A disturbing piece published Friday in The Nation claimed the Biden campaign ignored its own protocols for traveling in winter weather in order to boost its chances in Iowa, according to text messages.
The messages reported by The Nation paint a disturbing picture of a campaign willing to do anything in order to improve its candidate’s showing in first-vote-in-the-nation Iowa, where Biden has long been considered a long shot to win the most votes in the Feb. 3 caucuses.
However, Iowa caucuses are brutal, with strange rules that favor a hyper-targeted ground-game operation where ignoring a few key 5,000-population towns could spell doom.
This is an election where you can go from worst to first and back to worst in the blink of an eye, which means that campaigns can’t take a moment off. It’s probably wise to cool it down a bit, though, when a winter storm blankets the state.
Alas, that’s where the Biden operation was apparently looking for an edge. While other candidacies aren’t going to send their volunteers and low-paid employees and volunteers out in the white stuff, Biden’s campaign was going to have its people literally being threatened by campaign grandees who demand staffers hit the road no matter what may be covering said road.
The campaign originally had a policy of allowing staffers “to avoid driving during potentially hazardous weather conditions,” The Nation reported, but as the caucuses grew closer, that was apparently too much of a luxury.
“Hey guys, all weather policy is dissolved throughout the entire state because we have five weeks left until the election,” Biden regional organizing director Kay Glad wrote in a text on Dec. 30, as the state was covered in snow.
“If it feels like unsafe driving conditions, then talk to me separately but quite frankly I don’t want to hear any complaints because you know how important this is and how much time we have left.””
And remember, risking your life shows leadership!
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“By showing an ability to be adaptable, flexible, and willing to what [sic] you’ve been hired to do, then that is the most basic threshold of demonstrating your ability of leading others. Every single day is an audition for post-Iowa,” Glad wrote in another text.
I mean, provided you’re alive post-Iowa, sure.
According to The Nation, the text messages were provided anonymously by a staffer on Biden’s campaign who also said that five Biden staffers had gotten into car accidents in Iowa during the period between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.
There was also an additional fear among staffers due to the fact that a campaign worker for Elizabeth Warren had died in September, in a crash reported by the Des Moines Register.
I’d just as soon as not mention this, but I feel that I have to: Biden also lost his first wife and a daughter in an automobile accident in the immediate wake of his first Senate election back in 1972. The accident has informed much of his campaign rhetoric over the years and has also given rise to controversy due to the fact that, among other things, he has accused (without evidence) the semi-truck operator who was involved in the accident of driving drunk when no evidence exists of that fact.
As for the current issue, Biden’s campaign tried to pass it off as a rogue director.
“Responding to a request for comment, a Biden campaign official confirmed that Glad had suspended the weather policy, but said she had acted unilaterally and was subsequently reprimanded and her team was given proper guidance,” The Nation reported.
“Our campaign’s most important asset is the staff working tirelessly around the country to help Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump and restore the soul of our nation,” Julie Kriger, Biden’s Iowa communications director, told The Nation. “That’s why we always prioritize their safety and well-being and have put in place policies both in Iowa and nationally to ensure that they remain safe in hazardous weather conditions.”
One other candidate issued a similar statement: “Extreme weather conditions have previously resulted in the campaign having staffers work from home,” a representative for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar told The Nation.
“When inclement weather causes hazardous conditions, we make it a point for members of the campaign to consider personal safety first when evaluating their ability to report to work.”
The report comes as Biden continues to trail in Iowa.
Biden was a distant fourth as of December. He is now in a distant third, though his promotion had less to do with the fact that he was making a move up the rail so much as Elizabeth Warren’s campaign was beginning its slow implosion.
He is trailing Vermont Sen./oatmeal spokesman Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
It’s not clear how much the Biden campaign can expect to see improved polls from its staff’s willingness to engage in dangerous driving practices. It’s also not clear how much good will it could lose because of a report that claims its bosses expect staffers to risk their lives to get him elected.
If you want a guess, a) not much and b) far more than that kind of encouragement could ever be worth.
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