REUTERS: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will crisscross Iowa by bus for eight days starting on Saturday, the longest trek of his campaign, to make a personal appeal for support in a critical state where he has lost ground in polls.

Biden, who served as vice president to Democratic former President Barack Obama, is seeking the party’s nomination to face Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election but is battling a historically large field of rivals, many with better-financed operations.

Iowa, the state that hosts the first nominating contest on 3 February, will be a key test. Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor and US agriculture secretary, said many of the state’s Democrats are still weighing their options.

“They’re going to be looking for somebody who, at the end of the day, understands how to move the country forward in a way that’s realistic but also progressive,” said Vilsack, who endorsed Biden earlier this month.

Public opinion polls show Biden’s one-time double-digit lead in the state has disappeared, and he is now fighting fast-rising Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for first place. Biden, 77, still enjoys a lead in national public opinion polls.

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