Looming Trump Impeachment Trial Adds Urgency To Senators' Campaign Push The four senators running for president will mostly be off the campaign trail in the final days before Iowa votes. They'll work around the impeachment trial with Skype, surrogates and red-eye flights.
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Looming Impeachment Trial Adds Urgency To Senators' Campaign Push

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Looming Impeachment Trial Adds Urgency To Senators' Campaign Push

Looming Impeachment Trial Adds Urgency To Senators' Campaign Push

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NOEL KING, HOST:

The four senators running for president will be otherwise occupied for the next few weeks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: Now, all of you are aware that my schedule has kind of changed a bit.

KING: That's Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire over the weekend. He and the other senators will be stuck in Washington six days a week because they are serving as jurors in the impeachment trial of President Trump. They won't be able to campaign, so what are they going to do? NPR's Scott Detrow has some answers.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Every four years, the snow and weather add an extra challenge to those final weeks of campaigning in Iowa.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELIZABETH WARREN: Good to see you all. Boy, I know I'm here with the brave, the tough, the ones who take on the snow. So it is great...

DETROW: Snow and ice blanketed Iowa and, later, New Hampshire this weekend. But Elizabeth Warren and the other senators running for president pressed forward, not knowing when they'll be back. Most people at events this weekend said they don't think it will be a problem that the candidates they're backing are tied up with impeachment. Before that town hall in Newton, Warren supporter Lynn Muhs pointed out the campaign's been going on for a year.

LYNN MUHS: If you haven't seen them now, you know, it's kind of crazy. So I think that the fact that they're not going to be out doing this is fine. They're back in Washington doing what we need them to do.

DETROW: The candidates are following this lead, or at least that's what they say. They're talking up their constitutional duty. And Amy Klobuchar told the crowd in Coralville that she's not especially worried.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMY KLOBUCHAR: I'm a mom, and I can balance things really well.

DETROW: Bernie Sanders was in New Hampshire this weekend; so was Michael Bennet. Sanders has already scheduled a Wednesday night rally in Iowa. He'll fly to the state after the day's trial session and then back to Washington the next morning. Klobuchar's campaign doesn't have as much money as Sanders', so she's going to have to be a bit more creative.

KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, I guess I'll have to do it over Skype. We will find a way.

DETROW: She and the other senators will all rely heavily on surrogates, too. It's been clear for months that this scheduling conflict was coming, so Klobuchar sped up her schedule for hitting every single Iowa county.

KLOBUCHAR: Part of this is I'm just cramming everything I can do into every waking hour, which is why, by the way, in December, we did those 27 counties in, like, 3 1/2 days. Two of the days, we did 10 counties each...

DETROW: Especially among the Democratic base, no one seems to be holding the impeachment commitments against the senators, but there still could be a cost, especially for Klobuchar, who's trying to gain ground. Just after signing a card committing to caucus for Klobuchar, Tim Behlke said he was worried.

TIM BEHLKE: To not be able to get out there and meet more people to support her views and causes, I can't see how that wouldn't hurt someone.

DETROW: Like so many Democrats, Behlke is deciding based on who he thinks could beat Trump in the Electoral College. But so many Democrats are so worried about a second Trump term that they're hesitating to commit to a candidate. Polls show a lot of people in Iowa could still change their mind and are still looking to be convinced in the final days. The mood is best summed up by this exchange with Renee Kleinpeter, who was waiting to see Warren in Newton.

Who's it down to for you?

RENEE KLEINPETER: (Laughter).

DETROW: She just wants some reassurance.

KLEINPETER: I'll go with anybody who can beat Trump. I wish somebody would tell me. (Laughter).

DETROW: But in between now and caucus night, the senators in the race won't have as many chances to make that argument for themselves in person. Scott Detrow, NPR News, Des Moines.

(SOUNDBITE OF KARL HECTOR AND THE MALCOUNS' "KAIFA PART 1 AND 2")

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