Fresh off her presidential debate performance, one that catapulted her to the top of Google candidate searches for the evening, Marianne Williamson returned to Iowa today for a series of events with local Democrats.
At an event in Grimes, the author acknowledged that some of her comments on stage about the lack of importance of policy plans may have come off as “silly.” She noted the social media jokes that followed, but reassured the crowd she both had extensive policy ideas and knew the necessity of getting them passed.
“I am a left-wing Democrat. I am a progressive Democrat,” Williamson told a crowd at a later event in Boone. “I want that $15/hour minimum wage, I want to have a Medicare available, I want to have free college and state universities, and I want to have an eradication of that college loan debt. But to me, that’s not where it ends, that’s where it begins.”
But many of her other remarks today followed her usual unique stump speech focused on healing the divide in American politics, the message that helped turn heads during the debate.
“This man [Trump] is a phenomenon. And he will only be defeated by a phenomenon,” Williamson argued. “And an insider political conversation is not going to defeat the outsider power of Donald Trump … We have to be able to motivate and generate the same kind of passion.”
In Boone, she spoke to about 40 local Democrats who had gathered for a picnic despite the 100+ degree heat index. She drew the loudest applause and cheers of the five major speakers during her animated delivery. Dr. Jill Biden, John Delaney, Joe Sestak and John Bessler (Amy Klobuchar’s husband) were also on hand.
She also drew some curiosity from the other presidential campaign staffers at the Boone event. Nearly all came over from their booths to listen in to Williamson speak for a while. Williamson later went to talk with them.
“We need to emotionally and psychologically re-bond with the principles of the Declaration of Independence,” Williamson said. “The idea that all men are created equal. The idea that God gave all of us inalienable rights.”
For many Iowans, it was their first time seeing Williamson in person, though she has traveled the state a good deal this past year. Several were impressed.
“I thought she did pretty well in the debates,” Alex Mullins of Ames said. “The message she was trying to convey got a little misconstrued. But today, I think, was really eye-opening for us.”
“I think her spirituality is important,” Erica Iverra, also of Ames, who came with Mullins, said. “A lot of the way she thinks about things, how everything is connected. Bringing up the whole point of marijuana and legalizing it … talk about why people are trying it in the first place.”
The debate performance made her seem “a little fluffy” to Mullins and Iverra, but following Saturday’s town hall, not so much.
“In education, in maternal, paternal leave, in climate change, and abortion … I think it all connects,” Iverra said.
This was Mullins and Iverra’s first time seeing a presidential candidate in person this cycle, but they said they were looking forward to other candidates’ visits in the coming weeks.
“After today, she’s really a serious contender in our eyes,” Mullins said.
After watching her in the debate, Bernie Poore, a retired John Deere worker from Johnston, attended the Williamson event in Grimes.
“She has it right,” Poore said. “Her thoughts and background of what’s wrong with what the situation is and the seriousness of the situation, she has it right … The policies are only one part of it, the ability to get them across or to win an election is the golden key.”
Poore says he’s watching Elizabeth Warren most closely, but wonders if she, too, could beat Trump.
Most, of course, have her down as one of many potential options to caucus for at this point. Considering few knew who she was before the debate, that’s still an improvement.
“As a voter, obviously, it’s way too early and there are too many candidates, but for right now, if she can stay in it, I would definitely be interested in voting for her,” said Shaun Ahren, a landscaper from Ankeny. “I liked her message. I think we need to go deeper than the superficial stuff.”
by Jake Bullington and Pat Rynard
Photo by Julie Fleming