Later in the week, a Bloomberg event featuring two top officials from the Klobuchar campaign was even better attended. Justin Buoen, the campaign manager, told the assembled reporters how they were compensating for the senator’s absence by, for instance, tele-town- hall-style events in which the candidate speaks to thousands of voters at a time over speaker phone, or at least while talking into the void of a laptop while sitting in a small office.
“Sorry this is a little later than we planned, but I think you all understand I have my job — to fulfill my constitutional duty,” Ms. Klobuchar said at one such event earlier in the week. “I’m going to be there tomorrow and the next day and the next day.” A small note of frustration crept into her voice. She wished she could be in Iowa in person, she said.
“We’ve been making lemonade out of lemons,” Mr. Buoen said, back in Des Moines.
At the Sanders event in Ottumwa, there was not much else to do once the caucusgoers had heard from Mr. Moore and from Ben and Jerry (O.K., Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield), and once they had eaten their ice cream, with its dense and occasionally challenging mélange of flavors.
“I understand why, but it would have been nicer if Bernie was here,” said Toni Couch, 56, who had recently moved to Iowa from California. “It’s a shame.”
With Mr. Sanders absent, Edward Nydle, 65, a retired postal carrier, pondered his ice cream, which to him felt suspiciously like the ice cream of the 1 percent.
“To be honest, I’ve never bought it before,” he said. “I can’t afford it.”
Matt Flegenheimer contributed reporting from Des Moines.