Iowans flocked to the Des Moines Register Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair for the first time this election cycle Thursday afternoon.
While the soapbox is a popular place for Iowa Democrats to gather, they said it’s not necessarily the be-all and end-all for the 20-some field of candidates.
“I’m not going to make a final decision off this unless lightning strikes,” said Don Ruby of St. Marys. “It’s just part of the vetting process.”
Montana Governor Steve Bullock was the first 2020 Democratic candidate to appear on the soapbox.
He appealed to the crowd by telling them of his great-great grandparents who settled in Henry County and his mother, who was born in Ottumwa.
Bullock promised he’d be a better leader than President Donald Trump because he would reject the behavior the President is normalizing.
“We expect more out of our preschoolers now than the President of the United States,” he said.
Bullock explained to voters why he’s the Democrat who can beat Trump. He was the only Democrat in 2016 to get reelected to a statewide office in a red state where Trump won, he said.
That kind of electability is what Ruby said he is looking for in a candidate.
“What I’m trying to determine is electability. Pure and Simple,” Ruby said. “On the issues, they are basically pretty much the same, it’s just the degree of how fast we get there.”
Overall, Ruby said he likes Medicare for All, but he’s concerned the Democrats are going to overthrow all of the good things Obamacare has done in the past few years.
“If we do a public option and slowly move to Medicare for All, that’s fine with me,” Ruby said. “The issue is — what’s going to get me — is can we elect the guy?”
“Bullock makes a strong case for why he’s electable,” Ruby said. “I like what I’ve heard from him so far.”
Off the soapbox
Bullock ran into former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod while making his way around the fair. They spoke for a few minutes in front of the giant ferris wheel.
Bullock later played a game of Skee ball and cast a vote at WHO-TV’s Cast Your Kernel poll before he went on the soapbox.
His three children would later do the same.
by Paige Godden
Photo by Julie Fleming