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Harris Says Iowa's Caucuses Can Prove She's Electable

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., casts a straw poll vote for herself at the Charleston Blue Jamboree, Oct. 5, 2019, in North Charleston, S.C.

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris told Iowa voters on Sunday that they can help refute questions about her electability if they support her in the caucuses.

"Iowans have the ability to show our country what can be, even if we've never seen it before," Harris said during an event on Iowa State University's campus.

The visit to Ames marked her first to the state since Harris announced plans to recommit her focus on Iowa, as part of an effort to turn around a campaign that has thus far struggled to gain traction. The California senator is planning to campaign in Iowa for half the month of October, will double her campaign staff from 65 to 130 and add 10 field offices over the next month.

Harris told reporters after the event, however, that nothing overall would change about her strategy in the Hawkeye State beyond her plans to focus more of her time here.

"It's the plan that we've always had, which is after Labor Day, double the resources here," she said.

"It's basically about doing what is, I think, an important part of the process, which is engaging with people on the ground, where they live, in their neighborhoods, in their homes to talk about the issues that concern them, and address them."

The ISU event was smaller than many she's had in Iowa. Asked if she was concerned about the crowd, Harris simply said, "I'm not into comparing crowd size."

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at a rally, Aug. 12, 2019, in Davenport, Iowa.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at a rally, Aug. 12, 2019, in Davenport, Iowa.

Some Iowa Democrats have questioned whether Harris' decision to refocus on Iowa has come too late in the race, as a number of other campaigns have already built out 100-strong staffs and opened field offices across Iowa. But many voters in attendance at the Harris event said they were still making up their minds.

"I think I'm like a typical Iowan who expects to check out all the candidates," said Kyle Poorman, a 38-year-old agricultural researcher from Ames. He said, however, that Harris didn't win him over Sunday.

"I almost feel like she maybe is listening to too many advisers," Poorman said, noting she didn't offer many Iowa-specific answers to the questions she was asked. He also said "she probably has a great story that didn't come out on the stump,'' because in his mind she focused too much on President Donald Trump.

Katherine Worley, a 33-year-old international educator from Ames, said she still hadn't decided on her top candidates and wasn't sure if Harris would make the cut. "I have to see more people," she said.

And the California senator's decision to focus more of her time in the state didn't impress Worley.

"There's already energy and focus on Iowa, so I think that's great, but I don't know if it necessarily sways me," she said.