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On the 2020 campaign trail, little talk of impeachment ahead of historic vote

KEOKUK, Iowa (Reuters) - During a seven-event swing in southeastern Iowa over the past several days, Democratic U.S. presidential contender Elizabeth Warren took more than 60 questions from voters on everything from sustainable farming to Medicare for All.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren attends a town hall event in Fairfield, Iowa, U.S. December 15, 2019. REUTERS/Brenna Norman

But only one person, a high school teacher named John Reardon, asked Warren about a subject that has riveted Washington and monopolized cable television for weeks: the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Despite the wall-to-wall coverage of the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democratic political rival Joe Biden, Warren and other leading presidential candidates – including Biden himself – have not spent much time on the campaign trail in recent days discussing the controversy.

In dozens of interviews with voters and local officials in the early voting states of Iowa and Nevada over the last week, as Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives drafted articles of impeachment and scheduled a full vote for Wednesday, many said they were more concerned with issues that affect their everyday lives.

“Obviously, if we can impeach him, we’d be glad to do it,” Tick Segerblom, a commissioner in Clark County, Nevada, and a supporter of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, said at a Sanders event in Las Vegas last week. “But people here are more focused on the local stuff.”

For many Democratic voters, impeachment remains a deeply serious matter, with most saying they agreed that House Democrats had their hand forced by Trump’s misconduct.

But they also noted the outcome is all but assured. Republicans have made it clear there is little chance Trump will be convicted in the Republican-held U.S. Senate.

Virtually every Democratic candidate has left little ambiguity about their support for the articles of impeachment. The five U.S. senators seeking the Democratic nomination, including Warren and Sanders, are all expected to vote in favour of conviction at the Senate trial, which is expected to begin next month.

“No one is above the law, not even the president,” Warren said at her town hall in Keokuk, Iowa, on Monday in response to the lone impeachment question she received over three days. “I don’t take this on lightly. But this is our responsibility, and we’ve got to do it.”

Reardon, the 44-year-old teacher who posed the question, acknowledged even he had planned to ask the candidate about other issues that were covered by the time his turn came.

“It is a very large issue, but I don’t think it’s going to change people’s minds,” he said in an interview. “I guess if I thought there was any chance it would go somewhere in the Senate, I would be more concerned. I don’t spend much time worrying about things that aren’t going to happen.”

Reporting by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis