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Elizabeth Warren's campaign downplays early state expectations in new pre-Iowa memo

Updated 12:00 PM ET, Fri January 24, 2020

(CNN) - With the Iowa caucuses a week from Monday, Elizabeth Warren's campaign is zooming out -- playing down the importance of the early states and projecting a long primary that could stretch deep into the spring.

In a memo released Friday, Warren campaign manager Roger Lau touts the organization's robust nationwide staff and charts a path to winning the nearly 2,000 delegates needed to secure the nomination. But he also downplays the first round of contests, beginning next week in Iowa.

"We expect this to be a long nomination fight and have built our campaign to sustain well past Super Tuesday and stay resilient no matter what breathless media narratives come when voting begins," Lau writes.

Warren remains in the top tier of candidates in Iowa 10 days out from the caucuses, where most polls show the Massachusetts senator in a tight, four-way race with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg. But Warren's numbers, in the early states and nationally, have mostly stalled since her summer surge. Perhaps more troubling for the campaign is a new poll, released on Thursday by Boston-based WBUR, which showed Sanders, at 29%, leading in New Hampshire with more than double the support of Warren, who registered only 13%. Both Sanders and Warren represent neighboring states and would take defeat there harder than Biden or Buttigieg.

Lau's memo seeks to downplay those "narrative" angles and shift the focus off of the states voting in February and onto Super Tuesday and beyond. It features graphics that underline -- literally -- the percentage of total delegates on offer in four groups of contests. The "Early States," it reminds voters, make up only 3.9% of the full slate.

"The four early states contests are just the beginning," Lau says, before describing the campaign's "roadmap for building an organization that will not just win the Democratic nomination, but also take back the Senate, hold the House, and flip critical state legislative chambers as we head into 2021."

That includes a plan to keep staff on the ground in Iowa after the caucuses as part of a broader effort to build "a critical mass of support in more than enough states to foreclose any path to an Electoral College victory for Donald Trump." That's possible, according to the memo, in part because of the campaign's strong small-dollar fundraising -- the campaign says it received its 3 millionth "grassroots contribution" on Thursday.

"For states that will be part of Elizabeth Warren's path to victory in the Electoral College, it's especially critical that we don't lose momentum or stall the infrastructure after the primary has passed when we have a chance to keep building for the even bigger contest in November," Lau writes, making the case that the strength of Warren's organization should be considered during electability discussions.

Looking ahead even further, Lau talks up the campaign's plans to keep in close contact and work alongside state and local parties to help build a base of support down the ballot.

"Elizabeth Warren aims to make Election Day in November not the end of a campaign," he writes, "but rather the kickoff of an unprecedented grassroots mobilization to make our economy and our government truly work for the people."


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