So the prediction tool we’ve had for more than 24 years is no longer very helpful. I don’t know whether you can slingshot yourself from South Carolina in the Democratic party into victories down the road. There are some tenements to that happening.

One thing is that more than a million votes have already been cast in California and Texas. But, more importantly, lots of people are really urgently pragmatic right now and want a candidate that can win. And the field is shifting. One has a sense at all. What does that mean for Biden?

I think for Super Tuesday a win for him on Super Tuesday is if you take all of the candidates and delegates counts and he stays close to Sanders but doesn’t really expect to be ahead in delegate counts over Sanders. And he has to cross the 15% threshold in states like California and Texas.

Because if you don’t, the way that the delegate selection works in the Democratic party if you don’t get 15%, you’ve got nothing. And other candidates that we’re not talking about today because they really are below the threshold at some point maybe will have their Mayor Pete moment.

You can’t go forward if you don’t have delegates. There are some 1357 delegates that are at stake on Tuesday. So can he keep that delegate count close to Sanders while not projecting that he will beat Sanders who is a very popular candidate with important constituencies in the party?

So that I think has to be his strategy. Thereafter, he may have some shots that are better than that in individual states.  And there may be a coalescing around Biden who has become an expression of a moderate party like traditional liberals.

The 60s liberals I guess as we get older are the parties moderates and may find sanctuary in his campaign as it becomes a two-person race between him and Sanders at the convention in Milwaukee this summer. I don’t know what Bloomberg does, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Listen to the full second hour:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.







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