- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 1, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa — On the hunt for voters, Julia Caldwell fiddled with the broken call box here outside a gated three-story brick apartment complex and joked about her next move.

“If I break-and-enter you are going to think I am a crazy Bernie person,” she said with a laugh.

The 29-year-old was among a slew of die-hard volunteers from across the country that scattered out across Iowa’s capital city on a warmer-than-typical day here to knock on doors as part of Sen. Bernard Sanders‘ final get out the vote efforts before the iconic caucuses.

“It feels like he can actually win — it is insane,” Ms. Caldwell, who made the trip from New York with her boyfriend, said. “That is what I think makes it different from last time when it seemed more far-fetched.”

Indeed, there is a sense here in Iowa that Mr. Sanders could be on the verge of wrapping up some unfinished business from 2016 when he fell a hair shy of defeating Hillary Clinton in the caucuses.

The stakes are high in Iowa for the entire field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders when voters turn out at their local precincts on Monday to cast their support behind their favorite candidates and try to convince their neighbors to join them.

The results will set the tone for the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary and could signal the beginning of the end for candidates that fail to meet expectations.

With that as a backdrop, Mr. Sanders and the three candidates closest to him in the polls - former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren - are set to deliver their closing arguments at a series of campaign events over the weekend.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former non-profit executive Andrew Yang and billionaire Tom Steyer, are also campaigning here, looking to leave a strong last impression.

The candidates, and in some cases some of their outside allies, also are pounding the television airwaves with campaign ads, and are deploying high-profile surrogates across the state.

While volunteers swarmed the neighborhoods here around Drake University, Mr. Sanders was about 30 miles away at Simpson College in Indianola campaigning with his wife, Jane, and Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

A series of recent polls, meanwhile, suggest Mr. Sanders could be peaking at the right time.

The Des Moines Register is scheduled to release the final pre-caucus survey Saturday night.

Mr. Sanders also has raised more money than his rivals, underscoring the wide breadth of his support, and feeding into the sense that momentum is on his side.

That was on display here early Monday morning inside the Sanders campaign, which was buzzing with action.

Staffers and volunteers hustled around the office space, and volunteers, most of them young, streamed in from across the country - including Washington, D.C., Albuquerque and San Francisco - to lend a hand.

They were led past a table stacked with “Bernie Beats Trump” stickers, campaign flyers and hand warmers, as well as a box of blue Bernie frisbees, and into an adjacent room, where they were asked to share with the rest of the group their names, their preferred pronouns, where they were from and why they were backing Mr. Sanders.

As they went around the room, volunteers said they were there to push for “universal health care,” to redistribute wealth and to fight for the “future of the Earth,” and described Mr. Sanders as a “once in a lifetime candidate.”

The walls were decorated with pro-Sanders posters that read: “My Son Says He is A Super Hero,” “Health Care is a Human Right,” and “He’s the Genuine Article.”

Ja’Mal Green, a national Sanders surrogate, delivered a quick pep talk, praising the volunteers for doing the hard work, and casting the primary race as a battle against the “powers that be” on Wall Street and the Republican and Democratic parties that are “doing everything to stop this movement.”

“We know that this fight is hard, but we know if we out-organize and doorknock, we call and share, we do everything that we can, we can win this war,” Mr. Green said. “Right now it is our opportunity to lay the progressive future that we want for the next generation.”

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