“We didn’t lose one American life,” Harkin said, in introducing Biden. “That’s leadership folks, that’s leadership.”
The hopeful tone in Biden’s and Harkin’s remarks came despite Obama’s warning in an interview Sunday, “if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act.”
Obama, who rode an anti-war wave to victory in Iowa’s 2008 presidential caucuses, had proposed limited air strikes in Syria in response to what the U.S. says was a chemical weapons attack last month that killed more than 1,400 people. His administration blames the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Some Democrats in attendance said that even if the president later orders a military strike, Obama will not have rushed to war.
“At the end of the day, if that terrible option has to be played out, this crowd, what they voted for Barack Obama to do, what they wanted, was this kind of leadership: smart, thoughtful not reactionary,” said former state party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky.
His own party cool to a military strike, Obama has struggled to win support for military action from members of Congress, whose constituents have endured more than a decade of war.
An Associated Press poll taken Sept. 6-8 showed 34 percent of Democrats said they wanted Congress to back military action. More than three-fourths said they thought any military such action was at least somewhat likely to turn into a long-term commitment of forces, including 44 percent who said it was extremely likely.
Asked if he could rally leery Democrats should diplomacy fail, Biden told reporters briefly “I think we’re going to be OK.”
Biden is considering running for the top job in the White House in 2016, and the crowd he mingled with Sunday, including many familiar with the two-time presidential candidate, would have the opening say during the state’s caucuses.