The Iowa Caucuses are a week away, and candidates for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations are out in force, rallying their supporters and trying to make sure they caucus next Monday. Democratic front runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders held a combined 13 campaign events this weekend, mostly in eastern Iowa.
At the Vernon Middle School in Marion Sunday, more than 600 people squeezed into the cafeteria to see Clinton. Organizers say the tight fit was due in part to rearranging the stage a bit so the former Secretary of State could be closer to the crowd instead of behind a podium. Clinton, dressed in red, spent the first ten minutes setting herself apart from her Republican rivals.
“You know, they don’t agree we need to raise the minimum wage, they don’t believe equal pay is a problem,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t know who they are talking to I see them on television in rooms smaller than this where they are talking to people and I wonder if they just hired a bunch of actors and move them from place to place.”
Clinton really had nothing disparaging to say about her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders. In fact, she says she respects his idea for affordable health care, but disagrees with him that the current plan should be scrapped.
Many of Clinton’s comments drew cheers and thunderous applause, but the mood changed she talked about the day she was in the so-called war room as soldiers prepared to kill Osama Bin Laden. She ended the rally with the assurance that because she has been in those situations, she can make tough decisions.
“I promise you as Commander in Chief, I will safeguard the interests of our country. I will keep us safe here at home and work with our allies across the world to enhance our security against terrorist networks, and I will take care of our women and men in uniform which is a very scared obligation sacred obligation.”
Clinton’s remarks struck a chord with 61-year-old Cynthia Snider, who brought her daughter and granddaughters to the event. She says she believes Hillary is the right person for the job.
“It’s very important to me as a lifelong Democrat that we maintain the White House and our sanity in national government,” Snider said.
Clinton had three more stops Sunday night and has several more Monday before the town hall-style forum at Drake University in Des Moines.
Sanders says he's electable
One-hundred five miles from Marion, at Luther College in Decorah, Bernie Sanders packed the school’s basketball arena with an estimated 23-hundred supporters Sunday afternoon. He told them that with eight days to go before the Iowa caucuses, he was feeling good about his chances against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“That any objective assessment of our campaign…Secretary Clinton’s campaign and our campaign..would suggest that the energy, the enthusiasm, is with our campaign,” he said.
Sanders says he has thousands of volunteers working for his campaign, knocking on doors and making phone calls to drum up support and persuade people to participate in the caucus next week. He says his campaign has received more than two-and-a-half million individual contributions, averaging $27. Sanders calls that a sign that a lot of people are behind his argument that he won’t be beholden to special interests.
And, he says, he is electable, referring to a number of polls that suggest he would be more successful against Republican Donald Trump than Clinton would in a head-to-head matchup.
“Right here in Iowa, which by the way, is not only the first state in the country to have caucus, it is also a battleground state,” Sanders said. “We’re not sure how it is going to go. Here in Iowa, Secretary Clinton beat Trump by eight points, we beat him by 13 points.”
Sanders was referring to an NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll released two weeks ago.
Sanders’ hour-long speech hit all of his major themes, like making education affordable, creating a single-payer healthcare system, and getting big money out of government. He says that’s behind a lot of the middle class’ problems today.
“Is that you have a government today that is significantly controlled by big money interests and politicians who worry about their campaign contributions, and not about the middle class and working families,” he said.
It’s a message that resonates with supporters.
“Because of his stance on campaign finance, and big money in government,” said David Meighan or Sumner, who was among those in attendance.
Sanders says the key to victory a week from today is a big turnout at the caucuses by people who feel forgotten by the country’s leaders.