DAVENPORT, Iowa | About three dozen people rallied on Davenport’s riverfront Saturday, showing their support for Vice President Joe Biden, with many hoping that he’ll jump into the 2016 presidential race.
Leaders of the Draft Biden 2016 effort said here Saturday they are seeing a groundswell of support from across the country.
Will Pierce, the group’s executive director, said 81,000 signatures of support have been gathered so far, and he expects that number to grow significantly because of a recent solicitation.
He added the draft group has hired state directors in Iowa and New Hampshire, and it plans to hold other rallies like the one Saturday in Davenport.
Under a tent at Modern Woodmen Park, organizers praised Biden on Saturday and had some fun, too. They passed out support cards and stickers that read: “I’m Ridin’ with Biden.” They also had a trivia contest about the vice president, and for people who answered questions correctly, they got tickets to a Quad-Cities River Bandits game.
State Sen. Joe Seng, D-Davenport, was part of the group. So were other activists.
The rally also drew Don Cooley of Wheaton, Ill., a Chicago suburb. Cooley said he took notice of Biden eight years ago while watching him on television. He was so impressed that he went to Dubuque to work for several days on Biden’s campaign during the 2008 election cycle.
“I got to meet him, and that sealed it,” Cooley said. "You meet that man for five minutes, and you know he’s the real deal. He’s got so much experience, so much knowledge. His head’s on straight. He doesn’t have a big ego.”
Cooley said that he doesn’t need convincing to support Biden. He said he drove down for the rally “to make the crowd one bigger.”
So far, there are four Democrats in the presidential race: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia also has been in Iowa and is considering a run.
Early polls say that Clinton is the leader in Iowa. A recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll said 57 percent of likely caucus goers are backing Clinton, with Sanders next at 16 percent. Biden was third at 8 percent.
Still, people who attended the rally said there’s room for more.
Tom Engelmann, a longtime Democratic activist from Davenport, praised Biden’s experience, notably on foreign policy.
"I think he would add something to the race,” said Engelmann, who is uncommitted. "He definitely has a lot of knowledge. He’s been a very good vice president."