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Weekend open thread: Iowa State Fair heckling edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 23, 2015 at 12:34:24 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Saturday was the final day for politicians to speak at the Des Moines Register's Iowa State Fair "soapbox." You can view all of this year's videos here. Heckling was the running theme from yesterday's appearances. O.Kay Henderson summarized the incidents at Radio Iowa.

I have zero sympathy for Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, whom protesters repeatedly interrupted to demand more Democratic presidential debates. Wasserman-Schultz had nothing new to say on the soapbox--certainly nothing as newsworthy as the DNC's asinine policy limiting the presidential candidates to only six sanctioned debates, with the threat of exclusion if they participate in any unsanctioned ones. The DNC's position serves no public interest whatsoever. It only creates the appearance of the party establishment putting a thumb on the scale for current front-runner Hillary Clinton. All Democrats, including Clinton, could benefit from starting the debates before October. In sharp contrast to the Donald Trump freak show dominating the other side's discourse, Democrats have five (perhaps soon to be six) candidates who can talk intelligently about policy.

A group of protesters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals provided some drama by storming the soapbox while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was taking questions. Tactics like those make PETA one of the most ineffective advocacy organizations I've seen. Christie deserves criticism for vetoing a New Jersey ban on gestation crates for sows, which passed with massive bipartisan support. But PETA only managed to generate sympathy for the governor. He came up with a great line after law enforcement pulled the animal rights activists off-stage:

"I have to tell you the truth when something like that happens and I'm here in Iowa, man, I feel right at home. It feels like I'm back in Jersey for a couple of minutes, so thank you, Iowa, for doing that," Christie said to cheers from the crowd.

On the other hand, a little heckling that doesn't go over the top can throw a candidate off his or her game. The best example was the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member who got Mitt Romney to say, "Corporations are people, my friend," at the 2011 Iowa State Fair. Democrats across the country eagerly made use of Romney's gaffe. Within a matter of weeks, though, Iowa CCI members' heckling of Senator Chuck Grassley at a town-hall in Carroll drew criticism from Iowa Democratic Party leaders for going too far.

Politically engaged people tend to have strong feelings about what kinds of protests are appropriate. Pat Rynard used unusually harsh language to condemn the activists who disrupted Wasserman-Schultz's speech. John Deeth has long expressed contempt for Iowa CCI's "counterproductive" tactics. Though I've never heckled a politician at a public event, my take on what I viewed as the Iowa Democratic Party's "hippie-punching" of Iowa CCI generated one of the most heated comment threads in Bleeding Heartland's eight-year history.

When, if ever, do you think heckling is a justified and/or effective political tactic?

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Some big 2008 Obama supporters on new list of Iowa Women for Hillary

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 11:19:29 AM CDT

Today Hillary Clinton's campaign released names of "nearly 200 women from all of Iowa's 99 counties including nearly two dozen State Legislators, County Chairs and local elected officials" who support Clinton's presidential bid. I've enclosed the full list after the jump. Many of these women also backed Clinton for president before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, such as former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell, former State Senator Staci Appel, and Ruth Harkin.

Nine women currently serving in the Iowa House are on the Iowa Women for Hillary list: State Representatives Marti Anderson, Timi Brown-Powers, Abby Finkenauer, Ruth Ann Gaines, Vicki Lensing, Mary Mascher, Jo Oldson, Sally Stutsman, and Phyllis Thede. Lensing and Mascher were among 21 state lawmakers who backed Clinton before the 2008 caucuses. Oldson was also in the legislature then; to my knowledge, she did not endorse a candidate before the 2008 caucuses. I am seeking confirmation and will update as needed.

The others were not in the state legislature in 2007, but Anderson and then Johnson County Supervisor Stutsman were high-profile supporters of Clinton's campaign. Thede and Gaines were county leaders for Obama. I don't know whether Finkenauer and Brown-Powers were active volunteers for any of the presidential campaigns that year. UPDATE: Brown-Powers told me that she caucused for Obama but was not active in the campaign.

Two current Iowa Senate Democrats are on the new Iowa Women for Hillary list: Janet Petersen backed Obama in 2007, as a member of the Iowa House. Liz Mathis was not a state lawmaker that year, and I am not aware of her publicly endorsing a candidate.

State Representatives Cindy Winckler and Beth Wessel-Kroeschell endorsed Clinton as Iowa House members in 2007 but have not done so this year. I am seeking comment from both on whether they have picked a different candidate, are undecided, or plan not to endorse before the 2016 caucuses.

Like Gaines and Thede, several other women on today's press release were among the Obama campaign's county leaders in 2007, such as Peggy Bramman (Delaware County), Clara Oleson (Cedar County), and Debbie Gitchell and Jan Bauer (Story County).

I got a kick out of seeing Bauer's name, because earlier this year, she told the Washington Post that she was "waiting to see how aggressively pursued I am" before picking a candidate. Bleeding Heartland cited that comment as an unfortunate example of prairie prima donna behavior, which hurts the Iowa caucuses.

The best-known onetime John Edwards supporter on the new Women for Hillary list is Roxanne Conlin, a former U.S. attorney and Democratic nominee for governor and U.S. Senate. She came out for Clinton a few months ago.

Two other prominent Iowa women who weren't on today's press release are worth noting as once-dedicated Obama supporters backing Clinton for president in 2016. Jackie Norris was an early Obama campaign staffer in 2007 and ran Obama's 2008 general election campaign in Iowa. Early last year, she showed up for the "Ready for Hillary" super PAC's first event in this state. Former Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky announced in June that she will be helping Clinton's campaign build support for next year's caucuses.

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Hillary Clinton vows to reshuffle "stacked" deck in new Iowa tv ad

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 17:00:00 PM CDT

Hillary Clinton's campaign announced today that a third television commercial will be added to the mix in an extensive five-week advertising buy in Iowa and New Hampshire. Bleeding Heartland covered the first two Clinton ads here. After the jump I've enclosed the video of the new commercial, along with an annotated transcript.

The Clinton campaign's press release noted, "The ad's message echoes a major theme of Clinton's campaign. In a key policy speech delivered last month in New York, Clinton declared that increasing middle-class incomes was the defining economic challenge of our time, and would be her chief pursuit as president." You can watch clips from that speech here or read a summary of its proposals here. Eduardo Porter concluded that several of Clinton's ideas "have a solid track record of research on their side," but the package would not be enough to compensate for social insurance policies that put the U.S. "behind the community of advanced nations in building a society that could cope with the harsh new global economy."

Clinton used similar language about the deck being stacked against working Americans during her speech to last Friday's Wing Ding in Clear Lake. Click here to read the full transcript of that speech.

The new commercial strikes me as another strong effort, but I still feel that if a campaign has $2 million to spend on tv ads in August before the election year, they should be paying their full-time interns. Incidentally, I was impressed by the passionate, committed Clinton "fellows" I met before the Wing Ding.

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Joe Biden presidential run speculation thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 18, 2015 at 11:34:01 AM CDT

Since late July, Vice President Joe Biden and his advisers have been touching base with Democrats about a possible presidential run. While on vacation this week, Biden has reportedly been "calling old friends and potential allies to discuss the possibilities and problems of jumping into the Democratic presidential race." A recent Gallup poll of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic found that 45 percent want Biden to run for president, while 47 percent do not. Even as a non-candidate, Biden is averaging about 11 percent in national polls of Democrats.

Writing in USA Today, Susan Page explained why Biden could be a fallback for establishment Democrats "who are uneasy about Hillary Clinton" because of continuing controversy over her use of e-mail as secretary of state. Strategist Joe Trippi told Page that a Biden campaign "would completely alter the Democratic primary fight," splitting the establishment vote and giving Bernie Sanders a big boost.

It's hard for me to imagine Biden beating Clinton in the primaries. Nor do I see the e-mail scandals causing her candidacy to "implode," as Chris Matthews suggested yesterday on MSNBC's Hardball. That doesn't mean Biden won't roll the dice on getting his name on the ballot, just in case. A presidential campaign can be exhausting even under the best of circumstances, and I can't imagine keeping up that kind of schedule while coping with a devastating bereavement. But Biden loves public speaking and working a room, so he might find some solace in running for president again. Iowa Democrats are generally fond of Biden and would welcome his presence here, even if they were sticking with other candidates.

Former Senator Tom Harkin endorsed Clinton late last week and spent much of Saturday with her at the Iowa State Fair. Many observers suggested the patriarch of Iowa Democrats weighed in at this time to send Biden a signal. Yesterday Harkin told MSNBC that Clinton is "doing everything right," meeting voters in person and running a great campaign organization. Harkin also asserted that as he gets around Iowa, "people here are not talking about those e-mails. I don't get where this is coming from." Harkin added, "What this calls for right now is Hillary Clinton, it's time for a woman - it's past time, as a matter of fact - for a woman president." Asked specifically whether Biden will run for president, Harkin suggested the Democratic presidential field is "set." Click here to watch the whole interview.

This thread is for any scenario spinning about Biden's plans or the Democratic presidential campaigns. After the jump I've enclosed excerpts from Harkin's op-ed for the Des Moines Register explaining why he supports Clinton.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa Wing Ding edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 16, 2015 at 15:37:38 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

More than twenty Iowa Democratic county committees put on a great "Wing Ding" in Clear Lake Friday night. The Surf Ballroom was packed to capacity, thanks to appearances by four of the five Democratic presidential hopefuls. Despite a fairly long list of speakers including candidates for U.S. House and Senate and State Senator Amanda Ragan, who was receiving an award, the Wing Ding amazingly finished ahead of schedule. I enclose below my take on all the speeches.

For those following the saga of three former Ron Paul campaign operatives, recently indicted for their role in making illegal payments to then State Senator Kent Sorenson: Russ Choma covered the prosecutors' latest court filing for Mother Jones. Prosecutors allege the operatives "were prepared to leak documents to harm Sorenson in 2012 if they couldn't obtain his endorsement for Ron Paul." An attorney for Jesse Benton acknowledged that in late 2011, his client "threatened to expose Mr. Sorenson, believing that Mr. Sorenson was trying to blackmail the 2012 RP Campaign, if Mr. Sorenson did not make up his mind on whether to commit to the Ron Paul Campaign." But the lawyer said Benton did not follow through on what he described as "a knee-jerk, emotional reaction." Of course, there would have been no reason to carry out the threat after Sorenson agreed to take the money in exchange for switching his allegiance to Paul.

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Five shocking findings from Public Policy Polling's latest Iowa survey

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 11, 2015 at 19:58:05 PM CDT

Public Policy Polling released its latest Iowa caucus numbers yesterday. As other recent surveys of Iowa Democrats have shown, Hillary Clinton still leads by a considerable margin, but her lead has shrunk since the spring, as Iowans have learned more about other contenders. PPP now has Clinton at 52 percent support among "usual Democratic primary voters," while Bernie Sanders has 25 percent, Martin O'Malley 7 percent, Jim Webb 3 percent, and Lincoln Chafee 1 percent.

On the GOP side, Donald Trump leads among "usual Republican primary voters" with 19 percent, followed by Ben Carson and Scott Walker (12 percent each), Jeb Bush (11 percent), Carly Fiorina (10 percent), Ted Cruz (9 percent), Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio (6 percent each), John Kasich and Rand Paul (3 percent each), Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum (2 percent each), Chris Christie (1 percent), and Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki (less than 1 percent).

Dropping to 3 percent earned Paul the "biggest loser" title from Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen and was the only topline result that shocked me. Things got way more interesting in the cross-tabs. I enclose below the five findings that struck me most.

As a bonus, I added at the end of this post completely unsurprising numbers from PPP's survey of registered Iowa voters: Governor Terry Branstad is underwater with 42 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval. Last month's high-profile line-item vetoes are even less popular.

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Mother, family are themes of Hillary Clinton's first tv ads in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 04, 2015 at 21:32:56 PM CDT

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign started running two 60-second television commercials today in Iowa and New Hampshire. An August 2 press release noted,

These ads are part of an initial five-week, approximately $1 million ad buy in each state plus additional digital advertising. In New Hampshire, the ads will run statewide - in the Boston/Manchester market and in the Burlington market. In Iowa, the ads will air in the state's two largest media markets - Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. As of today, Republican candidates and their SuperPACS have spent or reserved $34 million in air time in the four early primary states.

I enclose below the videos for "Dorothy" and "Family Strong," with my annotated transcripts.

The commercials are strong, but I have to say: if you can afford to spend $2 million on tv ads in August (and Clinton can, having raised $47,549,799.64 for her campaign between April 1 and June 30), then you should have paid your full-time summer interns--sorry, "fellows."

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Weekend open thread: Implausible Hillary Clinton narratives edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 02, 2015 at 11:49:58 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? Ten days after the New York Times published a train wreck of an exclusive about Hillary Clinton's e-mails, the fallout continues. Kurt Eichenwald walked through many factual errors and "fundamentally deceptive" frames in the report about a "criminal referral" that never existed. The Times' Public Editor Margaret Sullivan dug into how a story "fraught with inaccuracies" ended up on the front page. Matt Purdy, the "top-ranking editor involved with the story," told Sullivan, "We got it wrong because our very good sources had it wrong." New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet suggested the mistakes "may have been unavoidable."

Really? No chance you got played by "very good sources" who are out to get Hillary Clinton? It wouldn't be the first time. Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, made a strong case that the Times fell for a familiar "ploy" of letting partisan anonymous sources "mischaracterize" documents reporters have not seen. The Clinton campaign's official response is devastating, which may be why Baquet refused to publish it.

Some mistakes are inevitable when covering current events on a tight deadline, but thankfully, few political writers will ever commit malpractice on this scale. Aspiring journalists everywhere should study the cautionary tale. I liked Josh Marshall's "thought experiment" for reporters "about to publish a big piece or something a lot rides on":

Pretend that the story blows up in your face. And you have to explain to me or your editor what went wrong. If you're the reporter in that case, you take your lumps but when you have that conversation, you really want to be able to say and explain how you covered every base, checked every box on the list and it still went wrong. When you go through that exercise it often makes you think of some box that hasn't been checked that you really want to have checked if you find yourself in a real version of that hypothetical conversation.

I hope the Times will assign Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt to different beats, because they have lost all credibility to report on Clinton.

This post is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Pella Electric Cooperative trying to discourage customers from installing solar or wind

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 27, 2015 at 18:01:32 PM CDT

Solar power made big news in Iowa today, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in Des Moines about ambitious goals for installing solar panels. In a forthcoming post, Bleeding Heartland will compare the Democratic presidential candidates' proposals to combat climate change by increasing renewable energy production and decreasing carbon emissions.

Iowa has tremendous potential to generate electricity from the sun. Recognizing that fact, large bipartisan majorities in the Iowa House and Senate "triple[d] the size of Iowa's successful solar tax incentive program" in 2014 and during this year's session increased available solar energy tax incentive funds by another $500,000 to $5 million per year.

But some segments of the utilities sector have been slow to embrace solar power. One of Iowa's major investor-owned utilities persuaded the Iowa Utilities Board to block certain financing arrangements that made it easier for customers to install solar panels. An appeal of that administrative decision went to the Iowa Supreme Court, which overturned the Iowa Utilities Board last year.

Rural electric cooperatives, which supply electricity to roughly 650,000 Iowans, have approached renewable energy and solar power in vastly different ways. Farmers Electric Cooperative in the Kalona area installed the largest solar farm in Iowa last year.  

But as first reported by Karen Uhlenhuth at Midwest Energy News last week, the Pella Electric Cooperative is seeking to penalize customers who choose to install new solar or other renewable technology. Lee Rood picked up the story on the front page of today's Des Moines Register. The cooperative's new monthly charge for a handful of consumers is brazen and probably illegal.  

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Weekend open thread: ADA anniversary and Iowa caucus polls edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jul 26, 2015 at 11:55:31 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Americans With Disabilities Act took effect 25 years ago this week. How many laws have changed the country for the better as much as Senator Tom Harkin's greatest achievement? The ADA helped millions of people who might have been housebound--like my friend who was able to run errands or take her son to the park, even though she was confined to a wheelchair. Judy Schmidt, who chairs the Iowa Democratic Party's Disability Caucus, shared how the ADA has affected her in a guest column for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. I've enclosed excerpts after the jump. Bleeding Heartland posted more background and links about the law to mark its 20th anniversary. For the record, Iowa's senior Senator Chuck Grassley also voted for the final version of the ADA, as did most of his fellow Republicans. UPDATE: Added below excerpts from Harkin's guest editorial in the Sunday Des Moines Register.

Donald Trump has led the last five national polls of Republican voters and is rising in stature in Iowa, if you believe the latest surveys of likely GOP caucus-goers. Follow me after the jump for details.

I brought my kids to Bernie Sanders' town-hall in West Des Moines on Friday night. My reflections on that event are at the end of this post.

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Latest Quinnipiac poll shows three Republicans leading Clinton, other Democrats in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 22, 2015 at 14:12:27 PM CDT

Quinnipiac's new swing-state poll paints a worrying picture of the 2016 general election for Iowa Democrats. If the poll is accurate, Hillary Clinton's favorability has plummeted in recent months, and at least three Republican candidates lead Clinton and other prospective Democratic candidates head to head in Iowa.  
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New poll of Iowa Democrats testing messages about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 21:52:03 PM CDT

This evening I was a respondent for a lengthy poll testing messages about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I assume the Clinton campaign commissioned this survey. If not her campaign, then some allied group. Most of the questions seemed geared toward determining what is driving Iowa Democrats toward or away from the front-runner and the senator from Vermont, who has claimed the progressive alternative niche in the presidential race. Several of the questions drew from rhetoric Clinton uses in her stump speech.

The caller identified herself as representing "National Data Collection." She was calling from 586-200-0157, the same number used for a different message-testing phone poll I received in early March.

I almost feel sorry for these pollsters having to repeat so many questions when they call my house. My notes are after the jump. I've been a respondent for many polls over the years, but this one included a device that was new to me.

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Weekend open thread: Hall of Fame and Family Leadership Summit edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jul 19, 2015 at 11:52:06 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

All five Democratic presidential candidates appeared at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids on Friday night. I've posted below my impressions from the speeches; you can watch the videos on C-SPAN. It's a shame the venue couldn't accommodate more people, because lots of interested Iowa Democrats were unable to get tickets for the event.

Before the Hall of Fame dinner, I spent some time with an old friend who's a huge Hillary Clinton supporter. Huge, as in, she didn't take down her Hillary yard sign until the grass was long enough to need mowing in the spring of 2008. She mentioned to me that she's relieved to see Clinton working hard this year instead of "ignoring" Iowa like last time. When I told my friend that Hillary visited Iowa more than 30 times in 2007, spending all or part of 70 days in the state, she was surprised. I'm amazed by how many Iowans have bought into the media-constructed narrative that Clinton "bombed" in the caucuses because she took the state for granted.

Ten Republican presidential candidates came to Ames on Saturday for the Family Leadership Summit organized by Bob Vander Plaats' FAMiLY Leader organization. C-SPAN posted all of those speeches here. As usual, Donald Trump sucked up most of the oxygen in the room by questioning whether Senator John McCain had been a hero during the Vietnam War. O.Kay Henderson posted the audio at Radio Iowa. Rival presidential candidates with the exception of Ted Cruz rushed to condemn Trump's remarks. Some of the Family Leadership Summit attendees may have been more upset by Trump's comments about his three marriages and his admission that when he's done something wrong, "I don't bring God into that picture."

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Big gains for Bernie Sanders in latest Q-poll of Iowa Democrats

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 02, 2015 at 09:59:56 AM CDT

Quinnipiac's latest survey of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers shows Senator Bernie Sanders cutting into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's lead. The front-runner is ahead by 52 percent to 33 percent, compared to 60 percent for Clinton and 15 percent for Sanders in the previous Iowa Q-poll, released in May. The memo, results, and questionnaire for the latest survey are here. Vice President Joe Biden, who is very unlikely to run for president again, placed third with 7 percent support. Rounding out the declared Democratic field, former Governor Martin O'Malley registered 3 percent, former Senator Jim Webb 1 percent, and former Senator Lincoln Chaffee did not even reach the 1 percent mark among Quinnipiac's respondents. Click here for more details on the sample and methodology. Live interviewers polled 761 likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers between June 20 and 29, producing a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

The person who should be most worried about this poll is O'Malley. Sanders has firmly occupied the niche of progressive alternative to Clinton--not just in New Hampshire, where he is better-known as a neighboring state's senator, but across the country. I've seen speculation that O'Malley could position himself as a more electable alternative to Clinton than Sanders. But any Democrat concerned primarily about electability will probably vote or caucus for Clinton. Quinnipiac's Iowa Democratic respondents still view her positively: 85 percent favorable, 10 percent unfavorable. So Sanders isn't riding an anti-Hillary wave; rather, he has stronger appeal among liberals.

Any comments about the Democratic presidential race are welcome in this thread. Last weekend, I saw a fun example of the Iowa caucus-goer mentality when a local acquaintance on vacation in New England posted to Facebook photos from a Sanders rally she attended in New Hampshire.

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Polling for the Democratic Race - July 1

by: idiosynchronic

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 20:20:21 PM CDT

(If any other Bleeding Heartland readers were respondents for the same survey and have more details to share, please post a comment or contact me confidentially.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

From 515-512-4155. If you do a search in the right places it shows up as a residential DM/Windsor Heights number. I suspect someone is either volunteering with their own cell or working with a provided cell.

One of these days, I'm actually going to get the name of the polling firm doing the call. But for once, it's obviously local.

The caller actually confirmed my name.

1) Am l likely to participate in the Caucuses? How likely am I to vote. (Likely)

2) Which Caucus? (D)

3) How well do I know the candidates? (all)

4) Whom are you likely to support? (Bernie)

5) Let me read to you this statement - pollster reads a hellaciously long quote from Sanders' stump that aggressively summarizes his campaign. Are you still going to support Sen. Sanders? (hell, yes)

6) Why don't you support Clinton? (Because she doesn't give statements like what you just read)

6) Could you support Hillary Clinton (yes)

7) What would it take to support Hillary Clinton? (Sanders to leave the race)

6) Are you conservative, liberl, or moderate? (liberal)

7) And asks me my birth year. End of call.

I almost questioned if it was a push poll from the Clinton campaign with that long quote, but I think the Clinton campign or close supporter is getting really nervous about Sanders' support.

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Supreme Court saves health insurance subsidies for 6 million Americans (and 40,000 Iowans)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 25, 2015 at 16:10:00 PM CDT

Some 40,000 Iowans will continue to receive federal subsidies for purchasing health insurance, thanks to a 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court opinion announced today. Plaintiffs in King v Burwell had argued that Congress intended for subsidies to be available only to Americans who purchased health insurance through state-run exchanges. Chief Justice John Roberts rejected that interpretation in his opinion (pdf), joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Amy Howe explained the ruling in "plain English" at the SCOTUS blog, where Lyle Denniston wrote a separate analysis of the opinion.

Dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia accused his colleagues of changing "usual rules of statutory interpretation for the sake of the Affordable Care Act," as the Supreme Court majority did (in his view) when it upheld the individual mandate to purchase health insurance in 2012.

A ruling for the plaintiffs in King v Burwell would not only have threatened health care access for roughly 6.4 million people who receive subsidies for health insurance purchased through the federal website Healthcare.gov. It could have caused cascading effects such as sharp premium increases for millions of Americans who do not qualify for subsidies but would nevertheless have been priced out of the health insurance market. In theory, Congress could have fixed the problem with a one-paragraph bill clarifying that people who buy insurance through the federal exchange qualified for subsidies, but most House and Senate Republicans appeared unwilling to go that route.

Today's Supreme Court decision removes the only remaining threat to federal health insurance subsidies for eligible Iowans. Last month, several insurance companies applied to offer policies for 2016 to Iowans through the exchange. Only one provider did so for 2015, and if that company had pulled out of Iowa, health insurance subsidies would not have been available to anyone in our state for next year.

UPDATE: Added Iowa political reaction below. Note that several of the Republican statements renew a vow to repeal and replace "Obamacare." Though destroying the system created by the 2010 health care reform law was transparently the goal of the King v Burwell plaintiffs, their lawyers maintained the charade that the lawsuit was only about getting the Obama administration to follow the Affordable Care Act.

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Five strengths of Hillary Clinton's campaign launch and Iowa swing

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 14, 2015 at 23:46:54 PM CDT

Hillary Clinton kicked off her presidential campaign Saturday with a big rally on New York City's Roosevelt Island. TIME published the full transcript (as prepared) of her speech, which covered values and personal reflections about her mother as well as a long list of policies she would champion in order to win "Four Fights" for Americans. Clinton then traveled to Sioux City, where her remarks at a house party were "simulcast to 650 house parties nationwide, including 55 in Iowa" on Saturday evening. This morning, hundreds of people turned up to see Clinton in Des Moines, at her first Iowa event of this year that was open to the public. After the rally, she gave interviews to Radio Iowa's O.Kay Henderson and the Des Moines Register before heading to Burlington for a house party in the afternoon.

From where I'm sitting, Clinton helped her cause quite a bit this weekend.  

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Democratic presidential candidates converging on Cedar Rapids, July 17

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 11, 2015 at 17:00:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Democratic Party's annual Hall of Fame dinner will draw a larger-than-usual crowd this year, thanks to confirmed appearances by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Governor Martin O'Malley, and former Senator Jim Webb. (I assume former Senator Lincoln Chaffee, who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, will join the list of speakers as well.) Tickets for the event at the Cedar Rapids Convention Complex on Friday, July 17 are available here.

After the jump I've posted details on the seven Iowa Democrats who will be honored at the Hall of Fame event. No one deserves the "outstanding elected official" award more than Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum. Following Iowa statehouse politics closely can be a discouraging pastime, especially this year, but the highest-ranking Democratic woman to serve in the Iowa Senate always makes progressives feel well-represented. I can't think of a better candidate for governor in 2018.

Former State Representative and Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran will receive the Iowa Democratic Party's "outstanding supporter" award. Outside her home town, she is best known for having served as mayor during the devastating 2008 floods.

The "outstanding activist" award is going to Tri-County Democrats chair Kurt Meyer. He was the runner-up candidate to lead the Iowa Democratic Party in January. As I wrote at that time, Meyer has done tremendous organizing work in northern Iowa. His efforts contributed to Mitchell County being the whitest county in the U.S. to vote for Barack Obama (and Howard County the fifth-whitest to favor Obama over Mitt Romney), as well as to State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm's narrow victory over Republican Senator Merlin "Build my fence" Bartz in 2012. Without Wilhelm, there's no Iowa Senate majority.  

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Weekend open thread: latest Des Moines Register Iowa caucus poll edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 07, 2015 at 17:00:34 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome. After the jump I've enclosed highlights from Selzer & Co's latest Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics. I had planned to focus on that poll last weekend, until I heard the devastating news about Beau Biden.

Speaking of the Selzer poll, I'm waiting for the self-styled "Dr. Politics" (Iowa State University professor Steffen Schmidt) to square his assertion that Iowa Democrats "truly hate [Hillary] Clinton's 'listening tour' campaign" with Selzer's findings that 86 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers view Clinton favorably, and 57 percent say she is their first choice for president. Yes, Bernie Sanders got great turnout for his Iowa events last weekend. But where is the evidence that Iowans "hate" the Clinton campaign?

The Des Moines Register ran lots of articles featuring poll results this past week. I got a kick out of the "Captain Obvious" headline for this piece: "Moderates, very conservative in GOP not always in sync." You don't say. I guess that's why moderate and very conservative Republicans have gravitated toward different presidential candidates every four years for the last several decades.

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It's about time: MoveOn and Democracy for America suspend Run Warren Run campaign

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 07:32:06 AM CDT

Democracy for America and MoveOn.org announced today that effective June 8, they will suspend the effort to convince Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president. Organizers say the Run Warren Run campaign collected more 365,000 signatures on petitions since December and generated substantial support in other ways, described in detail in the press release enclosed below. From where I'm sitting, there are better ways to spend $1.25 million on progressive advocacy efforts. Warren will receive a copy of the petition, and MoveOn and DFA will presumably retain contact information for everyone who signed.

Today's announcement says nothing about whether MoveOn.org or Democracy for America will endorse one of the two Democrats running for president as progressive alternatives to Hillary Clinton: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont or former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. The Iowa Democrats I know who were excited about Warren seem to be either supporting Sanders already or leaning in that direction. Run Warren Run ceased to have any real purpose the day Sanders announced his candidacy, but this past month, organizers have continued to ask Iowans to sign petitions, claiming there was a real chance Warren would change her mind.

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