LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Mayor Eric Garcetti is traveling to the early presidential election caucus state of Iowa Friday for a two-day visit, ostensibly to campaign for Democrats ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Garcetti, a Democrat, is on record that he is considering a run for president, and the Iowa trip follows his recent visits to the early primary states of New Hampshire, where he campaigned for Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig before she was elected, and South Carolina, where he promoted his “Accelerator for America” nonprofit.

Only a handful of presidents ever served as mayors, and they all had won higher offices before reaching the White House. Americans never have elevated a city leader directly to the presidency from city hall, and no sitting mayor has even won a major party’s presidential nomination.

But that hasn’t deterred Garcetti, or New York’s Bill De Blasio and New Orleans’ Mitch Landrieu, who are also mulling 2020 bids. So, too, are Pete Buttigeig of South Bend, Indiana, and Julian Castro, housing secretary in the Obama administration and a former San Antonio mayor.

Mayors with national aspirations seem less fazed than their predecessors by the idea that voters are looking for candidates with more national experience. Consider that Donald Trump was a political newcomer before winning in 2016.

Garcetti’s mission in Iowa is to make it clear to activists that his big-city experience can translate onto the national stage.

He is the executive of a jurisdiction of roughly 4 million people, about a million more than the state of Iowa, heads a police department of 30,000 and oversees the nation’s busiest seaport. He and others are also stepping forward on national issues such as immigration, a burning concern for Democrats in Iowa angry with the Republican-controlled Legislature and GOP for enacting legislation last week outlawing “sanctuary cities.”

Garcetti promotes his opposition to such measures in Los Angeles, among cities that don’t assist with federal immigration enforcement, where he has created of a $10-million legal defense fund for immigrants threatened with deportation and defied U.S. Justice Department calls for local police to demonstrate immigration status when no serious crime has been committed.

Iowa could be Garcetti’s early campaign proving ground. His trip itinerary includes a stop in Altoona to tour a new carpenter training facility with Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and Altoona Mayor Dean O’Connor. He is also set to travel to Des Moines today to make brief remarks at a meet-and-greet event with the Asian and Latino Coalition, and attend a reception and dinner for One Iowa, a statewide LGBTQ organization.

On Saturday, Garcetti is scheduled to have breakfast in Des Moines with firefighters ending their shifts and with law enforcement leaders at Mullets restaurant, and also make brief informal remarks at a meet-and-greet with Polk County Democrats at Cooney’s Tavern.

Garcetti is also expected to travel to Waterloo on Saturday, where he will tour the Cedar Valley Tech Works campus with Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart before traveling to Davenport to attend a reception and then deliver an address at the Scott County Democrats’ Red, White and Blue Dinner.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and wire services contributed to this report.)

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