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The Nation - February 1, 2020

“We’re asking a lot of people,” she admitted, as dozens of volunteers and a few newcomers crowded around Turner and Jayapal to take selfies Friday afternoon. “What makes it work is that these volunteers see themselves as part of a movement. They’re excited about Bernie Sanders, but they’re also excited about the people who have worked with Bernie..."

*Clive, Iowa—*Justin Vernon, the Grammy Award–winning singer and songwriter behind the enormously popular indie group Bon Iver, paused toward the end of his Friday night set in this Des Moines suburb to talk politics.

“There’s only a few opportunities come around in a lifetime to change the course of history towards human beings,” he said. Vernon paused, and then he delivered the applause line, “Who knew Iowa would have that chance? That’s all I’m saying.”

Vernon did not even have to mention the candidate he had come to support. The crowd of 2,500 Bernie Sanders supporters erupted in applause at the event, which concluded less than 72 hours before the starting time for the Iowa caucuses.

Then, answering the enthusiasm of the young voters whose support will be essential for Sanders in the caucuses where many polls suggest he is ahead, Vernon launched into a poignant rendition of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

Sanders was stuck in Washington Friday night, as the impeachment trial of the president he hopes to replace wound down. The senator, who would not make it back onto the Iowa campaign trail until Saturday, called in and delivered well-received remarks. But the crowd in Clive did not seem to mind his absence. Bands and speakers like filmmaker Michael Moore, Jane Sanders, and Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib were more than enough to keep the overwhelmingly young audience engaged until Vernon started playing.

“You get education and entertainment. It’s a hard-to-beat night,” said Holly Olson, a 23-year-old college student from Madrid, Iowa. “It gets everyone excited to caucus on Monday.”

For Sanders aides, the news that their candidate would be in Washington for most of the final week before the caucuses could have been a blow to a grassroots campaign that has leaned heavily on the candidate’s appearances to keep interest and energy high across Iowa.

At the critical final stage, the campaign needed star power to attract more newcomers to events where they are taught how to caucus and to maintain volunteer enthusiasm at the almost two dozen field offices where they are working long shifts as the caucuses approach. So Pete D’Alessandro, a longtime Iowa political operative and Sanders campaign adviser, recalls, “We said, ‘We want surrogates, the members of Congress, the musicians. We can make this work.’”

And so they have. Across Iowa in the final week before the caucuses, the Sanders campaign has maintained a busy schedule of events that have drawn thousands of activists to rallies, town hall meetings, and concerts featuring Bon Iver, Portugal the Man, and Vampire Weekend. No corner of Iowa has been left behind.

The campaign has sent Congressional Progressive Caucus cochair Mark Pocan to the working-class town of Clinton and Congressional Progressive Caucus cochair Jayapal to Greenfield in rural Adair County. In Greenfield, a community of 1,982, Jayapal drew a crowd of more than 100. ...
Read full report at The Nation