New Iowa caucus thread: Jeb Bush exploring and a "Run Warren Run" event in Des Moines

Who’s up for a new thread on possible presidential candidates? The big news on the Republican side today was former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announcing that he will "actively explore" a presidential bid. Bush is forming a leadership PAC to raise huge piles of money "help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation."

I can’t see Bush winning the GOP nomination, given his past support for immigration reform including a path to citizenship. Among Iowa conservatives, his support for “Common Core” educational standards will be a deal-breaker too. On the other hand, Bush poses an immediate threat to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The two would be competing for many of the same donors and Republican moderate voters.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s staff says Bush’s decision won’t influence Rubio’s plans for 2016. I am 100 percent convinced that Florida’s junior senator will run for re-election. He has pretty good odds of winning a second term but would be a long-shot to win the presidential nomination.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (technically an independent) was in central Iowa today. I’ve posted excerpts from news coverage after the jump. It’s Sanders’ fourth Iowa visit this year, but he told a supportive Ames crowd he hasn’t decided whether to run for president.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren continues to repeat that she is not running for president in 2016. But MoveOn.Org’s “Run Warren Run” project is organizing an event at Java Joe’s coffee house in downtown Des Moines. Some central Iowa Democrats received phone calls from MoveOn today inviting them to the pro-Warren event, which is set for 5:30 pm on Wednesday, December 17.

I still think the draft Warren effort is a waste of time and energy. Apparently, so does progressive hero Al Franken. Minnesota’s junior U.S. senator is “ready for Hillary” Clinton:

“I mean, I think that we’ve not had someone this experienced, this tough, and she’s very, very impressive. People have asked me about Elizabeth Warren. She is great, but she’s not running. She says she’s not running. So I don’t-I think Hillary would be great.”

Any comments about the next presidential campaign are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Democracy for America announced on December 17 that it will invest $250,000 in the Draft Warren effort. I’ve added the group’s press release at the end of this post. Run Warren Run ran a full-page ad in the Des Moines Register on December 17, featuring hundreds of Iowans who are urging the Massachusetts senator to run for president.

Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum attended the “Run Warren Run” event in Des Moines and called Warren “brilliant” and “courageous.” But Jochum is not endorsing Warren over Hillary Clinton and hopes the Democratic field will include both women, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and others.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

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Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama’s administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can’t say I wasn’t warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year’s political events are welcome in this thread.

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Harkin serves up health care promise at Steak Fry

Senator Tom Harkin told a crowd of nearly 2,000 people today that health care reform including a public health insurance option will pass before this Christmas. Speaking at his 32nd Annual Steak Fry in Indianola, Harkin joked,

“This is my kind of town-hall meeting,” […] because he didn’t see any Republicans standing up to say, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

Harkin and event headliner Al Franken predicted that health care reform would pass with some Republican votes, which seems unlikely if the final version of the bill contains a public option. Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine has been the focus of White House courting on health care, but she opposes a public option, apparently because it has the potential to provide lower-cost health insurance.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions passed a bill this summer containing a public option, but according to one critic, the HELP bill’s public option is anything but robust:

the actual provisions in the HELP Committee bill call for numerous “community health insurance options,” not the single “Medicare-like” plan promised by “public option” advocates. That means the individual “options” will probably be as small and weak as the co-ops now under discussion in the Senate Finance Committee. More importantly, these “community options” will almost certainly be run by insurance companies.

The public option in the bill that cleared the House Energy and Commerce Committee, HR 3200, is also weak in several respects.

President Barack Obama met with 17 relatively conservative Democratic senators on Thursday, reinforcing many people’s fears that he was ready to discard the public option. The same day, Harkin assured the Progressive Populist blog that 51 votes can be found in the Senate for a bill with a public option.

So what about all the hubub about the Blue Dogs and/or Progressives opting out if the bill doesn’t meet their liking? Harkin said don’t put too much stock in those statements.

“Look, around here people are always jockeying for power. That’s all this is,” Harkin said.

The only chance of making this bill stronger, in my opinion, is getting a large bloc of House Democrats to draw a line in the sand. If you live in Iowa’s first, second or third Congressional districts, please contact Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack or Leonard Boswell to urge them not to accept any bill containing a “trigger” (which is guaranteed to fail) or some other fake public health insurance option. Organizing for America has a new petition out if you prefer that method of generating an e-mail to your member of Congress.

UPDATE: Don’t miss John Deeth’s entertaining liveblog from this event, with lots of photos. Braley and Loebsack praised Boswell for standing up for a public option (unlike many Blue Dogs).

From Chase Martyn’s write-up at Iowa Independent:

Boswell and fellow Democratic U.S. Reps. Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack also expressed optimism that a final bill would include measures to reform medicare reimbursement rates. Medicare currently pays doctors in rural states like Iowa less than what doctors in densely populated states receive for the same procedures.

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Events coming up this weekend and next week

This weekend is packed with good events for Iowa progressives. If you love books, make your way to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale in the 4-H building at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Admission is free; the sale is open from 9-9 Friday and Saturday and from 9-6 Sunday and Monday. The sale offers great deals on books, DVDs, prints, comics, and music, especially on Sunday, when everything is half-price, and on Monday, when everything left is 25 cents.

Proceeds support Planned Parenthood’s education programs, which you can learn more about here.

Incidentally, Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa recently merged with Planned Parenthood of Nebraska/Council Bluffs to form a new affiliate called Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

The Iowa Renewable Energy Association’s annual Energy and Sustainability Expo takes place in Norway Saturday and Sunday. There’s so much to learn at the I-RENEW expos.

On Sunday, Senator Al Franken (cartographer extraordinaire) will headline Senator Tom Harkin’s 32nd Annual Steak Fry. The event will be at the Warren County Fairgrounds from 1 pm to 4 pm. Click here for more info and to buy tickets.

Follow me after the jump for details on many other events coming up soon.

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