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CAMPAIGN '88 : Simon Reaps Windfall: Biden Iowa Staffers

October 15, 1987|James Risen

Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois became the chief beneficiary of the collapse of Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s presidential campaign Wednesday, when almost all of Biden's former Iowa campaign staff--along with Biden's most influential supporter in the state--announced they were joining Simon's presidential campaign.

Almost all of the remaining Democratic candidates had sought the group's support. Simon has already built a solid base in Iowa, and the addition of the Biden staff, widely considered to have been one of the best in the state, should give Simon even more credibility. In a press conference in Des Moines on Wednesday, Simon said the move was the "most significant" event of his campaign since he announced his candidacy.

Led by Biden consultant Lowell Junkins, the Iowa Democratic Party's last gubernatorial nominee who was Biden's top supporter in the state, virtually the entire paid staff of 25 to 30 ex-Biden campaign workers shifted over to Simon.

Former Biden supporters see Simon not only as someone who is close to Biden on many issues but as a candidate who has remained free of any taint from the campaign videotape wars that did in Biden's candidacy. Many former Biden supporters in Iowa are still angry at Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, because it was his campaign that leaked videotapes to the press showing Biden's plagiarizing in his speeches.

Party officials in Iowa say the decision by Junkins and the Biden staff may influence other elected officials in the state who had endorsed Biden to switch to Simon. In fact, Junkins is apparently trying to persuade many other statewide leaders who had supported Biden to move en masse to Simon, and Simon said Wednesday that he expects other leaders to endorse him in the next few weeks.

Apart from Simon's positions on the issues and his reputation for running a clean campaign, Biden supporters have found him attractive because he is doing well in the polls in Iowa and has a well-developed organization in the state.

Indeed, Simon is doing better in Iowa than anywhere else; he is a senator from a neighboring state who has posted a relatively strong showing in most polls here. Simon's strength with the Iowa labor movement also has helped attract some union leaders who had been leaning to Biden.

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