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Hillary Clinton

Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum endorsing Hillary Clinton is a big deal

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 05, 2015 at 09:53:04 AM CDT

Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum endorsed Hillary Clinton for president today in a guest column for the Des Moines Register. This afternoon, she will elaborate on her reasons at a Women for Hillary event in Dubuque.

Jochum joins the list of prominent Iowa supporters of Barack Obama before the 2008 caucuses who are now backing Clinton. An Iowa House Democrat at that time, Jochum headed Obama's leadership team in Dubuque County. Obama easily won a plurality of delegates in Dubuque and carried all of the neighboring counties too.

More important, Jochum is a hero to many on what you might call "the Democratic wing of the Iowa Democratic Party." I'm thinking of the 26 percent who voted for Ed Fallon in the 2006 gubernatorial primary, as well as people who have long advocated for campaign finance reform at the state level. Although I think highly of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, he's not the progressive champion Jochum is--not by a long shot. She has helped fight some very tough fights, where powerful interest groups were lined up on the other side. I can't think of an Iowa state legislator in my lifetime who has reached such a senior leadership position while being as consistently progressive as Jochum.

My impression is that many on the "Democratic wing" of the party have already committed to caucus for Bernie Sanders. Others feel conflicted as I do, drawn to Sanders for his passion and his uncompromising policy agenda, while recognizing Clinton's strengths as a candidate and what it would mean for this country to elect a woman president. That Jochum is on board with Clinton could carry a lot of weight with undecided Democrats like me.

Before today, eight Democratic state senators and nine state representatives had already endorsed Clinton for the 2016 caucuses. I've enclosed the full list after the jump, along with excerpts from Jochum's Des Moines Register op-ed.

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Weekend open thread: Can dish it out but can't take it edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 27, 2015 at 11:44:00 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome. Several stories related to Twitter-blocking and being thin-skinned caught my attention recently. Excerpts from the articles linked here are after the jump.

A thirteen-year-old conservative commentator and youth outreach coordinator for Senator Ted Cruz made a splash this week by alleging President Barack Obama had blocked him on Twitter. Unfortunately for CJ Pearson, Oliver Darcy researched the story for the conservative website The Blaze and concluded that Pearson's claim "appears to be false." Dave Weigel explored more background on the controversy and the "Pearson phenomenon" in this piece for the Washington Post.

In addition to being dishonest, Pearson made a rookie mistake. He could have gotten even more attention if he'd lied about Hillary Clinton blocking him. As Jon Allen advised in his excellent piece on the media's "5 unspoken rules" for covering the Democratic front-runner, a surefire way to drive traffic is to "Write something nasty about a Clinton, particularly Hillary."

A few weeks ago, I was surprised to discover that conservative talk radio host Steve Deace had blocked me on Twitter. It had been months since I'd last tangled with him. After asking around, I learned that Deace blocked other progressives around the same time, including Christian Ucles, who has worked on several Democratic campaigns and is now Iowa political director for the non-partisan League of United Latin-American Citizens. A Facebook friend shared a screenshot of a Deace tweet asserting, "some Marxist 'media watch dog' must have taken me out of context again. I'm busy blocking their vulgar trolls." Bleeding Heartland has noticed before that Deace has little clue about what "Marxist" means. But I've never used crude or obscene language in commenting on his flawed analysis, and I try to avoid the name-calling that is a Deace hallmark (e.g. "Killary").

On September 25, Hannah Groch-Begley published a piece at Media Matters highlighting Chris Cillizza's intense focus on the Hillary Clinton e-mail story for the Washington Post blog The Fix. Commenting on the "highly instructive" headlines compiled by Groch-Begley, New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen added that Cillizza has blocked him. When I asked what triggered the blocking, Rosen pointed me to a tweet in which Cillizza said he had done so "long ago" because "Rock throwing from the sidelines is the world's easiest profession."

I am stunned that any journalist would dismiss Rosen's huge body of published work on media criticism as "rock throwing from the sidelines." Scroll to the end of this post to read excerpts from Rosen's comments about being blocked by someone who exemplifies the "savvy style" of reporting. Better yet, click through to read that whole post.

For what it's worth, Cillizza stands by his choice to write more than 50 posts on the Clinton e-mail controversy. He has previously said he does not "keep track of how many 'good' or 'bad' things I write about each side" and views his role as reporting and analyzing news without grading whether it's positive or negative for a given candidate. Groch-Begley pointed out that "nearly all" of Cillizza's posts about the e-mails include "dire warnings about the supposedly 'massive political problem.'"

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Policy contrasts with Republicans are focus of new Hillary Clinton tv ad

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Sep 26, 2015 at 11:26:08 AM CDT

Hillary Clinton's first three television commercials in Iowa focused on positive messages about her family background and values, her work before and during her political career, and her commitment to supporting the middle class.

The latest spot to hit Iowa tv screens contrasts Clinton's priorities with those of Republicans on issues that affect women, families, college students, and the middle class as a whole. Her campaign rolled out the new ad yesterday. I assume more new commercials will come soon, since Clinton plans to stay on the air in Iowa and New Hampshire through October.

After the jump I've enclosed a video and annotated transcript of the new Clinton ad. Going negative on Republicans is a smart move, which will resonate with many committed Iowa Democrats. A commercial criticizing Bernie Sanders, Clinton's main rival for the Democratic nomination, would likely backfire with the caucus-going crowd.

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Iowa Democratic caucus links and latest polls

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 24, 2015 at 12:59:06 PM CDT

It's been a while since Bleeding Heartland had a discussion thread about the Democratic caucus campaign. After the jump I've posted highlights from the latest opinion polls of Iowa Democrats and other links on campaign infrastructure and strategies. Whether Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is building a stronger Iowa organization so far is an open question.

Any comments about the caucuses are welcome in this thread.

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A deep dive into Iowa Caucus History

by: fladem

Sun Sep 13, 2015 at 10:47:13 AM CDT

(Although I've been following Iowa politics for a long time, some of these patterns were news to me. Looking forward to the rest of this series. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

This is part of a series on primary polling history. Over the next three weeks we will do a detailed look at the history of the Iowa Caucuses from 1980 to now. This piece will start with an initial look at the data. I should note that I firmly believe that most writing about politics is rather ignorant. Few political writers about primary politics know very much about the history of the events they are covering. As I hope to show, if you look at the history, you can find lessons that you can apply to our understanding of the 2016 Caucuses. This table compares the winner in Iowa with their average in polling in the two weeks before and after September 1st.

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Quinnipiac is first pollster to show Sanders leading Clinton in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 10, 2015 at 09:20:00 AM CDT

Quinnipiac is out with a new poll showing 41 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers favor Bernie Sanders, to 40 percent for Hillary Clinton, 12 percent for Joe Biden, 3 percent each for Martin O'Malley and undecided, 1 percent for Jim Webb, and less than 1 percent for Lincoln Chafee. Although several polling firms have shown Sanders ahead in New Hampshire, no previous survey has found him closer than 7 points behind Clinton in Iowa.

Quinnipiac's poll surveyed 832 "likely Iowa Democratic Caucus participants" between August 27 and September 8, producing a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent. Other Iowa polls in the field either during that window or a few days before it found Clinton leads ranging from 7 points (Selzer & Co's survey for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics) to 11 points (NBC/Marist) to 25 points (Loras College) to 28 points (a Gravis Marketing survey that inexplicably included Elizabeth Warren).

Click here for the Quinnipiac polling memo and full results with questionnaire. The survey found "a wide gender gap among Democrats today as Sanders leads Clinton 49 - 28 percent among men, with 16 percent for Biden, while Clinton leads Sanders 49 - 35 percent among women, with 9 percent for Biden." Clinton's favorability rating of 76 percent is comparable to Sanders' 78 percent and Biden's 79 percent, but her unfavorable rating of 20 percent is much higher than that of Sanders or Biden (6 percent and 9 percent, respectively). Respondents rated Clinton higher for leadership qualities and "the right kind of temperament and personality to handle an international crisis as president."

The Quinnipiac Poll's assistant director Peter A. Brown compared Sanders to 1968 anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy, because he is "the candidate of the Democratic left, against his own party's bosses and their prized presidential candidate [...] Sanders has seized the momentum by offering a message more in line with disproportionately liberal primary and caucus voters."

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DNC still can't justify its limits on presidential candidate debates (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 09, 2015 at 17:00:00 PM CDT

Four Iowa Democratic county chairs made cogent arguments today for expanding the number of presidential debates before caucuses and primaries begin. In an accompanying statement, 27 local Democratic leaders in Iowa joined the call for more debates, starting sooner this year.

As usual, the Democratic National Committee failed to offer a compelling defense for their unprecedented and ridiculous policy limiting candidates to six officially sanctioned debates, starting in mid-October.  

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Labor Day weekend open thread, with new Iowa caucus polls

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 06, 2015 at 14:58:39 PM CDT

Happy Labor Day weekend to the Bleeding Heartland community! This is an open thread: all topics welcome. Click here for a brief history of the holiday.

For those wanting to enjoy the outdoors during the unofficial last weekend of summer, you may find some inspiration in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' list of fourteen "incredible hikes in our state parks and forests," here and here. I'm embarrassed by how few of those parks I have visited, but I can highly recommend the walking trails at the Ledges and Dolliver Memorial State Parks.

Three more polling firms have released new Iowa caucus surveys since last weekend's Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg news. Highlights are after the jump. All recent polls put Donald Trump and Ben Carson well ahead of the rest of the Republican field in Iowa. Bernie Sanders has clearly gained some ground on Hillary Clinton, but other polls have found a larger lead for the Democratic front-runner here than Selzer did.

Eric Boehlert was quick to criticize the media for giving Selzer's poll of Iowa Democrats such big play last weekend, even though it looks like an "outlier" in his view. I take his point, but the last time I said a Selzer poll appeared to be an outlier, I had to eat my words.

Before I get to the polls below, here's one for the "campaigns don't matter" crowd, who believe economic conditions largely decide presidential elections. The Moody's Analytics model "now predicts a Democratic electoral landslide in the 2016 presidential vote," with 326 electoral votes for the Democratic nominee and 212 to the Republican. Click through for more information on the Moody's methodology.

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DNC has no good answer to Martin O'Malley's case for more debates

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 31, 2015 at 19:25:03 PM CDT

Three days have passed since presidential candidate Martin O'Malley blasted the Democratic National Committee's "cynical move to delay and limit our own Party debates" during a speech to members and leaders at the DNC's summer meeting. I enclose below the full text of O'Malley's remarks, as prepared. The first section presses his case against the "unprecedented," "rigged process" for allowing only six presidential candidate debates. O'Malley noted that just four debates are scheduled before the early caucuses and primaries, and "the New Hampshire debate is cynically wedged into the high point of the holiday shopping season so as few people watch it as possible." For those who haven't had a chance to see O'Malley campaign yet, the other sections of his remarks are adapted from his standard stump speech.

I have yet to hear any good argument for limiting presidential debates. You won't find any response to O'Malley on the DNC's official website. While the governor's comments about debates were the big news from the summer meeting, dominating most media coverage of the event, the DNC's Twitter feed picked this bland quote to highlight: "'Whether or not we make the American Dream true again for all American families is up to us.' -@MartinOMalley #dems15"

At the Iowa State Fair, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz couldn't be distracted from her laundry list of talking points to respond to hecklers demanding more debates. Nor could she be bothered to engage with O'Malley's substantive case last Friday. CNN reported that Wasserman Schultz "spent most of the speech looking down at a table just feet from the governor," rarely clapping. Asked about O'Malley's claim that it might be illegal for the national party to prohibit candidates from debating in non-sanctioned forums, the DNC leader told CNN, "I am quite confident that the process we have established is directly compliant with our rules and completely legal, whatever that means." But why is she so set on those rules?

Conventional wisdom says the DNC intervened in the process to put a thumb on the scale for Hillary Clinton. Although long-shot candidates arguably have more to gain from debates than the front-runner, I reject the premise that the DNC's asinine policy helps Clinton. She and all Democrats would benefit from a large national audience watching five (or perhaps six) candidates intelligently discuss issues that matter to people's lives. More important, Democratic voters should have more than a handful of chances to see our candidates side by side.

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Big gains for Bernie Sanders in new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 29, 2015 at 18:15:00 PM CDT

Hillary Clinton has a real fight on her hands in Iowa, according to the latest poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News. Among 404 likely Democratic caucus-goers surveyed between August 23 and 26, Clinton is the first choice of 37 percent, followed by Bernie Sanders (30 percent), Joe Biden (14 percent), "not sure" (8 percent), "uncommitted" (6 percent), Martin O'Malley (3 percent), Jim Webb (2 percent), and Lincoln Chafee (1 percent. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

When respondents did not have the option of selecting Biden, Clinton was the first choice of 43 percent of respondents, while 35 percent picked Sanders.

The Selzer poll will worry the front-runner's campaign, especially since two surveys of New Hampshire Democrats have now shown Sanders leading Clinton in the first primary state. Notably, Selzer found Sanders way ahead among caucus-goers under age 45 (50 percent to 27 percent), among first-time caucus-goers (43 percent to 31 percent), and among independents likely to participate in the Democratic caucuses (a 21-point lead, but I don't see the numbers in the write-up by Jennifer Jacobs). Caucus-goers who are "feeling the Bern" are not driven by "anyone but Hillary" sentiment. Some 96 percent of respondents backing Sanders are doing so "mostly because [they] support him and his ideas"; just 2 percent said Sanders is their first choice mostly because they do not support Clinton.

The poll is horrendous news for O'Malley, who has worked his heart out campaigning in Iowa. Since 2013, he has visited the state fifteen times, spending all or part of 29 days here. Every time I've seen O'Malley in person, his stump speech has been well-received, but Sanders seized the progressive/liberal niche early. I don't see a path for O'Malley to become viable in most of the state's precincts. While he has been filling small and medium-sized venues, Sanders has been drawing ridiculously large crowds all over the state, most recently at the Des Moines Register's Iowa State Fair soapbox. At events where there is no externally-imposed time limit, Sanders keeps the crowd's attention for over an hour, not counting time he spends answering questions.

I will update this post as the Register publishes more data from the new survey. A separate post will cover the latest Selzer poll findings on Republican presidential candidates in Iowa.

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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?

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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.

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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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