In the early state where field organization has traditionally mattered the most, Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have quietly and patiently concentrated their resources toward building grassroots machines designed to power them on caucus night.
It showed here on Sunday as 19 Democratic presidential candidates converged for the first time in one venue to make their five-minute pitch to the party faithful. The gathering, designed to honor Iowa Democrats in a Hall of Fame dinner, offered the first glimpse of a sprawling Democratic primary field — and the organizational strength and enthusiasm each campaign could muster.
Booker and Warren weren’t the only presidential hopefuls to stand out. The senator from next door in Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar, also put on a show of force both inside and outside the Cedar Rapids Doubletree Hilton Hotel, where the dinner took place.
But Booker was among the first candidates to ramp up early in Iowa and it enabled him to flex his muscles Sunday, one day after a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom survey of likely Iowa caucusgoers placed him at just one percent in the crowded field.
When Booker took the stage before the 1,400-person crowd, dozens of supporters rose to their feet and lifted “Cory Booker 2020” signs that lit up in the dark.