Retired Harkin Pitches Policies To The Left Of Sanders

If you didn’t know any better, you might have thought Tom Harkin was Bernie Sanders’ surrogate speaker at Progress Iowa’s Corn Feed event on Sunday. Actually, scratch that – you might have concluded that Harkin was using his speech to push Sanders to the left. To a crowd of a couple hundred, Harkin laid out a host of impressively bold policy ideas that he stated would “provoke your thinking” on the future of the progressive movement. The former Senator’s speech turned out to be the most fascinating of the day, and not just because he endorsed Hillary Clinton three weeks […]

Is Sam Clovis the New Kent Sorenson?

Endorsements are a complicated issue. For one thing, there is always an open question about if endorsements matter. (Is anyone really swayed by the fact that Lil B has endorsed Bernie Sanders?) Additionally, there is a concern about why someone would choose to endorse; if there’s quid involved for the quo. In Iowa, these concerns have only grown over the last few years as Rand Paul acolytes are still being indicted for the great Kent Sorenson capper of 2011. (In 2011, then state senator Sorenson decided to abandon the sinking Bachmann campaign for the greener pastures – and greener pay […]

Bernie Sanders Makes Electability Argument Every Democrat Should Consider

Bernie Sanders knows he has a problem. Despite all the national momentum, the massive crowds he turns out from coast to coast and his 400,000 small-dollar donors, the former independent has been hitting a ceiling of support lately. While he’s pulled ahead of Clinton in neighboring New Hampshire, he remains stuck in the 25%-30% in Iowa and most national polls. Clinton struggles with her email server problem, yet instead of seeing worried Democrats turn to Sanders, all the talk this week was about Vice President Joe Biden joining the race. Why? Most speculate that Democrats are concerned about Sanders’ electability […]

Tom Vilsack’s Reintroduction To Iowa Politics

For a moment on Wednesday at the DMACC Ankeny campus, an Iowa Democrat attending Hillary Clinton’s rural policy roll-out could have felt like they were back in 1998, with Clinton and Tom Vilsack sharing a campaign stage. And as Vilsack delivered a graceful, touching homage to his friend running for president, one could wonder if they were witnessing something else as well. Perhaps this was also a glimpse of the future, a beginning of the former governor’s return to Iowa politics. Vilsack introduced and threw his support behind Clinton in an extended ten minute speech in Ankeny, which he apologized […]

Donald Trump Embraces The Putin Foreign Policy Approach

If you’ve watched a full Donald Trump “speech” before, you know his stream-of-consciousness style can be hard to follow. Bouncing around like a pinball from topic to topic, Trump occasionally lands on an applause line, while other times he goes for long stretches without making much sense. However, if you listen closely and parse out the pithy insults, the random tangents and vague references you only understand if you’ve listened to him often, a pattern on certain policy issues actually does emerge at times. Take his speech this Tuesday in Dubuque, where Trump spoke at considerable length on foreign relations […]

O’Malley Grassroots Effort Chugging Along, Holding 30 House Parties Wednesday

While Hillary Clinton faces email questions, Bernie Sanders draws large crowds but also protests and Donald Trump dominates every headline, Martin O’Malley has been diligently working the Iowa campaign trail. Since his announcement at the end of May, he’s been in Iowa more than any other Democrat. This week his campaign looks to show off some of the organizational strength they’ve built in that time by holding 30 house parties on Wednesday in all parts of Iowa. This will be the O’Malley Iowa campaign’s first official “Day of Action,” a tactic many campaigns use to activate supporters throughout the state. […]

Walker’s Disinvite Xi Talk May Damage Walker-Branstad Relations Instead

Scott Walker’s harsh talk today on Chinese President Xi Jinping may be aimed at positioning himself as a tough negotiator in American-Chinese relations, but it could end up hurting his relations on a more pressing political front: Iowa and its Governor, Terry Branstad. After the Dow experienced a 3.6% drop today following a major fall in the Chinese stock markets, several Republican presidential candidates took to Twitter to re-up their criticism of China’s role in the world economy. Donald Trump suggested America was too closely tied with the Asian markets, leaving the country more vulnerable to their economic downturns. Walker, […]

Top 10 Wildest Moments From Iowa State Fair Campaigning

After 11 days, 21 presidential candidates and a whole lot of pork chops-on-a-sticks eaten, the 2015 Iowa State Fair has (sadly) come to a close. It will likely be remembered as the most political caucus Fair for some time, with every legitimate candidate save for Rand Paul showing up. Team Starting Line was on hand for all but one candidate (missed Jeb Bush) to bring you every moment. Here’s our list of the 10 best ones: 1. Trump Buzzes Hillary in Helicopter, Tells Child “I Am Batman” It’s doubtful many other moments during the 2016 Iowa Caucus campaign will stick […]

Protests Disrupt Final Day of State Fair Speeches

Speaking on a Saturday at the State Fair usually ensures a good-sized audience to listen to you as the high weekend attendance helps bring in some on-lookers. It also, however, seems to be a prime day for organized protests. The first three Soapbox speakers on Saturday – Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal – all faced loud and sometimes raucous protests. As always, Starting Line was nearby (and am a little sad it was my last day at the Fair). Here’s how the craziness unfolded: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz The divisiveness of the DNC’s mandated debate schedule was on full display […]

John Kasich’s Big Iowa Problem Isn’t Medicaid Or Immigration, It’s This

Of all the Republican candidates to visit the Iowa State Fair this week, John Kasich certainly stood out in his speech at the Soapbox. Speaking inside to a decent-sized crowd of about 150 (the Soapbox, which he chose not to stand on, was moved inside due to threat of bad storms), Kasich left the red meat one-liners aside for other candidates to revel in, giving instead a thoughtful, introspective speech on the purpose of public service, and a bit on life itself. After a 20-minute philosophical musing in which he argued we all need to be “a center of justice […]