(Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday scrapped three Iowa campaign appearances scheduled for this week, as he and the other U.S. senators running for president remained in Washington for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.
Instead of Sanders, progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will appear in his place for two Iowa events. The swap marks the first scheduling casualty of the Senate's gruelling impeachment schedule.
Sanders is one of four Democratic senators running for president who must now divert from the campaign trail and return to Washington, a wrinkle in campaign plans that each is trying to offset using surrogates and intense weekend schedules.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, whose campaign received an unexpected boost over the holiday weekend when she along with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren received endorsements from the New York Times, on Tuesday announced a dozen events to be held by surrogates in comings days in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Warren is scheduled to appear via video before a union event in Las Vegas, while plans for two Iowa appearances on Saturday may yet be upended by impeachment hearings on the weekend. Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, who dropped his own presidential bid and endorsed Warren, will also campaign on her behalf.
The Senate is expected to work six days a week during the trial, and senators must sit as jurors. The proceedings could take weeks and easily stretch into February, overlapping with the first nominating contest to be held in Iowa on Feb. 3.
Trump, a Republican, is charged by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with abusing the powers of his office when he asked Ukraine to investigate a Democratic political rival, Joe Biden, and obstructing a congressional inquiry into his conduct.
The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, was due to vote on rules for the trial on Tuesday.
Campaign activities by the other two leading Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, will not be affected by the impeachment hearings.
This week Buttigieg will crisscross Iowa to host five town hall events before he heads to Washington DC on Thursday to speak at the United States Conference of Mayors. He will then head to South Carolina to for two faith-based events.
Biden and his wife Jill, meanwhile, will participate in nine scheduled events in Iowa starting on Tuesday.
But a fourth senator seeking the nomination, Michael Bennet of Colorado, must also return to Washington for the trial.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker, Jarrett Renshaw and Trevor Hunnicut; Editing by Tom Brown and Andrea Ricci)
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