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Joe Biden has regained a slight lead over Elizabeth Warren in Iowa, although the two are still within a statistical tie in the first caucus state, according to a new poll from Focus on Rural America.

Biden is at 25% in the poll, ahead of Warren’s 23% but within the 4.4 percentage point margin of error. Bernie Sanders is in fourth place, at 9%.

Candidates from the Midwest did particularly well: Pete Buttigieg of Indiana is in third place, at 12%, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is in fifth place with 8%.

Focus on Rural America is a rural issues advocacy group, and its pollster is David Binder, who was Barack Obama’s pollster in 2008 and 2012 and advised Kamala Harris in her 2016 Senate campaign in California. Harris is at 5% in the Iowa poll, down from the 18% support she had in July.

At the other end of the field, most Iowa caucus-goers have ruled out Julian Castro and Andrew Yang. For Castro, 18% said they ruled out the former Housing secretary based on his debate performance last week, when he attacked the 76-year-old Biden’s memory.

Trump Attacks O’Rourke’s ’Hell Yes’ on Guns

Beto O’Rourke’s unabashed “hell, yes” about a mandatory assault weapons buyback has made it more difficult for Democrats to reach a deal on gun safety, according to President Donald Trump.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that O’Rourke’s comment during last week’s Democratic debate “made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away. Will continue forward!”

Few Democrats in Congress have publicly proposed legislation as ambitious as O’Rourke’s buyback although some other candidates for the party’s presidential nod are supportive of such a move.

Trump has been backpedaling from a statement in August after 31 people were killed in mass shootings in one weekend that he had “an appetite” for bolstering background checks. The president hasn’t endorsed Democratic proposals with broader support, such as a House-passed bill that would expand background checks.

O’Rourke received praise from his rivals for how he responded to the shooting last month in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, that killed 22 people and wounded 24. His proposal to enforce a mandatory gun buyback program for military-style automatic weapons received loud cheers from the audience during the Democratic presidential debate in Houston earlier this month. – Kasia Klimasinska

Fossil-Fuel Investment May Trip Up Steyer

Billionaire Tom Steyer’s small investment in a Colorado-based oil company could create big headaches for him.

In his Federal Election Commission financial disclosure available Tuesday, the presidential candidate listed a stake worth between $1,000 and $15,000 in Direct Petroleum Exploration Inc., a company involved in oil production.

That’s not even a rounding error for Steyer whose net worth Bloomberg estimates at $3.1 billion, but it could prove troublesome because the former hedge fund manager has put climate change at the center of his campaign and is among the 18 candidates who have sworn off contributions from fossil-fuel executives.

At a CNN climate forum on Sept. 4, front-runner Joe Biden faced pointed questions about a fundraiser for him co-hosted by a former energy executive. Biden responded that the executive, Western LNG co-founder Andrew Goldman, was no longer active in the company or on the board. The former vice president added that he was serious about not taking money from fossil fuel executives or political action committees. Still, environmental groups that promoted the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” accused him of violating its spirit.

Steyer, who has qualified for the Oct. 15 debate, is scheduled to appear Friday at a climate forum this week. – Bill Allison

COMING UP

MSNBC will host a seven-hour climate change forum on Thursday and Friday. The event will feature 11 Democratic candidates: Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Steve Bullock, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang and Steyer. Republican primary challenger Bill Weld will also participate.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union will host forums in Iowa and Michigan with Democratic presidential candidates on Sept. 29 and Oct. 13. Bennet, Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have confirmed that they will attend.

With assistance from Bill Allison and Kasia Klimasinska.

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