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Hillary Clinton

New Iowa Democratic caucus discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 23, 2015 at 15:51:40 PM CST

February has been a busy month for possible Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa. This thread is for any comments related to next year's Iowa caucuses. Here are a few links to get the conversation started.

Hillary Clinton's campaign (or some group close to Clinton) appears to be message-testing Iowa Democrats. Pat Rynard was a respondent in the latest survey, and the questions had a lot in common with the poll Bleeding Heartland wrote up here. One noticeable difference: the new poll hints at a strong focus on paid family and sick leave if Clinton runs for president.

NBC/Marist released the latest poll of Iowa Democrats, showing Clinton way ahead with 68 percent support. Vice President Joe Biden was a distant second place with 12 percent, though that poll did not ask respondents about Senator Elizabeth Warren. In hypothetical general election match-ups, Clinton leads former Florida Governor Jeb Bush by 48 percent to 40 percent in Iowa, and leads Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by 49 percent to 38 percent.

The vice president stopped in central Iowa earlier this month. After meeting briefly with Governor Terry Branstad, Biden visited the Des Moines Area Community College, where he touted free community college tuition. Speaking at Drake University, Biden encouraged Democratic candidates to run on the Obama administration's record in 2016. Playing for laughs, the Des Moines Register's coverage focused on "great Joe Biden-isms.". (For what it's worth, where Jason Noble heard Biden calling former Representative Neal Smith his "old butt buddy," to my ear it sounded more like a mini-stutter: "an old bud- buddy.") Pat Rynard's write-up was more substantive, and I tend to agree with his conclusion: Biden didn't sound like a future presidential candidate at Drake.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders just finished a three-day swing through Iowa. He spoke to supporters at Iowa City's Prairie Lights book store, talked to students at Drake and the University of Iowa, headlined the Iowa Citizen Action Network's annual dinner in Johnston, spoke in Cedar Rapids and Tipton, and finally was the start guest at the Story County Democrats' soup dinner in Ames. Sanders continues to highlight his key issues of economic inequality and money in politics. At several of his Iowa stops he also called on Republicans not to tie Department of Homeland Security funding to rolling back President Barack Obama's immigration policies. He has yet to indicate whether he might run for president as a Democrat or as an independent.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley hasn't been to Iowa this month, but he'll headline events for the Scott County Democrats in March and the Polk County Democrats in April.

Finally, Iowa Starting Line has kicked off a series of posts on how Democratic presidential candidates can win key counties in Iowa. Author Rynard has worked on various campaigns in different parts of the state. The first two installments focused on Clinton County and Woodbury County.  

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Most Iowa Democrats are not "tired" of Hillary Clinton already

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 12:29:00 PM CST

As poll after poll demolishes the "Hillary's Iowa problem" narrative relentlessly pushed by some journalists and bloggers, a new narrative is emerging: Clinton is "old news" who doesn't energize Democrats. Robert Costa reported for the Washington Post on a recent meeting of thirteen "Ready for Warren" volunteers in Ames. They are "tired" of the Clintons and resent the "hacks" who feel "think Hillary is entitled to be president." They feel that Senator Elizabeth Warren better represents where our party should be on the big issues.

Clearly these are not isolated views among Iowa Democrats. Both the latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics and the latest Loras College poll found that Warren was the first choice of between 15 and 20 percent of Democratic respondents. I can relate, because even though I consider the "Run Warren Run" campaign a waste of progressive energy and money, I also feel closer ideologically to Warren than to Clinton.

By the same token, I wouldn't exaggerate the level of "Clinton fatigue" here. You don't have to look hard to find Iowa Democrats who are very excited about Clinton running for president again. Pat Rynard talked to some of these activists for a recent post at Iowa Starting Line. I've been talking with many acquaintances who reliably attend the caucuses--not just longtime Hillary fans, but also people who caucused for Barack Obama or John Edwards in 2008. Some were donors or even precinct captains for Obama or Edwards. Overwhelmingly, they have told me they hope Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. They are ready to caucus for her and in some cases ready to volunteer for her campaign. For some, it's a pragmatic belief that Clinton is best positioned to win the general election. Others are genuinely enthusiastic about the chance to elect the first woman president. Republicans may gripe about Clinton's age and long time in the national spotlight, but I don't think that the prospect of electing a woman president will ever be "old news."

I enjoy a competitive Iowa caucus campaign as much as anyone, so I hope other Democrats will enter the presidential race. But Warren's not running, and whoever does run is not likely to give Clinton much trouble in Iowa. We are going to have to figure out how to organize our own grassroots without multiple presidential candidates spending millions of dollars on dozens of field offices around the state. One key will be mobilizing those who are "ready for Hillary."

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

New Iowa and swing state poll discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 06, 2015 at 10:18:02 AM CST

Iowa politics watchers are still talking about the latest statewide poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics. Bleeding Heartland discussed the topline Iowa caucus numbers here. Harry Enten took issue with various "Scott Walker leads" headlines, writing at FiveThirtyEight that the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll indicates "chaos" rather than the Wisconsin governor leading the Republican field. Pat Rynard's take on the implications for Democratic and Republican presidential contenders is at Iowa Starting Line.

Anyone who is vaguely familiar with Iowa Republican discourse shouldn't be surprised that Jeb Bush's stands on immigration reform and "Common Core" education standards are a "deal-killer" for many conservatives polled by Selzer. As for why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has the highest negatives (with 54 percent of GOP respondents viewing him unfavorably), there are many potential explanations. It's only been a year since the scandal involving politically-motivated bridge lane closures made national news. Before that, he angered social conservatives by signing a bill that bans "gay conversion therapy" and by not fighting a court ruling that overturned New Jersey's ban on same-sex marriage. Who knows, maybe some Iowa Republicans are still mad that Christie praised President Barack Obama's handling of Hurricane Sandy right before the 2012 presidential election.

The Des Moines Register has rolled out other findings from the latest Iowa poll this week. Sad to say, I'm surprised that only 39 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers agreed with the statement "Islam is an inherently violent religion, which leads its followers to violent acts." I would have expected more to agree with that statement and fewer than 53 percent of GOP respondents to lean toward "Islam is an inherently peaceful religion, but there are some who twist its teachings to justify violence." Among likely Democratic caucus-goers in the sample, only 13 percent said Islam is inherently violent, while 81 percent said the faith is inherently peaceful.

Not surprisingly, Selzer's poll found a big partisan divide in whether Iowans see U.S. Senator Joni Ernst as a potential president. I wish the question wording had been more clear. To me, "Do you think Joni Ernst does or does not have what it takes to become president one day?" is ambiguous. Were they trying to get at whether respondents think Ernst could do the job, or whether she could be elected? I don't think Ernst has "what it takes" to be a good legislator, but obviously she had "what it takes" to win the Senate election. The results would be easier to interpret if respondents had been asked something like, "Would you ever consider voting for Joni Ernst for president someday?" or "Regardless of whether you might personally support her, do you think Joni Ernst could be elected president someday?"

No Des Moines Register story by Jennifer Jacobs about Ernst would be complete without some pro-Ernst slant, and in this case I had to laugh reading the pulled quotes from poll respondents. The ones who had good things to say about Ernst sounded reasonable and well spoken, whereas the one Democrat Jacobs quoted criticizing Ernst was made to look petty: "She kind of represents everything that makes me want to throw up in the morning - and I'm not even pregnant."

Bleeding Heartland doesn't usually comment on polls from other states, but Quinnipiac's latest findings from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida will interest any political junkie. In head to head match-ups, Hillary Clinton leads by double digits against every Republican tested in Pennsylvania. She "dominates" all of them in Ohio, except for Governor John Kasich, who trails her by a statistically insignificant 1 percent. She also has a comfortable lead in Florida against all of the Republicans except former Governor Jeb Bush, who trails by 1 percent. Yes, it's "too early" for a 2016 general election poll; in 1999 many polls found George W. Bush way ahead of Vice President Al Gore. Yes, name recognition may be contributing to Clinton's leads. Nevertheless, if the Q-poll is anywhere in the ballpark, the Republican nominee will go into the next presidential election as the underdog. Thanks to the "Big Blue Wall," Clinton could get to 270 electoral votes with the states John Kerry won in 2004 plus Florida, or the states Kerry won plus Ohio and one or two other smaller states (such as Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, or Iowa).

Republicans may take heart in the fact that some of their likely presidential contenders (such as Walker) were not included in Quinnipiac's swing-state polls.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Democrats should skip Bruce Rastetter's Iowa Agriculture Forum

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 05, 2015 at 17:58:09 PM CST

Seven potential Republican presidential candidates have accepted Bruce Rastetter's invitation to attend an "Iowa Agricultural Forum" in Des Moines next month, Erin Murphy reported yesterday. The seven are Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and national laughingstock sorry, entrepreneur Donald Trump. No doubt more Republicans will show up to be heard as well.

Rastetter also invited U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as well as a half-dozen Democrats who may run for president this cycle or in the future: Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and former U.S. Senator Jim Webb. So far no Democrats have accepted the invitation.

I hope they all steer clear of this event.

It's a bit late for Rastetter to reinvent himself as some kind of non-partisan elder statesman. He provided the seed money for the 501(c)4 group American Future Fund, which quickly grew into one of the biggest-spending and most deceptive dark money groups on the right. After leading an effort to bring Terry Branstad out of political retirement, Rastetter became the top individual donor to Branstad's 2010 campaign, landing a prestigious appointment to the influential Board of Regents. As a Regent, he has thrown his weight around more than most of his predecessors. In what many viewed as a conflict of interest, Rastetter continued to pursue a business project involving his biofuels company and Iowa State University in an extensive land acquisition in Tanzania. Later, he tried to get the University of Iowa's president to arrange a meeting where biofuels industry representatives could educate a prominent professor whom Rastetter considered "uninformed" about ethanol. Rastetter was also involved in the fiasco that eventually led to Senator Tom Harkin pulling his papers from Iowa State University.

Early in the 2012 election cycle, Rastetter led a group of Iowa businessmen who tried to recruit New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to run for president. Although he is now cultivating an image as a corporate leader who is above the political fray, he will always be seen as a Republican power-broker in Iowa. I don't see much upside to any Democrat showing up to kiss Rastetter's ring. At best, the national and local reporters covering the Agriculture Forum will write about the "frosty reception" Democratic speakers got from a conservative audience. Or more likely, disruption by hecklers will overshadow any Democratic message on agricultural policy.

Democrats who may run for president will have lots of opportunities this year to address Iowans who might actually listen to them.  

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Is the latest Hillary Clinton message-testing poll for men only? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 04, 2015 at 07:45:00 AM CST

A new poll is in the field testing messages about Hillary Clinton with Iowa Democrats. The live-interviewer survey is coming from a Michigan-based phone number (586-200-0081). The caller will not say who paid for the survey, only that he or she represents "the National Data Collection Firm." The caller asks respondents for their views on several prospective Democratic presidential candidates and various public-policy issues, then tests the respondent's agreement with numerous statements about Clinton's record and asks whether certain statements would make you more or less likely to vote for Clinton.

John Deeth took the call and posted his account here. My notes on the same survey are after the jump. Some New Hampshire residents are getting similar calls, but from a different phone number.

Although I don't know who paid for this survey, the questionnaire suggests to me that it came from a group supporting Clinton's presidential aspirations, not from a rival Democratic camp. There appears to be a special interest in gauging support for Senator Elizabeth Warren and her views on the system being rigged in favor of big banks and wealthy interests.

I also have a hunch, as yet unconfirmed, that the contact universe for this survey may consist only of men who are registered Democrats and have participated in past Iowa Democratic caucuses. I have not yet been able to find a woman who received the call, despite asking quite a few likely suspects (including some who took part in the previous message-testing poll about Clinton in Iowa). The caller asks for a specific voter by name, and so far I have only heard of men being targeted. When I picked up our landline, the caller asked to speak to Mr. desmoinesdem about "important issues in Iowa." I said he was not available but that I would be happy to answer the questions. The caller insisted that they are supposed to talk with certain people and again asked for my husband. I said, "Are you sure I'm not on your list too?" and gave my name--I'll bet that's a new one for that poll-taker! He politely said he would call later for Mr. desmoinesdem. True to his word, he called back in a few hours, and my husband put the phone on speaker so I could take notes. The survey takes about 15-20 minutes.

UPDATE: Thanks to crowd-sourcing, I can confirm that women as well as men are in the respondent pool for this survey.

Toward the end of the survey, the caller asks whether the respondent supported John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama in the 2008 caucuses (no other options given). This question was not preceded by any question about whether the individual caucused that year, suggesting to me that the pollster drew up the sample from a list of Iowa Democrats who did caucus in 2008.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I would particularly like to hear from Bleeding Heartland readers (male or female) who received the same call.

UPDATE: Bleeding Heartland user DCCyclone notes in the comments, "It's definitely a high-priced survey for a campaign, party, or superpac or similarly campaign-focused interest group.  That the caller asked for a voter by name proves that, because only high-priced internal surveys sample that way." I tend to agree that Ready for Hillary is the most likely suspect.

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Why the vaccination issue is a minefield for Republican presidential candidates

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 03, 2015 at 07:05:00 AM CST

The recent measles outbreak has sparked more media discussion of the trend away from routine vaccination. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tried to walk a fine line when asked about the issue yesterday, saying parents should have "some measure of choice" over immunizing their kids. I enclose his comments and his staff's later attempts to clarify below.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who is also a medical doctor, told a popular right-wing radio host yesterday, "I'm not anti-vaccine at all but...most of them ought to be voluntary. [...] I think there are times in which there can be some rules but for the most part it ought to be voluntary." He took a shot at former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has said it was a mistake for his administration to try to require the human papillomavirus vaccine for pre-teen girls in Texas.

As these and other Republican presidential candidates tour Iowa this year, I guarantee that they will face many more questions about the vaccine issue. In my non-blogging life, I have encountered hundreds of Iowa parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. They are a diverse group and can't be stereotyped as "crunchy hippie" lefties or religious conservatives. Some don't trust the government to regulate toxins in products pushed by pharmaceutical companies. Others may not believe vaccines cause autism but fear different adverse reactions. Or, they think "natural immunity" acquired through getting a disease is stronger. Many conservative evangelicals and Catholics shun vaccines because of concerns about the use of fetal tissue in their manufacture (see also here). Although the most influential homeschooling group, the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, does not take a position for or against immunizations, my impression is that anti-vaccine views are more prevalent among homeschoolers than among parents who send their children to public or parochial schools. Homeschoolers were a critical base of support for Mike Huckabee's 2008 Iowa caucus campaign and were courted by multiple presidential candidates before the 2012 caucuses.

Some libertarian-leaning conservatives may not worry about the safety or ethics of vaccines, and may even have their own children immunized, but on principle don't think the government should tell parents anything about how to raise kids. That group looks like a natural Rand Paul constituency, but they may be open to other candidates who cater to their views.

Regardless of how far the measles outbreak spreads, this issue will remain a minefield for GOP candidates.

Side note: In central Iowa, more and more pediatric practices are rejecting families whose parents want to deviate from the accepted vaccine schedule. In my opinion, that is a huge mistake. There is no one perfect immunization schedule. Medical associations in different countries recommend that babies and toddlers get shots for various diseases at different times. Based on my conversations, many of these parents would agree to most or all of the vaccines eventually; they just feel uncomfortable with so many shots clustered close together. Instead of accommodating those concerns with a delayed schedule, pediatricians are driving families away. So worried parents either stop taking their kids to regular wellness checks, or seek medical care only from chiropractors or alternative health providers.

UPDATE: Added below further comments from Rand Paul on why vaccines should be voluntary.

Likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton weighed in on Twitter: "The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest"

A Bleeding Heartland reader reminded me about this report from last year, indicating that "In West Des Moines, 37 percent of home-schooled children are not fully vaccinated."  

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Four reasons Mike Gronstal will win another term in Iowa Senate district 8

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 02, 2015 at 09:07:00 AM CST

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal celebrated his 65th birthday on January 29. The Des Moines Register's William Petroski caught up with Gronstal after fellow senators sang "Happy Birthday" and confirmed that the longtime Democratic leader has no plans to retire. He's up for re-election next year in Senate district 8, covering the Council Bluffs area and Carter Lake (scroll to the end of this post to view a detailed map).

Now that Tom Harkin has retired, Gronstal may be the Iowa Democrat whom Republicans most love to hate. But I have news for them: he's going to win another term in 2016, and here's why.

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Weekend open thread: Des Moines Register Iowa caucus poll edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 21:26:55 PM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome. Bonus points if someone can suggest a good reason for Senator Joni Ernst voting against renewable energy tax credits this week. Her staff should have informed her that those tax credits are important for Iowa's wind turbine manufacturers. Then she could have followed Senator Chuck Grassley's lead. Or maybe that information wouldn't have mattered, since Ernst owes a lot to the Koch brothers, who strongly oppose federal incentives for renewable energy.

The Des Moines Register just published the latest Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa poll, which was in the field a few days after Representative Steve King's Iowa Freedom Summit generated substantial political news coverage. Selzer & Co. surveyed 402 "likely Republican caucus-goers" between January 26 and 29, producing a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. No candidate has a statistically significant lead; the "top tier" are Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, 2012 nominee Mitt Romney (who hadn't announced yet that he wasn't running), former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (who won the 2008 Iowa GOP caucuses), Dr. Ben Carson, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. You can read the highlights on the Register's website; after the jump I've embedded the polling memo. For my money, this is the most interesting part of Jennifer Jacobs' story:

Sixty percent say it's more important to vote for the person who aligns with their values, even if that candidate isn't electable, compared with 36 percent who say winning the White House for Republicans is more important.

A majority - 51 percent of likely GOP caucusgoers - would prefer an anti-establishment candidate without a lot of ties to Washington or Wall Street who would change the way things are done and challenge conventional thinking. That compares to 43 percent who think the better leader would be a mainstream establishment candidate with executive experience who understands business and how to execute ideas, the new poll shows.

For respondents who say they want an establishment candidate, Romney is their first choice. With Romney out of the picture, Walker leads. Huckabee is next, then Bush.

Among those who want an anti-establishment candidate, Paul is the favorite, followed by Walker and Carson.

The 401 "Democratic likely caucus-goers" surveyed by Selzer & Co. overwhelmingly lean toward former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She's the first choice of 56 percent and the second choice of 15 percent of respondents. Senator Elizabeth Warren polled 16 percent as a first choice and 23 percent as a second choice. Vice President Joe Biden polled 9 percent as a first choice and 26 percent as a second choice. All other potential candidates were in single digits.

FEBRUARY 1 UPDATE: Ben Schreckinger is out with a Politico story headlined, "Iowa Dems high and dry as Hillary decides." I've added excerpts after the jump. The story is full of angtsy quotes about how there's not as much activity on the Democratic side as there was before the 2004 and 2008 caucuses, and how Republicans will benefit from more organizing by presidential hopefuls. It's true, Iowa Republicans have had way more candidate visits, including events to raise money for county parties or down-ballot candidates. Guess what? It's going to stay that way for all of 2015. Our party has a prohibitive front-runner, and she is well-liked by the vast majority of likely Democratic caucus-goers. We're not going to have multiple presidential candidates spending millions of dollars on dozens of field offices around the state. So stop whining about it to national reporters and start figuring out how to build a grassroots network without an Iowa caucus as competitive as 2004 or 2008.

I also added below a statement from the Iowa GOP, contrasting the "vibrant" and "diverse" Republican presidential field with the Democratic landscape ahead of the 2016 caucuses.

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Iowa caucus discussion thread: Romney reality check edition

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 30, 2015 at 11:46:12 AM CST

Speaking in "his best precinct, the top-level donor conference call," Mitt Romney announced this morning that he will not run for president a third time. Though the odds against a successful bid for the presidency would seem obvious to any casual politics watcher, Romney appears to have genuinely believed that he could win in 2016 with a sharper message. But many of his top donors, bundlers, and early-state volunteers were reluctant to board the Romney train one more time. In what may have been the last straw, yesterday news broke that David Kochel will soon move to Miami to work as "senior strategist" for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's new political action committee. Kochel was Romney's top Iowa consultant during the 2008 and 2012 election cycles but is expected to become Bush's national campaign manager once Jeb makes his presidential race official.

Kochel told Jonathan Martin of the New York Times that a lot of Iowans "will be interested in signing up" with Jeb Bush, adding that "You compete everywhere because that's how you win delegates." Some people had speculated that Bush might bypass the Iowa caucuses, seen to favor socially conservative candidates. He skipped Representative Steve King's cattle call "Iowa Freedom Summit" last weekend in Des Moines, where several of the speakers took shots at him.

In general, Bush has spent the last month on major donor contacts and strategizing rather than public appearances. Bank on him to raise far more money than anyone else in the large presidential field during the first half of this year. He could raise as much as the rest of the field combined.

With Romney out, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie looks like the only person who can compete with Jeb for the "establishment Republican" niche. He reminded the audience at the Iowa Freedom Summit that he's visited this state eleven times since 2010. You can listen to that speech at Radio Iowa.

Iowa Republican power-broker Bruce Rastetter spearheaded a "draft Christie" before the 2012 Iowa caucuses. So far this cycle, he is staking out a more neutral position. Last week Rastetter's public relations team announced plans to hold an Iowa Agriculture Summit in Des Moines on March 7. About two dozen possible presidential candidates from both parties have been invited to participate; the full list is in a press release I've enclosed after the jump. Governor Terry Branstad told Radio Iowa this week that Jeb Bush is "very interested" in attending the forum.  

While most of the speakers at King's overly long Freedom Summit came to town solely for that occasion, 2012 Iowa caucuses winner Rick Santorum toured the state for several days afterward. He is still pushing a message I think Republicans should hear about how the GOP could better connect with working-class Americans. Radio Iowa posted the full audio here. According to Iowa Starting Line, Santorum didn't draw a lot of applause at the Freedom Summit but was well-received at his small events this past week. Nevertheless, I expect most of his 2012 supporters to flow to other candidates this year, especially Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, or Ted Cruz.

I still like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's chances to win the Iowa caucuses. By all accounts he made a good impression on the Freedom Summit crowd. So did Ben Carson, but I don't see Carson putting together a professional campaign operation. Radio Iowa posted the full audio and highlights from the Walker speech here. Click here to listen to Ted Cruz, another crowd favorite.

In contrast, former half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin bombed at the Freedom Summit, done in by a malfunctioning teleprompter. With her public speaking experience, she should have been able to wing it. I had to laugh when I saw Sam Clovis bash her to the Sioux City Journal's reading audience. He's probably still bitter that Palin endorsed Joni Ernst for Senate last spring when Clovis was campaigning as the true conservative in the GOP field.

The Republican Party of Iowa is accepting straw poll venue bids until Thursday, February 12. A recent press release said "Venue proposals should be able to accommodate large crowds and have ample parking." The major fundraiser coming this August has traditionally been held in Ames, but I'm hearing there will be a strong push for Farm Progress Show in Boone. The State Fairgrounds in Des Moines are another leading contender for the event.

In news from the Democratic side, Mike Allen reported for Politico that former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "strongly considering delaying the formal launch of her presidential campaign until July." A lot of Iowa Democrats are upset that Clinton has in effect frozen the field of play. They won't be happy if she leaves everyone hanging until mid-summer. By this point in 2007, several Democratic presidential candidates already were opening field offices in key Iowa cities.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley made his first Iowa hire recently. Jake Oeth, who served as political director for Bruce Braley's U.S. Senate campaign, is now doing outreach for O'Malley as a consultant to the O'Say Can You See PAC. According to Pat Rynard at Iowa Starting Line, O'Malley had been recruiting Oeth for some time. The former Maryland governor has Iowa connections going all the way back to Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign and paid his dues last year with several Iowa visits, including the keynote speech for the state Democratic Party convention and fundraisers for Democratic candidates. Although some consider the former Maryland governor a possible rival to Clinton, I see him more as a back-up candidate if some unexpected development prevents Clinton from running.

MoveOn.org Political Action opened a Des Moines office for the Run Warren Run effort two weeks ago. I've posted the announcement after the jump; it mentions the first Iowa staff hires. As Bleeding Heartland discussed here, I think the "draft Warren" effort is mostly a waste of progressive energy and resources. Not that I'm against house parties for liberals, but they could be organizing around a more practical political cause. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to recruit Warren won't change the fact that she is not running for president. Pat Rynard attended the Run Warren Run office kickoff party on January 29 and posted his thoughts on the campaign's "murky mission."

I haven't heard much lately about U.S. Senator Jim Webb, who formed an exploratory committee late last year to consider a presidential bid. I never bought into him as a serious rival to Clinton, and he didn't respond adeptly to the first real scrutiny of his PAC's activities. I'm keeping an open mind about the Democratic race until the field is set, but if Webb turns out to be the only alternative candidate, I will be caucusing for Hillary.

Any comments about the Iowa caucuses are welcome in this thread.

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Three pros and three cons of Andy McGuire as Iowa Democratic Party chair (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jan 17, 2015 at 15:59:23 PM CST

Earlier today the Iowa Democratic Party's State Central Committee selected Dr. Andy McGuire to lead the party for the next two years. McGuire was the favorite going into the election and won on the third ballot against Kurt Meyer. Another candidate for state chair, former Congressional candidate Jim Mowrer, then ran for first vice chair and was elected on the first ballot.

Dr. McGuire has been active in Iowa Democratic politics for more than 20 years, since working on her sister-in-law Sheila McGuire's 1994 Congressional campaign in Iowa's fifth district. (Sheila McGuire later served as state party chair for a term.) In the political world, Andy McGuire is best-known for being Mike Blouin's running mate during the 2006 Democratic primary for governor. The pro-choice mother of seven helped balance the ticket, as many Democratic activists were concerned about Blouin's stance on abortion rights.

In recent years, McGuire has often been mentioned as a possible Congressional candidate, but she ruled out running in Iowa's third district in 2016 if elected to lead the party. Many central Iowa Democrats expect her to run for governor in 2018.

Although I favored one of the other candidates, McGuire brings a lot to the table as a state party leader. My first thoughts on the pros and cons of her election are after the jump.  

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Who Should Lead the Iowa Democratic Party?

by: 2laneIA

Thu Jan 15, 2015 at 00:18:19 AM CST

(This guest diary raises important issues. A post is in progress containing the case for each of the four candidates for Iowa Democratic Party chair. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

On Saturday the IDP will elect a new state chair.  Douglas Burns has a useful summary of the candidates' positions and experience. I have the impression from conversations with a few members and other committed Democrats that all the candidates are viewed as capable and with their hearts on the left side.

I have a question:  should the IDP chair be a declared partisan for one (as yet undeclared) presidential candidate? That is Dr. McGuire, according to The Hill

A new Democratic Party chairman also will soon be in place in the state, and a Clinton friend, Andy McGuire, is in the running for the top spot, which will be decided in a Saturday election. 

A Bloomberg Iowa poll in October found the former secretary of State received support from 76 percent of Democrats who planned to participate in the caucus, a sign to Crawford and others that Clinton is right where she wants to be.

“What she needs to do is come to Iowa and use it to get very connected at the retail level, which will be good for her in Iowa and nationally, as well,” Crawford said. “Are there some activists who want another option? Of course there are. That will always be the case. But I’m not particularly concerned.”

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15 Iowa politics predictions for 2015

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 02, 2015 at 09:41:49 AM CST

Happy new year to everyone in the Bleeding Heartland community! Undeterred by my failure (yet again) to win, place, or show in my own blog's election contest, I offer fifteen Iowa politics predictions for this calendar year.

Your own predictions or any other relevant comments are welcome in this thread. At the end of this year I'll look back to see what we got right or wrong.

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

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 20:22:06 PM CST

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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The "Draft Warren" movement is a waste of progressive energy

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Dec 11, 2014 at 10:33:26 AM CST

At least three progressive Democratic groups (Democracy for America, MoveOn, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee) are mobilizing liberal Democrats to support U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren for president. The idea is to make sure the 2016 campaign includes a strong voice for economic populism. In a statement released yesterday, Democracy for America's executive director Charles Chamberlain said one of the group's "top priorities will be ensuring that the battle for the Democratic nomination is a contest, not a coronation." I've enclosed their full press release after the jump.

There's a first time for everything, and I believe this is the first time I've disagreed with DFA's strategy. Warren has consistently said and continues to say that she is not running for president. I don't believe she is open to changing her mind, unless Hillary Clinton surprises everyone by not running. Instead of wasting time trying to draft a candidate who doesn't want to seek the presidency, progressive groups should wait until the field is set and then support the contender who most closely aligns with their interests.

Although I would certainly consider caucusing for Warren if she did run for president, progressives need her to be focused on her work in the Senate, not on raising money for a hopeless Democratic primary campaign. Warren can be a strong voice, not only against bad language Congressional Republicans try to sneak into legislation, but also against Obama administration shortcomings on personnel and policy. Everyone has a role to play, and we need outspoken liberals in the Senate, especially with Tom Harkin retiring.

Finally, it's hard to disagree with Governor Howard Dean's contention that "Hilllary Clinton is by far the most qualified person in the United States to serve as President." The only Democrat who even comes close is Vice President Joe Biden, who said this week that he will decide whether to run again "at the end of the spring or early summer." Clinton has the highest name recognition and sky-high favorables with almost every key Democratic constituency.

I understand the concept of a candidate like Warren pushing Clinton to the left during the primaries, but let's get real: a Harvard professor turned senator from Massachusetts, in the middle of her first term, is not going to be elected president, even with the "Big Blue Wall" propping her up. Whereas Clinton would go into the general election as the front-runner against almost any conceivable Republican nominee.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: A Bleeding Heartland reader shared an e-mail that some former Barack Obama campaign workers received this morning. The Ready for Warren Presidential Draft Campaign PAC is urging "Obama alumni" to sign a petition calling on Warren to run for president in 2016. I've enclosed that message at the end of this post.  

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Someone is message-testing for Hillary Clinton in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Dec 06, 2014 at 17:15:00 PM CST

I haven't received the call myself, but multiple acquaintances who are registered Iowa Democrats have been respondents for a lengthy message-testing poll about Hillary Clinton in recent days. The survey takes approximately 30 minutes and includes lots of questions about whether X, Y, or Z would be a reason you would or would not support Hillary Clinton in the next Iowa caucuses.

The survey also asks Iowans about several other possible Democratic candidates, including Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, and former U.S. Senator Jim Webb, who recently formed an exploratory committee for a presidential bid. UPDATE: Other Iowa Democrats confirm the call asked about Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley as well.

From what I've heard, this poll did not ask about Republican presidential candidates, with one exception: a question about whether a Hillary Clinton/Jeb Bush match up of American political dynasties would be a good or bad thing.

I hope other Bleeding Heartland readers can provide more details about this poll, including not only questions asked but also what research firm is being used (which should be mentioned at the end of the call). My acquaintances do not recall hearing any organization's name mentioned, such as the Ready for Hillary super PAC.  Feel free to post comments in this thread or send a confidential e-mail message.

Speaking of Clinton's presidential prospects, Amie Parnes reported for The Hill this week that only four Republicans worry "Clinton World": former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. (Parnes didn't name all of the Clinton associates she interviewed for the story.) Of those four candidates, Walker strikes me as best-positioned to make it through the GOP primaries, if he can raise enough money for a credible campaign. Christie and Bush will be competing for the same donors and the same niche in the various primaries. I think both have taken too many positions that will be deal-breakers for the right wing.

UPDATE: In retrospect, I should not have said in the headline that someone is message-testing "for" Hillary Clinton, because a poll like this could just have easily been commissioned by a group looking for the best arguments to use against Clinton with the Iowa Democrats.

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New Iowa caucus discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Dec 03, 2014 at 12:55:57 PM CST

It's been a few weeks since Bleeding Heartland posted a thread for discussing the Iowa caucuses. Any thoughts about presidential candidates in either party are welcome here.

As usual, the latest national polling shows no real competition for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. Contrary to what you may have read in some strange post-election analysis, Clinton seems set to cruise in the Iowa caucuses too. Republicans appear to be trying out a new talking point against the Democratic front-runner: she allegedly makes "rock star demands" before speaking engagements. Peter Holley posted a funny comparison of Clinton's demands to those of "actual rock stars."

Everyone on the Iowa GOP's State Central Committee has signed a pledge not to publicly endorse any candidate during the next Iowa caucus campaign. The goal is to convince all candidates and the media that the game is not rigged, and everyone can compete here on a level playing field.

So far I haven't seen any indication that any Republican contender might skip the caucuses. Iowans have had tons of opportunities to see potential presidential candidates these last few months. The latest conservative sensation, Dr. Ben Carson, was just in Des Moines for the FAMiLY Leader's big fall fundraiser.

The more "moderate" or "establishment" contenders seem eager to compete in Iowa too. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to the state twice shortly before the election, and pulled off a truly epic pander on "Black Friday" by vetoing a bill that would have banned gestation crates for pigs. Never mind that more than 90 percent of New Jersey residents back the bill, which passed both chambers of the legislature with huge majorities. Governor Terry Branstad was pleased, as were the Iowa Pork Producers and the Iowa Farm Bureau. In an editorial I've excerpted after the jump, one local newspaper concluded that "New Jersey is already in Christie's rearview mirror." I think other aspects of Christie's record will be a deal-breaker for Iowa conservatives, but maybe if the field is fractured he could sneak into the top three here.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Rand Paul confirmed through a spokesman this week that he will run for re-election to the Senate in 2016. The staffer insisted that Paul could still run for president if he chooses to do so. Not under current Kentucky law, he can't. And since Democrats held their majority in the lower chamber of that state's legislature, the law is unlikely to be changed for Paul's convenience. Going to court to challenge the law is probably a dead end, since most states prohibit candidates from appearing on the ballot for two offices at once. Local journalist Sam Youngman goes through some possible scenarios here.

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Iowa reaction to Obama's executive action on immigration

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Nov 21, 2014 at 11:09:40 AM CST

President Barack Obama delivered a prime-time televised address last night to explain his new executive order on immigration. The order would remove the threat of deportation for an estimated 5 million of the 11 million immigrants who came to this country illegally. After the jump I've posted the full text of the president's speech, as well as reaction from some members of Iowa's Congressional delegation and several advocacy groups. I will update this post as needed.

Last year, Iowa's U.S. senators split when the Senate approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which has never come up for a vote in the U.S. House. Just before Congress adjourned for five weeks this summer, Iowa's representatives in the House split on party lines over a border security funding bill bill designed to speed up deportations of unaccompanied children entering this country. Likewise, Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) voted for and Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) against a separate bill that would have reversed the president's policy (announced two years ago) to suspend deportations of some undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. Click here for background on those bills.

Note: King has been all over the national media the last couple of weeks, as journalists and pundits have discussed the president's expected action on immigration. Over the summer, King raised the prospect that Obama could be impeached over unilateral action on immigration. But as you can see from statements posted below, more recently he has not advocated impeachment. Instead, King has called on Congress to defund the federal agencies that would carry out Obama's executive order. Unfortunately for him, that approach is "impossible."

Both Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have expressed support for Obama's executive order in the absence of Congressional action on comprehensive immigration reform.

Several Republican governors who may run for president in 2016 are considering legal action aimed at blocking the president's executive order. Such a lawsuit could raise the standing of Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, or Indiana Governor Mike Pence with Iowa conservatives who are likely to participate in the next GOP caucuses. I am seeking comment on whether Iowa Governor Terry Branstad might join this legal action.

The Obama administration is already preparing a legal defense that would include precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 ruling on an Arizona law relating to illegal immigration. Federal officials "have always exercised discretion" in prioritizing cases for deportation.

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That was fast: The return of the "Hillary's Iowa problem" narrative

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 10, 2014 at 18:10:00 PM CST

Last month, the Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co found that Hillary Clinton "remains the prohibitive frontrunner to win the 2016 Iowa presidential caucuses," with support from 53 percent of of likely Democratic caucus-goers. No other Democrat drew more than 10 percent.

Among the Selzer poll's larger respondent group of likely voters in the 2014 elections, Clinton led every Republican but Mitt Romney in a hypothetical 2016 matchup, despite having "upside down" favorability numbers (47 percent favorable/49 percent unfavorable). If Clinton leads most Republicans among the 2014 Iowa electorate, my hunch is she would have an even bigger lead among Iowans who vote in presidential elections.  

However, the "Hillary's Iowa problem" narrative found voice in a feature by Jennifer Jacobs and Jason Noble for yesterday's Sunday Des Moines Register.  

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Iowa caucus hopefuls eager to serve as campaign surrogates

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 27, 2014 at 17:55:02 PM CDT

With the 2016 caucuses only a bit more than a year away, many potential presidential candidates have been paying their dues in Iowa this fall. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is headlining events for Bruce Braley in Cedar Rapids and Davenport on Wednesday, while her husband, President Bill Clinton, will campaign with Braley in Des Moines and Waterloo this Saturday. Vice President Joe Biden was in Davenport today with Braley and Representative Dave Loebsack.

Others who might run for president (if Hillary Clinton opts out) have been here lately too. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts got large crowds of Democrats going in Iowa City and Des Moines last weekend. This past Saturday, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota gave the keynote speech at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley recently visited Iowa for the fourth time since June, headlining events for Braley, Loebsack, gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch, and Steve Siegel, the Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 41.

On the Republican side, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did an event for Representative Steve King before headlining Governor Terry Branstad's "birthday" bash in Des Moines on Saturday. (King helped Christie out of a jam once.) The New Jersey governor will be back later this week to campaign with Branstad, Senate nominee Joni Ernst, and IA-02 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks in Burlington. Last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky came to Cedar Falls for an event with IA-01 GOP nominee Rod Blum, and Texas Governor Rick Perry made stops in Des Moines and the Cedar Rapids area for attorney general nominee Adam Gregg, Blum, and Ernst. Former Senator Rick Santorum did an event for King last week too, and Donald Trump did earlier in October. Senator Marco Rubio is coming back to eastern Iowa tomorrow to raise money for the Scott County Republicans and for Blum.

I've heard that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have recorded radio ads for Sam Clovis, the social conservative favorite who is running for state treasurer. However, I haven't heard those spots on the radio yet. Speaking of social conservative heroes, Dr. Ben Carson (possibly the new "flavor of the month" for Iowa Republicans) is slated to keynote the FAMiLY Leader's fall fundraiser on November 22.

Any comments about the next presidential race in Iowa are welcome in this thread. P.S. Imagine if any Democratic candidate or elected official followed Branstad's lead and moved his "birthday party" up from November 17 to October 25 for political reasons. There would be a chorus of outrage from pundits: Phony! Not acting like a real Iowan!  

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DMR Iowa caucus poll: Same old story for Democrats but a few GOP surprises

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 16:15:00 PM CDT

It's been a few weeks since we had a thread on the 2016 Iowa caucuses. Today's Des Moines Register featured results from the latest statewide poll by Selzer & Co for the Register and Bloomberg News. Selzer surveyed 425 registered voters "who say they definitely or probably will attend" the 2016 Iowa Republican caucuses, and 426 registered voters who plan to attend the Democratic caucuses.

On the Democratic side, it's the same old story: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads the field with 53 percent of respondents naming her as a first choice. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren drew 10 percent support, Vice President Joe Biden 9 percent, Secretary of State and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry got 7 percent, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders 3 percent, and several others 1 percent or less (the last group included Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, who has visited Iowa several times in the last couple of years). Hillary Clinton also registered the highest favorability rating among Democratic respondents (76 percent), shattering the myth that she has a serious "Iowa problem," at least where the caucuses are concerned.

The Register's headline screamed, "2016 EARLY TAKE: CLINTON, ROMNEY," but from where I'm sitting, this poll would not entice the 2012 presidential nominee to try again. Mitt Romney was the first choice of 17 percent of Republican respondents and the second choice of 8 percent. That's hardly a ringing endorsement of the man who has much higher name recognition than most of the other candidates.

The Selzer poll showed no clear favorites among potential GOP presidential candidates. Ben Carson may be the new "flavor of the month" with 11 percent picking him as a first choice, second to Romney. Perhaps Iowa Republicans are looking for a fresh face after two cycles in a row of nominating men who had run for president before. Nine candidates pulled between 3 percent and 10 percent as a first choice in the Selzer poll, suggesting that the race will be wide open next year. (I've posted the full list after the jump.) The findings will be discouraging to former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. Despite winning the 2012 caucuses by a handful of votes, he is now the first choice of only 3 percent of respondents, and the second choice of only 8 percent. Marco Rubio's immigration reform misadventure may have ruined his image among Iowa Republicans, because he is way down the list in this poll.

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

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