John Delaney believes his path to the presidency runs through rural Iowa.
Iowa is the first-in-the-nation caucus state, he said, because Iowans don’t pay any mind to what’s happening on CNN. Instead, they’re worried about the issues they talk about at the kitchen table, such as how they’ll pay their bills, whether they have enough food to eat and if their car is still running.
He’s counting on Iowans to do what they’re supposed to do and make up their own minds before the 2020 caucuses.
“I think voters in Iowa haven’t really broken from the national narrative and made their own independent decision yet,” Delaney said, during a recent weekend trip. “But, I think they will.”
His supporters have hope, too.
“Iowa has the capability of surprising the nation,” said West Des Moines resident and Delaney supporter Kim Lipshutz. “We’ve done it before. Carter came out of nowhere. Obama. It has happened before.”
That’s why she plans to stick with Delaney until the end.
Lipshutz has watched all the debates, but said they’re “totally fixed.”
“They’re only to get ratings,” she said. “It’s news entertainment.”
None of Lipshutz’s top candidates, including Delaney, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet or Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, have had much time on debate stages.
“I’m afraid that [Elizabeth] Warren and [Bernie] Sanders in particular — because they are the farthest left — are basically promising the world to Americans and there is no bank account that can pay for that,” Lipshutz said. “As I talk to my friends and neighbors, they would entertain voting for [Delaney], but not a Bernie or a Warren. They would entertain crossing that line into ‘moderateville’ to get rid of Trump, because they are disgusted by him, as a lot of Democrats are.”
On the campaign trail Sunday in Iowa, Delaney tried to convince voters he’s not only the moderate candidate, but also the practical one.
When a woman asked Delaney whether he’d support term limits, the former congressman said he would, but also explained what it’d take to establish them.
“We’d have to amend our Constitution,” Delaney said. “There are four things you want to amend the constitution for: one is to overturn Citizens United; one is to pass the Equal Rights Amendment Act; one is to put term limits in place; and one is to require a wealth tax.”
“What would be your preference?” Delaney asked.
He had the 30-some audience members raise their hands if they’d like to see one constitutional amendment pass over another. Overturning Citizens United won with a slight majority.
“I’m for all of them,” he said. “And as president, I would support a constitutional amendment on all of them. But I do want to make sure this Democratic nomination for president is about putting forth someone who can beat Trump, and putting forth someone who can actually get things done.”
While Delaney spends most of his time talking to voters about issues that concern them most — such as the future of rural hospitals — he also got quizzed by reporters on national news items.
During his most recent trip to the Hawkeye State, Delaney was asked whether he believed if Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter Biden, acted illegally when the younger of the two joined the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
“I think based on everything I’ve read, neither the Vice President nor his son did anything wrong. He didn’t break the law, didn’t violate any kind of code of conduct, or code of ethics, so I think ultimately that’s the most important thing,” Delaney said. “I always believe you should avoid the appearance of any impropriety, because even if you don’t break the law, or violate a code of conduct or code of ethics, you give people the ability to make stuff out of it, even if there’s no there, there. Which clearly, the president is going to do.”
In addition to lying, Delaney also accused the Trump Administration of running a two-front war on rural Iowa.
“The first front is this trade war with China. And the second front is these ethanol waivers,” Delaney said. “And I just don’t see in that environment how Iowa thrives. I think every acre in rural Iowa is worth less today than it was when Trump became president.”
Delaney also talked about his support of the Trans Pacific Partnership — he’s the only Democrat in the race to do so.
As the former congressman made his Iowa visit, word came out that he would be losing his campaign state director in Iowa. Delaney continues to sit at the bottom of most polling, and without being on the debate stage, opportunities to break out are limited.
Still, he’s forging on in the state, hopeful that his campaigning in rural Iowa will show both local Democrats and the broader party that he’s best suited to win the general election.
Lipschutz said she will “hold her nose” and vote for whoever the Democratic presidential nominee is because she’s determined to vote out Trump. Some of her friends, she said, won’t be convinced to vote for someone on the far left.
“We aren’t going to get that crossover vote — they’ll go for a third party,” she said. “I think most Iowans prefer a moderate.”
By Paige Godden
Photo by Julie Fleming