Democratic Presidential hopefuls flock to the political bellwether state.

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Photos taken for work of U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaking to a crowd of nearly 1,600 students at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, IA on Thursday, January 28, 2016. (photo: Phil Roeder)

Boxing legend Joe Lewis once put it this way:

“Everyone has a plan before they get hit.”

Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson agreed, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” It has long been the sacred hymn of the battle commander that “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”

Contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination for U.S. President may have found this old adage, and it's many applications to full contact sports like politics, to be a modern truism in 2019.

Whatever Democratic candidates might have expected in the race for President, where the lack of a clear Democratic frontrunner has produced a very wide field of contenders, they must be surprised by the continuous twists and turns of this unprecedented pre-campaign/ campaign season.

The weakness of candidate Joe Biden, not to be confused with former Vice President Joe Biden, is throwing the 2020 race to the White House into such disarray, Iowans could hardly keep the candidates strait this weekend.

To stand out, Democratic hopefuls tried everything from swag giveaways of trinkets emblazoned with campaign slogans to cookies- also emblazoned with campaign slogans. Candidates who have published books gave out their books; other candidates gave out lighted or neon placards to highlight the size of their crowds.

The weak front runner was noticeably absent in Iowa. Biden also skipped the Democratic campaign events organized by Democratic movers and shakers in Nancy Pelosi’s California district last weekend.

Forcing other contenders to vie against each other while he absents himself is a strategy that allows Joe Biden to separate himself from the rest of the pack. Whether it is a strategy that will pay off is another matter.

Democratic voters are expecting a higher degree of engagement from political candidates this year; skipping these events at the risk of being lumped in with any old candidate may backfire on Biden.

Biden’s main attraction to voters, his association with former President Barack Obama and the liberal ‘Era of Good Feelings’ that surrounded his administration, seems more and more tenuous as the race heats up.

Biden’s embarrassing ‘friendship bracelet’ post about the Obama-Biden best friendship on National Best Friend’s day hit the internet with a groan recently and went unacknowledged by Democratic darling Obama.

Obama has not endorsed Biden in the race. Though Biden claims this is at his, Biden’s, request, it still seems very odd. If they are so close, why not?

If they are not really that close, why does Biden think his loose association with Barack Obama will be enough to propel him to the Oval Office?

Stacey Abrams, and the prevalent Democratic opinion that the Georgia governor’s race in 2018 was stolen from Abrams by state Republicans and Brian Kemp, was a topic that repeatedly came up over the weekend in Iowa, with Presidential hopefuls like Pete Buttigieg making express references to her ‘stolen election’.

The Georgia governors race was close, but not that close. Nonpartisan groups, and most everyone else, have accepted the results of that election as valid. Undermining confidence in the political process by refusing to accept the results of a legal democratic election is something Democrats have frequently accused Donald Trump of doing. It is also something Democrats have heretofore condemned.

“When you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people’s minds about the legitimacy of our elections, that undermines our democracy. Then you are doing the work of our adversaries for them. Because our democracy depends on people knowing their vote matters.” —former U.S. President Barack Obama

While Democrats hoping to defeat him in 2020 courted voters in Iowa- or didn’t, in the case of Joe Biden- incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump used the weekend, and the campaign advantage of the office he holds, to cement two major wins for his own 2020 campaign for President.

Trump’s strategy of threatening to impose tariffs on Mexico may have borne fruit in the way of help for the U.S. in dealing with the swelling numbers of migrants and asylum seekers overwhelming U.S. Customs and Border Patrol resources- a win for Trump.

President Trump also presided over and/or participated in several high-profile events commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, delivering a stirring speech even Trump’s critics praised, though reluctantly.

Which of the 2020 Democratic contenders will emerge from the pack to challenge the Trump reelection machine?

It is still early in the race to tell. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign seems to be gaining momentum; Beto O’Rourke’s campaign seems to be losing it. Sen. Kamala Harris has been successfully defending her record as a prosecutor and Mayor Pete Buttigieg is climbing in the polls.

Whatever the results of the Democratic primary, the election of 2020 is sure to be a history making, record breaking clash between sparring conservative and progressive forces in the U.S.

Two opposed forces that are deeply engaged in a tug-of-war on a variety of hot-button social and cultural issues like gun control and abortion access.

The standard bearer for the Democratic Party, whoever he or she may be, will have their work cut out for them.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell”

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