With his week-long trek across Iowa during State Fair week, John Delaney is making efforts to reach out to rural voters in conservative areas.
Today, Delaney and his Iowa team was in Pella, Iowa for an ambitious task: knock the door of every Democrat in town in one day. Even in a heavily-conservative town like Pella, that’s an undertaking.
During his remarks, Delaney focused on solving problems with solutions that will work. “Real plans, not impossible promises,” he said.
By coming to smaller towns in conservative areas of Iowa, Delaney said he wanted to reach voters everywhere because he’s running to represent everyone.
“I think my strategy is really simple: Run on commonsense stuff. Run on real solutions,” Delaney said. “We’ve gotta run on stuff that we believe 67 percent of the American people at their kitchen table can say, ‘Yeah, I agree with that.’”
Pella is the largest town in Marion County, where Donald Trump won 62.3 percent of the vote in 2016.
Campaign staffers said the team had about 1,300 doors to knock in Pella, and they’d done some phone calls into the area ahead of time.
Delaney’s event didn’t only attract Democrats, either.
Marlin Bristor, who lives in nearby Knoxville, is a registered Independent, and has been for all the years he’s lived in Iowa.
Originally from Minnesota, Bristor said his favorite candidate is Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar because he said she thinks like he does.
But he said Delaney said a lot of things he agreed with, particularly about health care, gun control and Delaney’s plan for mandatory national service.
Delaney is the fourth candidate he’s seen in person and he said he’d like to see more.
“I think they need to get out to these rural areas more than the cities,” he said. “People aren’t going to fall for [Trump’s lies] this time.”
But the important part is making the case for why people should support Democrats.
Delaney said he thinks the right message can win across the country, so he wants to spread the ideas he thinks more Americans can be on board with.
“We run on stuff that 20 percent of the American people support, you know, real loud voices in the Democratic party, yeah, they’ll love it, but once you get to the general election, there’s no way,” he said. “That’s the path we’re headed down on some of this stuff.”
Delaney has been a vocal critic of the idea of Medicare for All because he said it takes away people’s choice to choose the coverage they want to have. His main criticism is that several candidates’ plans for Medicare for All would eliminate private insurance.
“My strategy is to run on things that are workable, that I can tell people how I’ll pay for them and I can explain to people how I can make them happen,” Delaney said. “Because I think Americans are just so frustrated that we talk about this stuff and none of it ever happens. So, I think my audience is actually people who like good ideas that work, that I can pay for, and that they can see actually happening.”
He said this was a key way to win over voters in these conservative areas of the country. He brought up J.D. Scholten, who announced today that he would again run against Steve King in Iowa’s conservative 4th congressional district, as an example of progressive messages winning conservative areas. Scholten won 47 percent of the vote, coming close to King, who only won 50.4 percent of voters.
Another reason to visit conservative areas, Delaney said, is to listen to criticism and grow as a candidate.
“I believe you have to talk to voters who don’t agree with you all the time. I think that makes you a better leader,” he said. “I used to have this expression in business that goes as follows: You’re supposed to run at criticism. When you go with the people who disagree with you, you actually learn a lot.”
Bristor said the key to changing minds in a conservative area is patience. He said he’s had to correct people who use the N-word in public and talk to people about why he believes what he does.
“You just try to slowly change people,” he said.
by Nikoel Hytrek