Watch CBS News

Kamala Harris explains why she's "all in" on winning Iowa after campaign shakeup

Full interview: Kamala Harris on Iowa ground game
Full interview: Kamala Harris on Iowa ground game 11:02

Cedar Rapids, Iowa — Senator Kamala Harris says she is "all in" on winning the Iowa caucuses and will end up "doing very well" in the first contest of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

In an interview on Saturday, Harris explained the reasoning behind a recent campaign shakeup, in which her campaign shuttered field offices and laid off staff elsewhere to focus its efforts on Iowa. 

"I'm practically living in Iowa to do the work that is necessary to make sure that I earn the support and have the folks in the caucuses who are standing in Kamala's corner," Harris said in an interview Saturday.

In a memo to staffers and top donors on Thursday, campaign manager Juan Rodriguez outlined a plan to cut salaries, reduce staff at the campaign headquarters in Baltimore and in some early states and double down on Harris' plan to campaign in the Hawkeye State. On Friday, campaign aides told CBS News the campaign was closing all field offices in New Hampshire and laying off more than half of the staff in the state.

"It was a very difficult decision. But let me tell you, I care about New Hampshire," Harris said. "We still have folks in New Hampshire. I have spent time in that state. I care about the people of that state. And we know that Iowa being the first state, you know, you got to be all in here in order to be able to get to the point that we can actually get to New Hampshire and other states later."

Asked if she is betting on a top-three finish in Iowa, as her team has vowed in recent months, Harris would only say she is "going to end up in Iowa doing very well."

"And it is because we are putting the resources into the state and because I'm spending time doing everything from attending fish fries to steak fries to actually cooking in the kitchens with Iowan families and doing big town halls and doing small coffees and talking with voters and talking with people about the issues that they care about and keep them up at night," she said.

Harris said she had not heard concerns about her viability as a candidate during her conversations with voters in the Hawkeye State.

"When it comes to Iowans, they're nonplussed about what's happening with polls," she said. "They know that in Iowa they actually make decisions based on what is possible, even if other people don't think it's possible. This is what Iowa has done in the past and this is what I'm betting on, in terms of what I was going to do in this election, which is make a decision based on what they believe is possible."

Harris also joined the chorus of candidates pushing back on comments by rival Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who alluded to the idea over the weekend that campaign has become a two-way race between himself and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

"I just think that's just naive for him to think that at this point, that the fate of this election has been determined. Just look at history," Harris said. "He might need to review past elections to know that what's happening right now is not necessarily determinative of the outcome."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.