Biden kicks off ‘No Malarkey’ bus tour in push to regain momentum in Iowa

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday launched his “No Malarkey” bus tour in Iowa, part of a bid to regain momentum among the state’s voters ahead of the nation’s first presidential caucuses.

The frontrunner’s eight-day bus tour is part of an effort to sharpen his pitch before the Feb. 3 caucuses as polls have shown Biden slipping in the first-in-the-nation state. The tour will cover 18 counties and is a play on one of Biden’s most well-known phrases.

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Perhaps most notably it was used in his 2012 vice-presidential debate with then GOP VP hopeful Paul Ryan, when he told his rival that his criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy was “a bunch of malarkey.”

Campaign Manager Greg Schultz told The Gazette that it was part of Biden’s effort to “work harder than anyone else to earn the support of Iowans.”

“When Joe Biden first announced he was running, he told Iowans they’d be seeing a lot of him — and he meant it,” Schultz told the outlet. “Being honest, upfront and authentic is core to who Joe Biden is and why Iowans love him.”

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But the tour comes in the shadow of dismal polling numbers for Biden in the Hawkeye State. While Biden remains top of the pack in national Democratic presidential primary polling, in the state, Biden has been struggling.

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Recent polls have shown South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg surging ahead in the state, with an Iowa State University poll showing Biden also behind Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The Associated Press reports that Biden opened the month with an underwhelming speech at the state party’s “Liberty & Justice” gala, with whole sections of seats purchased by the campaign remaining empty.

It taps into concerns about Biden’s campaign that his national advantage, which relies on non-white voters who will help him in places such as Nevada and South Carolina, will struggle in the overwhelmingly white state of Iowa.

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While Biden has benefited from a strong national lead and a status of presumed frontrunner, a poor showing in Iowa could quickly damage that standing, and in turn lead to support leaking to other candidates.

Biden has been hit by questions not only about his fitness and age, as well as his past record in the Senate, but also about his and his son’s Hunter’s conduct in Ukraine. Those questions have resurfaced amid the impeachment inquiry in the House, which has focused on alleged White House efforts to prod Ukraine into investigating the Biden connection to Ukraine energy company Burisma Holdings.

Fox News' Nick Givas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.