Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held the first rally of her 2016 campaign on June 13th, but her day was far from over after the widely-viewed speech in New York City. That same day, she traveled to Sioux City, Iowa, where she attended a house party and gave a brief speech that was simulcast to other gatherings around the country, including more than a dozen in Iowa.
One such gathering was held at Iowa State Representative Marti Anderson’s home in Des Moines. Anderson recently underwent surgery on her knee, but a little pain was not enough to stop her from supporting Clinton. “I just believe in her so much,” Anderson said.
Anderson said that Clinton’s advocacy for children impressed her. “I have watched Hillary over the years with her work with the Children’s Defense Fund, her work with civil rights,” Anderson said. “Her agenda for children is what attracted me to begin with.”
Creating a better world for their children continued to be a prime concern for many of the people that attended Clinton’s Des Moines launch party the next day. Steve Lamansky, 66, said he believes Clinton could make a difference with climate change, a hot-button issue for him: “I want my grandchild to go outside when she’s an adult and take a deep breath.”
Clinton did address several children’s issues in her speech at the launch party. “Political campaigns should be about what kind of future we can create together. For ourselves, but most particularly, our children, and our grandchildren.”
Clinton went on to skewer Republicans for supporting billionaires and corporations rather than helping families and children. “I believe our success isn’t measured by how much the wealthiest Americans have, but by how many children climb out of poverty,” Clinton said.
Not every attendee was fully committed to Clinton. Jill Applegate, 24, works for Every Child Matters in Iowa, an organization that puts children’s issues in the national spotlight. She attended the launch party both for her job and as a private citizen who wanted to know more about Clinton’s views on children’s issues.
“I know so far in her campaign she’s talked a lot about kid’s issues and working family issues, like paid family leave, making sure every child has equal opportunities, so, really I’m here to find out more about that,” Applegate said.
However, Applegate is still weighing her options. “I do think that there are good challengers for the Democratic nomination,” Applegate said before identifying Bernie Sanders as a possible threat. “I went to Bernie’s town hall on Friday night, and it was really incredible to see how many people were there and how many supporters he has for his political revolution. “
Applegate may have a point. Sanders’ town hall meeting attracted over 800 people, while Clinton’s launch rally brought 713, according to her campaign. These numbers might come as a shock to voters like Anderson, who call the Democratic election “Hillary‘s to lose.”
Even more surprising may be the energy difference in the two rooms. Clinton received applause at the lines you might expect, including repeats from her New York City rally the day before; the “Yesterday” song and “youngest woman president” line are sure to become popular soundbites for Clinton.
But Sanders’ crowd was not content with simply clapping. They gave him standing ovations throughout, especially when he talked climate change, energy infrastructure, education, prisons, and of course, getting big money out of politics. Chanting “Bernie” was also a common occurrence, as were whoops and screams that made applause at Clinton’s event seem a bit lackluster (although, to be fair, certain revolutionary policies may be attracting slightly more rowdy supporters to Sanders’ events).
Most notable is the differing style between the two candidates. Clinton was introduced, gave her speech, and then moved on to join grassroots supporters at a house party in Burlington. Sanders added a question and answer session after his speech, a technique that his Iowa campaign coordinator Pete D’Alessandro said is “very unique” to Sanders’ campaign. “He does it everywhere because he respects the process to the point where he believes it should be a back and forth, it shouldn’t be the politician talking to someone,” D’Alessandro said.
Clinton has many supporters, and the kickoff to her campaign in Iowa is going well. Her speech touched on key points important to the audience, including building the middle class, moving towards gender equality, and creating a better future for our children. She is still the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. But the size and enthusiasm of Sanders’ event show that Clinton still has work to do to tie down a victory in the Iowa Caucus.
(Read further coverage on our previous post: Bernie Sanders Momentum Continues, Packs The House At Drake)
by Angela Ufheil
Photo by Greg Hauenstein. See more of his work at www.greghauenstein.com