A brief history on why Iowa’s caucuses matter to the presidential nominating process. Jason Noble, firstname.lastname@example.org
WATERLOO, Ia. — It’s not easy to make your pitch to Democratic caucusgoers in 15 minutes, but that’s what seven candidates did Saturday.
Each of the presidential hopefuls invited to the 1st District Democrats Passport to Victory event was given a short period of time to introduce themselves to voters who call northeast Iowa home. Candidates covered a gamut of issues that have defined the presidential race so far: climate change, public education, universal health care and defeating President Donald Trump.
Saturday’s event was one of five the 1st District Democrats are hosting to introduce candidates to caucusgoers living in the district’s 20 counties. The first was in Cresco in June.
The candidates in Waterloo were: Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, and former Rep. Joe Sestak from Pennsylvania.
Here’s a look at what they said:
Ryan spoke of his education plan, which he said shifts the focus from test scores to “taking care of kids coming into classrooms every day.” He proposes putting a mental health counselor in every public school and including social and emotional learning in daily curricula.
“If you take care of the kid, the test scores will come,” Ryan said.
The congressman’s plan, unveiled in Iowa last week, calls for a $50 billion investment in America’s schools, on top of a $100 billion investment in school infrastructure as part of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act.
Bennet, who served as Denver schools superintendent for five years, also wants to improve the public education system by providing universal pre-kindergarten and debt-free college, teaching high school students the skills needed to earn a living wage, and increasing teacher pay.
“Today in this country, our public education system is reinforcing income inequality,” Bennet said.
…on climate change
It will take every country in the world — led by the United States — to combat climate change, Sestak said. He supports the Green New Deal, but said the reality is that such a plan “won’t matter alone.”
“Even if we were to achieve the mission, the great vision of the Green New Deal, in a decade, even then, it just won’t matter alone,” Sestak said. “It’s only 15 percent of all the global greenhouse emissions required to solve that catastrophic threat before it explodes on us.”
That’s why Sestak said the U.S. must rejoin the Paris Agreement, an international treaty aimed at global warming. Trump has announced the U.S. will withdraw from the accord in 2020.
Klobuchar said she would rejoin the agreement and bring back the Clean Power Plan created by the Obama Administration.
Buttigieg proposed investing in proper soil management in rural America as a way to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. He pledged to increase research and development in soil development, carbon storage and renewable energy.
…on health care
Klobuchar highlighted her recently released plan on senior care, which would tackle Alzheimer’s disease, lower prescription drug costs, protect rural hospitals and improve Social Security and Medicare.
Her plan includes the creation of financial incentives for local health care providers to train and support family members who are caring for an Alzheimer’s patient and a $6,000 tax credit to assist with caregiver expenses.
She promised to find a treatment or a cure by 2025.
“That is what I’m going to work on as your president,” Klobuchar said.
De Blasio said his desire for universal health care stems from his father’s struggle with mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder. His father struggled to adjust after returning home from World War II with a partially amputated leg — before health care providers ever had a name for PTSD, de Blasio said.
His father killed himself decades later.
“We’ve got to bring (mental health) out in the open, and we’ve got to talk about it. We’ve got to be honest about it,” de Blasio said. “… I think it’s a way of honoring him to try to fight for veterans, but to also fight for health care for everyone.”
He highlighted the NYC Care Card he recently unveiled in New York City, which will pay the health care insurance costs for 600,000 city residents who do not have coverage.
…on defeating Trump
A caucusgoer asked why so many rural and working-class voters lean Republican. Delaney pointed to a “broken political system” that fails to get basic things done, like building infrastructure, improving public education and creating a living wage for all.
Delaney noted that people vote for candidates who align with just some of their values, such as protecting the Second Amendment.
“If we put workers first, these voters in rural America, they’re going to line up to vote for us,” he said. “Because that’s what they need.”
Buttigieg cited the failure of administrations — both Republican and Democrat — to protect jobs and workers. He said his “value-driven, results-led politics” can bring those voters to the party.
“Americans have this way of always wanting the opposite of what they just had in the White House — that’s how you get Reagan after Carter, Obama after Bush,” Buttigieg said. “I would argue, you can’t get any (more) opposite from the current president than a guy like me.”
Passport to Victory schedule
- Aug. 10 — Central City
- Sept. 22 — Grinnell
- Oct. 19 — Elkader
More information: idp1st.org/passport-to-victory
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