House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s delay in sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate for President Donald Trump’s trial is a clever political move — but not against Republicans.
Pelosi is helping former Vice President Joe Biden — the establishment favorite — lock-up the Democratic presidential nomination at the expense of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-V.T.
That’s according to House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who said Pelosi’s delay will help Biden in the key early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where polling shows he’s neck-in-neck with Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
“The House minority leader’s theory is that by delaying the start of the Senate trial, Pelosi will effectively bench two of Biden’s most formidable rivals – Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – during the run-up to the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 and the New Hampshire primary that follows on Feb. 11,” Fox News reported. “That could give the former VP a much-needed boost.”
Just weeks ahead of the first primary vote, the very hint that Pelosi is gaming the system against Sanders could anger his core supporters, experts warned. Sanders’ so-called “Bernie Bros” felt the Democratic National Committee rigged the 2016 primary in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Presidential candidates have swarmed Iowa’s rolling landscape, making their pitch to potential supporters on campuses, county fairgrounds, and in high school gymnasiums. But three weeks before the caucuses usher in the Democratic contest, the battle for the state remains wide open.
For two decades, Iowa has had a solid record of backing the ultimate Democratic nominee. A clear victory in its caucuses next month could set the tone for the races that follow in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.
But an inconclusive result or one in which several candidates are bunched together near the top could preview a long, brutal fight ahead. Some Democrats fear the question of a nominee might not be resolved until the party convenes in Milwaukee this summer to formally declare its candidate to take on President Donald Trump.
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The former vice president began as the early favorite, in large part because of a sense that he is best positioned to defeat Trump. If that falters, the central rationale for his campaign risks being undermined.
Biden faces a far more favorable climate in later contests, especially South Carolina, where support from black voters has given him a substantial lead over his rivals.
And the focus on global affairs after the Iranian conflict could lift Biden, who built a resume over decades in Washington as a leading voice on foreign policy. JoAnn Hardy, chair of the Cerro Gordo County Democrats in northern Iowa, said a shift in voter focus would be an advantage.
But even that prediction came with a caveat.
“I think there’s a lot of support, but for most people it’s not enthusiastic support,” Hardy said. “It’s like, we’ve gotta do what we’ve gotta do to beat Trump.”
While Biden is positioning himself as a steady hand in the face of international instability, the Iranian episode also leaves an opening for Sanders to draw a sharp contrast with Biden over the Iraq War, which Sanders opposed. The Vermont senator is drawing sharper contrasts with Biden as he tries to appeal to some of the white, working-class voters, particularly in rural areas, that Sanders’ advisers believe may be open to his message of taking on the rich and powerful.
Without naming him, Sanders kept pressure on Biden Sunday, reminding a forum in Davenport that he opposed the 2002 authorization for military force in Iraq.
“In 2002, I helped lead the effort against the war in Iraq, which turned out to be the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of America,” Sanders said. “The war in Iraq was based on a series of lies.”
Sanders’ position in Iowa is improving and he’s attracting large crowds. His campaign says he spoke to nearly 6,000 people across 16 events in the state earlier this month.
If he were suddenly pulled off the campaign trail just weeks ahead of the caucus, that could change to benefit Biden.
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“McCarthy’s theory makes sense of an otherwise senseless and increasingly unpopular maneuver by Pelosi,” Fox News reported Monday. “Holding up delivery of the articles of impeachment that were voted on in the House has won no concessions from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It has only delayed the proceedings and caused many to wonder about the seriousness of the impeachment effort.”
Pelosi’s delay is an effort to help her party in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. A far-left candidate like Sanders could face a resounding defeat like Walter Mondale against former President Ronald Reagan in 1980.
But the move also risks alienating Sanders supporters — and that could also be just the bump Trump needs to secure re-election.
The Associated Press contributed to this article