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Just days before the Iowa caucus and the official start of the 2020 presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign floated the idea of a pact with Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s campaign, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. The Klobuchar team reportedly said thanks, but no thanks.
Three Biden staffers met with Klobuchar strategist Pete Giangreco earlier this week to ask about “the prospect” that, on caucus night, the campaigns could organize their supporters to back the other candidate in precincts where one or both would fall short of the 15 percent threshold needed to reach the second round, the Times reported.
Giangreco said Klobuchar wouldn’t go for it, according to the Times, and the campaign later put that on the record. “Our campaign is on the rise,” communications director Tim Hogan told the Times. “We’ve never made caucus deals with other campaigns and don’t intend to.”
In recent weeks, Sen. Bernie Sanders has shot to the top of the polls in Iowa, heightening fears among moderate Democrats that he could go on a run in early primary states. Although recent polling has Biden essentially tied with Sanders nationally, the caucus system played a significant role in Sanders’ success in 2016.
The Klobuchar campaign isn’t wrong about her ascendance: two Iowa polls released this week showed her polling in double digits, after spending much of the campaign mired in the mid-single digits. Klobuchar and Warren won a New York Times co-endorsement earlier this month, and Warren recently picked up the endorsement of the Des Moines Register, but so far the Massachusetts senator hasn’t seen a concurrent bump in polling.
While the Klobuchar campaign so far isn’t taking Biden’s offered deal, there’s precedent for this sort of move happening last minute. Hours before the 2004 Iowa caucus, then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich asked his supporters to back then-Sen. John Edwards in precincts where Kucinich wouldn’t reach 15 percent. While it wasn’t enough to help Edwards beat the eventual nominee John Kerry, the pact did help knock former Congressman Dick Gephardt out of the race.
While the early voting states—Iowa, New Hampshire (February 11), Nevada (February 22), and South Carolina (February 29)—are eating up the attention of most candidates and the media, a wrench named Michael Bloomberg is threatening to throw the next stage of the primary into chaos.
The former New York mayor and ex-Republican made it a point to skip the early states and has been flooding the airwaves in states that vote on Super Tuesday in early March, including California. Recent national polling has Bloomberg ahead of most other candidates except for Biden, Sanders, and Warren.
But while many expect the field to be winnowed down in a big way after the first few states—Michael Bennet and John Delaney haven’t dropped out yet, if you can believe that—Klobuchar insisted earlier this week that she will continue on to New Hampshire regardless of what happens in Iowa.
“You think it’s only going to be down to four candidates even by New Hampshire? No, it’s not,” Klobuchar told the Times. In a jab at Bloomberg, she asked, “Why would I get out if he’s still in?”
Cover: Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar stand together before a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.