While former Vice President Joe Biden is leading national polls for the Democrat presidential nomination, his numbers don’t look nearly as good in Iowa, where on February 3rd Democrats will caucus in the first contest of the 2020 campaign. According to the polling average at RealClearPolitics, Biden is currently running a close third behind Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.
Now, according to The Hill, Biden thinks he’s found the answer to put him over the top in Iowa: gun control.
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is focusing on the issue of gun control and school shootings in a new series of digital ads with the Iowa caucuses less than a month away.
One of the ads, “Classroom,” features Denison, Iowa, teacher Jane Lyons, who talks about how she prepares her fourth-grade students for the possibility of a mass shooting.
“This is not something an educator should have to be talking about,” Lyons says in the long version of the ad. “I shouldn’t have to do this. When I found out that Joe Biden was going to run for president, I was excited, because I trust Joe Biden with gun issues.”
The other ad in the series, “Troubled Soul,” highlights a clip of speech Biden gave in which he criticizes the fact that children in America have to be taught how to “duck and cover” at school.
The ads are long on rhetoric and short on any actual policies, in part because there’s little difference between Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren when it comes to gun control. Virtually all of them support banning modern sporting rifles and “high capacity magazines,” expanding background checks, enacting red flag laws, and various and sundry other gun proposals. Perhaps the biggest difference between the candidates is that some of them are calling for a national gun licensing system, while candidates like Biden want to empower states to enact restrictive licensing regimes instead. Even Buzzfeed was forced to acknowledge Biden’s plans don’t really stand out from those offered by other candidates.
In the gun plan he released last year, Biden called for, among other things, a new assault weapons ban — the one he pushed in the ‘90s expired in 2004 — and for enhanced background checks. There are few substantive differences among the candidates when it comes to gun control, but with the departure of Beto O’Rourke, who centered the final months of his candidacy on aggressive gun control measures, Biden is one of few candidates positioned to make it a signature issue in Iowa. A poll ordered by the Giffords group last fall found that 59% of uncommitted Democratic primary voters considered guns a top priority.
“I think we are facing a different landscape for gun safety today than we were in 2013,” Stef Feldman, the Biden campaign’s policy director, said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “I think the sentiment around the country has grown with respect for more gun laws.”
So we’re told, though I don’t know how much time Stef Feldman has spent in any Second Amendment Sanctuary communities lately.
You might be wondering what Michael Bloomberg’s campaign is up to in Iowa, given the fact that he’s the biggest gun control name in the race at the moment. According to another report by The Hill, Bloomberg has only spent about $70,000 on advertising in the state. Caucus attendees will have the option of voting for him, but his campaign isn’t putting a lot of resources in the state, and he won’t even be on the ballot in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Instead, he’s eyeing Super Tuesday on March 3rd, and is spending tens of millions of dollars in states like Texas, California, and Florida in hopes of winning the delegate rich states.