US presidential election kicks off Democratic primaries in Iowa

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Let's go to the Iowa caucus which kicks off the Democratic primaries, this Monday, February 3, 2020. Eleven candidates are still in the race to be the one to face Donald Trump in the next presidential election. REUTERS / Brenna Norman

Text by: Anne Corpet Follow

The Democratic primary kicks off this Monday, February 3 in Iowa, a small state in the American Midwest. The caucus winner will receive a significant boost for the rest of the campaign. Eleven candidates are still in the running to be the one to face Donald Trump in the next presidential election. All crisscrossed the state for weeks to campaign.


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From our special correspondent,

Iowa is a " flying over state ", one of those states that we usually fly over, where we don't stop: essentially agricultural, concentrated on the almost exclusive cultivation of corn, it has three million inhabitants, mostly white. But once every four years, during caucuses, Iowa throbs the hearts of the American political world. It feels good to be the center of attention for a few weeks. It happens every four years like the Olympic games , "smiles Mike Traper, who offers in his Desmoines store t-shirts and all kinds of political gadgets, " We are doing good business, probably 25% of people in this store would not be there without the caucus. All the presidential candidates except Joe Biden and Donald Trump came to my shop . ”

Caucuses are also a business opportunity to seize for Iowa which is part of the “fly over states” those states that we fly over and that we do not visit.

anne corpet (@annecorpet) January 31, 2020

Bernie Sanders in the lead

Within the Cedar Rapids theater, in the east of the state, three thousand people flock to attend the biggest meeting of this campaign: that of Bernie Sanders . To be sure to fill up, the veteran of the left wing of the party also convened a rock group from New York in the second part of the evening. "It all starts here in Iowa, " said the Vermont senator to a crowd of colorful signs with his name.

Dressed in a candidate's T-shirt, Dylan Murphy, 25-year-old Irish student, crossed the Atlantic to support Bernie Sanders: “ Bernie will build a global consensus to act on the climate. That’s why I’m here. It's a global world. Everything is connected and everything begins in America so I came to the source, to act, ”explains the young man. On stage, the senator mobilizes his supporters: " This is perhaps the most important election in the history of the United States. If there is a weak mobilization on Monday, we will lose. But if there is a high participation rate we will win! Says Bernie Sanders.

Despite the heart attack he suffered this fall, the senator speaks fiercely and boasts of having sparked the largest mobilization in the history of Iowa caucuses. Our volunteers have knocked on 500,000 doors in the past month! We will win because our movement is the biggest! The already hearty applause intensified when he announced that his first presidential decree would be to legalize marijuana. Bernie Sanders, leading the polls, flatters and galvanizes the youth, but nothing is won: many voters are still undecided and the surveys unreliable.

Read also : Five things to know about the Iowa caucus

Elizabeth Warren goes all out

In a gymnasium at Cedar Rapids, Elizabeth Warren mobilizes her troops. Like Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, the senator was

Iowa Caucus: In a Cedar Rapids gymnasium, Elisabeth Warren mobilizes her troops and ensures that she has "plans" to meet voters' expectations. RFI / Anne Corpet

held back in Washington by the trial of Donald Trump, and is working hard to make up for lost time for the campaign. " It is time to create a wealth tax in America. Families will have the right to universal health coverage for their children. We can invest in public schools! Exclaims the candidate. In the front rows, his supporters wave signs with his name and applaud.

But at the back, many attentive people keep their arms crossed or their hands in their pockets. " We are undecided for the moment, we have come to hear what she has to say and to see her in person, " says Bob, a city resident who skims the meetings with his wife Polly. I like Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are too old, ”she says. On stage, Elizabeth Warren answers questions from the assembly and regularly launches her now famous " I have a plan for that!" ". The senator will not participate this time in the traditional selfie session that she established at the start of her campaign, she must spin off to another electoral rally. But his dog Bailey will gracefully pose in his place alongside his admirers. " The badge with Bailey is the one that leaves the fastest " assures a salesman of promotional items who follows the campaign of Elizabeth Warren.

Yesterday at Desmoines, a badge seller told me that it was the one that sold the fastest.

anne corpet (@annecorpet) February 1, 2020

Joe Biden, the weight of experience

The former vice-president also held a meeting in a gymnasium, but of smaller size, a few kilometers away. Standing in the midst of a few hundred supporters, he virulently attacked the occupant of the White House. " When I look at Donald Trump, what he defends, the way he behaves, the way he talks, what he has done, my answer is always the same: we are better than that. It is not what we are! Says Joe Biden .

Iowa: former president Joe Biden also held a meeting, recalling his experience, his proximity to Barack Obama. RFI / Anne Corpet

He highlights his experience, recalls his proximity to Barack Obama, poses as a unifier, and says he is eager to " heal the wounds of a country torn apart by its divisions ." John Kerry, former Secretary of State for Barack Obama has come to lend him a hand, and in turn addresses the audience, whose average age is quite high. Even if it's cold, you have to travel to participate in the caucus. We can help you with transportation ”announces a volunteer to a lady who is slowly leaving the room. Rodger Sanders, a retiree from Cedar Rapids, leaves convinced by the performance of his candidate. I chose Joe for his experience. He won't necessarily win the first round here in Iowa, but I trust he will succeed and give the White House the seriousness and respect it deserves .

Pete Buttigieg, the rising star of the party

The mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg plays it on the novelty in the village hall of Waterloo, and, at the age of 38, scratches for the first time, his competitors Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, all in their seventies. Each time a candidate from our party won, he was new to the national scene. You need someone young, it is not with an old manual that you can open the doors to the future, ”he says. Karen attended three Pete Buttigieg meetings in Iowa, and she believes it: " Everyone has a chance, that's what Iowa has proven in the past. Here we brought to power candidates whom no one believed in. Pete can win . "

In 1976, Iowa surprised America by choosing Jimmy Carter to wear the colors of the Democratic Party. Thirty years later, the state has pulled out of its hat another candidate that no one had seen coming, Barack Obama.

Standing in the parking lot of the village hall, a woman compels her mobile phone, compares the distances and times of the next meetings. Ann Fissenheim, who lives in Washington State on the West Coast, wants to see all the headliners, a real electoral marathon. " I came to meet the candidates in person, I don't want to rely solely on what we see on TV. I want to see them in the flesh before I decide, and they will not come to my house. Iowa is where you have to be, ”she says. Beside her, Laury Baker, resident of Cedar Rapids, smiles. She relishes the effect of the spotlights that the whole country shines on her usually neglected state.

But Tuesday evening, the huge campaign cars in the colors of the candidates will stop running on the roads that spin straight in the middle of the snowy fields. Desmoines, the capital, will find its usual tranquility. And Iowa will return to its abandoned corn crops, after giving its Olympic boost to one of the candidates who will face Donald Trump next November.

To be continued : Washington from here, the United States seen by French public radio stations

After the caucus, Iowa will return to its corn crops, to its neglected state, after giving an Olympic boost to one of the candidates who will face Donald Trump next November. RFI / Anne Corpet

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  • United States
  • USA elections 2020

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