Two Democratic presidential campaigns collided in the hallway of the Hilton Garden Inn in Iowa City Thursday night outside of the Women Leaders Rising: 2020 Issue Forum.
Amy Klobuchar had just finished telling the group of over 100 women that she is a union champion and a daughter of the Midwest, while Kirsten Gillibrand was about to deliver some of the most feisty remarks she has made as a presidential candidate.
Before Klobuchar left the stage, she told the crowd to tell Gillibrand thank you for making sure the 9/11 health care bill was passed.
“I have been a big believer of women in leadership, and that’s because I’ve seen, one, how unfair it is, but I’ve also seen what great workers women are and how we look out for each other,” Klobuchar said. “That is true of the women in the Senate. You’re going to hear from my friend Kirsten Gillibrand coming up.”
“When she walks in, give her a big thanks because she just got that bill passed to make sure our 9/11 firefighter are taken care of,” Klobuchar said.
Gillibrand had heard the remarks Klobuchar made and thanked her before walking into the room full of female union members.
Gillibrand’s first question came from a woman who asked whether she supports women union workers.
“That was a softball, so I will hit it out of the park now,” Gillibrand said. “When you have a community that’s been organized, wages for everybody is 25 percent higher. It’s the effect of having a voice at the table with employers.”
“I think what’s happened here in Iowa is outrageous,” Gillibrand said. “The fact that you have a radically conservative legislature who doesn’t permit you to organize and collectively bargain on all aspects of your pay and compensation, you should definitely be able to collectively bargain on pay, on benefits, on healthcare and on retirement. As President, I would make it a federal law that you can organize and collectively bargain on all aspects of compensation in all 50 states.”
Gillibrand later said as President she will reward work in this country, which was built because unions created forty hour work weeks, weekends and minimum security standards for health and safety and minimum training standards.
“I will protect unions … I will fight for card check. I will make sure that work is rewarded. I will have a minimum wage of $15. I will get rid of tipped wage. I will index it to inflation. I will make sure all careers are covered,” Gillibrand said. “There are some careers you don’t even make minimum wage like home health aids and other careers. I would make sure everyone has a living wage that is constantly indexed for inflation.”
She went off on her male Democratic colleagues who don’t take the sexual harassment and abuse of women seriously and spoke about her work repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Then, she told the crowd she will win the Democratic nomination.
“People are going to tell you Kirsten can’t win. She’s only at x percent. She can’t win. It’s impossible. Really? Try me,” Gillibrand said. “I will be the Democratic nominee. I will defeat President Trump. I will win states like Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin because they’re very like upstate New York, and I win more Republican districts than any other Democrat who’s ever run statewide in New York State, including President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Trump himself.”
“I just won back 18 Trump counties. So, if you tell me it’s impossible to defeat President Trump and win back the seats he just won, I’m going to get it done,” Gillibrand said. “I will be your next President of the United States.”
Earlier in the evening, Klobuchar laid out her own path to victory.
“If we want to beat Donald Trump, we have to win in states like Minnesota,” Klobuchar said. “This week he sent out a tweet that said he’s going to win Minnesota, and I said, ‘not if I have anything to do with it.’”
“We have to win Minnesota and Wisconsin. We lost Wisconsin last time. And Michigan and Iowa, Ohio,” Klobuchar said. “I get things done. I passed over 100 bills in the Senate where I’ve been the lead Democrat and I think that matters.”
The Minnesota Senator won the audience’s applause when she told them her grandfather was an iron ore miner and a union member. Her father, a newspaper man and a union member. Her mother, a teacher and a union member.
“No matter where you came from, no matter who you are, no matter who you love, no matter the color of your skin, you can make it in this country and you make it the best when you’ve got a union at your back,” Klobuchar said.
She told the crowd she will fight for a $15/hour federal minimum wage, make it easier to pay for college and pharmaceuticals and make it easier for people to retire. Women tend to live longer, but they also tend to take time off work to raise their kids so they have less social security, Klobuchar said. She will fix that, too,
“I have your back,” Klobuchar said. “I do.”
by Paige Godden