This Independence Day, President Trump will have his tanks, fighter jet flyovers, and red carpet at the Lincoln Memorial. The Democrats vying to unseat him will, in several cases, be having barbecue.
Many of the two dozen Democrats running for president plan to celebrate the birth of American democracy with some good old-fashioned retail politics, pressing flesh along small-town parade routes, and pitching themselves at cookouts and ice cream socials. Multiple babies will probably be kissed.
It’s a sign of how much candidates believe these events matter still — at least those events in the early Iowa and New Hampshire contests — even as cable news, Facebook ads, and small-dollar digital donations gain influence in the process of picking a nominee.
Those at the head of the chock-full field of candidates will be in Iowa — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator Kamala Harris of California included. But not Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who rocketed to the top of one Iowa poll this week: Her campaign says she’ll spend most of the day on an airplane, traveling from Nevada to a multicandidate forum Friday hosted by the National Education Association in Houston.
Biden, bruised from a lackluster first debate performance, and Beto O’Rourke, the former representative from Texas whose star has slumped since a buzzy entrance, are going for peak Americana: marching in the Independence Day parade in — where else? — Independence, Iowa. They’ll both also pop in to an Iowa Cubs minor league baseball game that night in Des Moines.
O’Rourke plans to double down with an appearance at a town reading of the Declaration of Independence in — wait — Independence, before the ball game.
For Sanders, the name of the holiday is endurance. The 77-year-old has four parades in central Iowa on his schedule, plus an ice cream social sandwiched in between.
Harris, who has drawn fresh attention after battering Biden in the debates, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., who is raising scads of money but losing ground in post-debate polls, are both attending barbecues hosted in separate Iowa outposts (Buttigieg is also hitting up a parade in Storm Lake, while Harris has a house party in Indianola).
Candidates were already colliding on the red, white, and blue circuit on Wednesday. A photo on social media showed Harris and fellow 2020 rival Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota gamely smiling for a photo together at the West Des Moines Democrats’ Fourth of July summer picnic.
New Hampshire, meanwhile, should be on alert for a lower-tier candidate pileup. No fewer than five candidates polling at 2 percent or less in national surveys signed up to walk in the Amherst, N.H., parade — though the crowd is down to four, after California Representative Eric Swalwell canceled his July 4 campaign events. (His campaign did not respond to an inquiry as to why.)
Hours before Trump basks in the jet fumes from the Navy’s Blue Angels and F-22 fighter jets, Klobuchar, Senator Kristin Gillibrand of New York, former Maryland congressman John Delaney, and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard will walk amid clowns, “Mini-Kars” (miniature cars), local youth circus performers, and the Sons of the Civil War Auxiliary, according to the parade’s Facebook page. But there’s no rest for the presidential candidate — or a New Hampshire parade organizer. Processions later in the day in Merrimack and Laconia expect multiple candidates. Author Marianne Williamson, meanwhile, will hold a reception and “live address” in Concord.
“It is not a time to complain, but to act,” she said in a press release preview.
Several 2020 hopefuls knocked the multimillion-dollar extravaganza planned for the National Mall, which has drawn criticism for its expected cost and politicization of what is typically a president-free celebration.
“This is what authoritarians do,” Sanders tweeted, linking to a Washington Post story detailing how the administration would cover just part of the expected price tag for the Trumpified event. The president “is taking $2.5 million away from our National Park Service to glorify himself with a spectacle of military tanks rolling through Washington.”
“It’s unAmerican. It reminds me of the Soviet Union or China or North Korea with these military displays,” Representative Seth Moulton, a veteran and Salem Democrat, said in Nevada, where he’ll be attending several July 4 festivities.
Trump, of course, doesn’t see it that way.
“It will be the show of a lifetime!” he tweeted earlier in the week.