Talking briefly to Joe Biden Sunday following his final rally before the Iowa caucuses, I mentioned that I knew Robert Juliano, legendary restaurant workers' lobbyist and a friend of Biden's since 1973.
Juliano told Newsmax last summer that Biden would do well in his 2020 presidential campaign if he didn't listen to professional consultants and instead followed his own instincts.
"I've known Bobby a long time," Biden replied, nodding vigorously. "And you know, he's right!"
Hours before the start of the first-in-the-nation presidential sweepstakes, it was obvious from the rally at the Ben and Bernice Baker Center in Des Moines that the former vice president is indeed following his own instincts by counting on those he knows best — namely, seasoned Democratic politicians and union activists — to put him over the top in Iowa.
Where the closing rallies for leading rivals Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg were noticeable by the strong presence of young people and political newcomers, Biden's event was jammed with union members and familiar Democratic politicians.
The "warm up" speaker was Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF). Schaitberger has been in Iowa once a week for more than a month to mobilize his members behind Biden in the caucuses.
Hailing Biden's "40-year-record" of fighting for his membership and those of other unions, the IAFF chief vowed that his members would be standing for him at hundreds of the 1,600 sites for caucus participation throughout the Hawkeye State.
Iowa's freshman Democratic Reps. Cynthia Axne and Abby Finkenauer implored the crowd to get Biden nominated because, as Finkenauer put it, "we need Joe at the top of the ticket" to put the state's legislature in the Democrats' hands. According to Finkenauer, the Republican-controlled legislature was "against working men and women" by "privatizing Medicare and ending collective bargaining."
Biden himself was clearly comfortable singing the praises of the familiar political faces from inside and outside Iowa. Referring to the state's former Gov. Tom Vilsack, he said former President Barack Obama naming him secretary of agriculture "was one of his best decisions." Singling out Iowa's Tom Miller, the nation's longest-serving state attorney general (37 years), Biden recalled how his late son Beau "liked you very, very much" when Beau was Delaware's attorney general.
He also gave shout-outs to former Sens. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and John Kerry of Massachusetts, saying that 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Kerry "should have been president."
As he has done on numerous occasions, Biden drew wild cheers by denouncing President Donald Trump as "the most callous son-of-a-gun who ever lived" and declaring his refusal to believe "that the other side is the enemy" — vowing to work with Republicans in Congress.
"If Joe is nominated, a lot of working people will come back to the Democratic fold — and that will be a disaster for Trump," Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, a former candidate for the presidential nomination and now a Biden backer, told Newsmax during the rally. "And I think what the two congresswomen said about getting the best candidate at the top of the ticket in November is going to resonate with undecided voters."
Ryan was clearly voicing what Biden himself is relying on to win on Monday — and, in so doing, was heeding the advice of his old friend Juliano to follow his own instincts.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.