If you’re not already signed up for Iowa Starting Line’s email newsletters, go sign up here. They’re meant as a roundup of quick hits of Iowa politics news, but sometimes I get carried away with some sections and write a lot. This morning’s was long enough I figured we may as well also put it into a story, so here you go:
A Candidate That Gets It
The Monday evening Iowa Senate debate seems like a lifetime ago already, but there was a point we ran out of time to write up in a story on it: Theresa Greenfield showed up as a fighter in a way that many Iowa Democratic candidates often have not.
The tense back-and-forth between Greenfield and Ernst ended up being nothing compared to the presidential “debate,” but the intensity still surprised some Iowa watchers. Both candidates lobbed a barrage of criticisms at one another, often talking over each other on their preferred issue, regardless of what the actual question was.
But here’s the nice, refreshing thing about Greenfield’s performance: she gets what it takes to be a high-profile candidate in 2020.
Had she just prepared for the debate in a safe, make-no-news manner, Ernst would have bulldozed her given how she came to the table. Both candidates got in their talking points and hits, and the debate didn’t seem to significantly move the race — that’s a major benefit for Greenfield, who is leading right now. And a respectable draw is often the best you can hope for in these chaotic debates, but you won’t even get that if you don’t prepare like Greenfield did.
Forcefully make your points. Don’t let your opponent talk over you. Get in your hits regardless of the question. Give no ground on any attack.
Democrats who think that their candidates should win debates with some sort of West Wing-style witty repartee that will shame their opponents are living in a fairy-tale past that doesn’t exist. High-profile campaigns in the year 2020 are a brawl, and if you’re not prepared to fight that battle, you’re doing your party a disservice. A couple other Iowa candidates could learn from Greenfield’s approach.
No, It’s Not Normal, Governor
Let’s talk about another Iowa Democrat that gets it.
After Donald Trump’s unhinged debate performance on Tuesday night, Gov. Kim Reynolds tweeted out the following:
“In these unprecedented times, America needs a strong, decisive leader like President @realDonaldTrump! Tonight President Trump pledged his continued support for our military, our veterans, and law enforcement. That’s how we keep our nation strong, safe, and secure the future.”
Trump literally personally directed a violent white supremacist group from the national stage to “stand by” after refusing to condemn racists. It was disgusting and dangerous, but the only thought that seemed to go through Reynolds’ head was, “Trump is the Republican nominee. I am a Republican. Therefore, I must tweet praise for his performance.”
It’s possible to just not say anything, you know? Like how many of the congressional Republicans were silent during it (Ashley Hinson started to live tweet the debate, then clammed up pretty quick as it went off the rails).
Abby Finkenauer called out Reynolds on it, tweeting “He wouldn’t condemn white supremacist and told ‘proud boys’ to ‘stand by.’ Don’t pretend this is normal” at the Governor.
In a traditional view of politics, Finkenauer doesn’t need to pick that fight with Reynolds. But in a realistic view of what’s actually happening in American politics right now, every elected leader who cares about democracy needs to be forcefully speaking out against the wannabee dictator and his enablers like Reynolds.
This is not normal. American democracy may literally cease to exist if Trump wins (and he’ll try to end it if he doesn’t). Reynolds is enabling a racist authoritarian by mindlessly going along with what’s always done in politics. People gotta speak out about that.
In future years, Iowa Democrats may want to remember which of their leaders grasped the seriousness of our times and which just kept their heads down.
by Pat Rynard
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