Appearing at a fundraising event for outgoing U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) on Sunday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the gathered crowd of Democratic Party supporters, "Hello, Iowa. I'm baaaack!"
Regarding the widely held assumption that Clinton will run for president in 2016, she addressed the issue most directly by saying, "It is true I am thinking about it."
Though the clear front-runner in all polls that have so far tracked the next presidential election, Clinton is not without a potential Democratic or Independent challenger from her left flank. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—who has voiced repeatedly his belief that a populist sentiment is pervasive nationwide—was also in Iowa over the weekend and talked once again about his "serious" contemplation over a run at the nation's top office.
On Saturday night, Sanders held an event for approximately 450 people at Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines and on Sunday afternoon held a Town Hall event at the Center for the Arts in Waterloo.
Time magazine's Jay Newton-Small attended the event on Saturday in Des Moines and reported:
Most who showed were left-leaning populists who supported John Edwards in 2008 and consider themselves solidly in the anti-Clinton camp.
“I like the issues Bernie’s hitting, his anger, because I’m angry,” says Mark Brooks, 62, an Air Force veteran who believes Clinton is too “corporate” to be a good president. “This isn’t the country I defended,” he adds.
Sanders’ message resounded with Brooks. Sanders noted, “We have more people living in poverty than any other time in the history of the United States of America,” touching on 2008-era Edwards’ populist message on poverty.
“It’s a crying shame!” a man yelled in the audience.
“It is a crying shame,” Sanders replied.
Calling for a new jobs program, investment in education and the public funding of elections, Sanders highlights that economic disparity in America has never been greater.
And the Sioux City Journal covered the town hall meeting in Waterloo:
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[Sanders told the audience] his progressive political agenda would be ill-served by a poorly run presidential campaign. Sanders said if elected, his supporters would have to continue to fight for the issues they care about.
Though he said it would take the “active, unprecedented support of millions of people” to make the changes he proposes, he said America has made progress on disability rights, gay rights and gender and racial equity.
Sanders asked whether the audience would support him in a presidential bid. About two-thirds of the audience was on board.
There was a larger split when Sanders asked whether he should run as a Democrat or as an independent. Most of the audience, including [Rachel Antonuccio of West Branch], said he should run as a Democrat.
“I think you run as a Democrat because you want to push the debate, to Hillary (Clinton) or whoever it is, in the direction you want to see it go,” said Keith Kuper of Ackley. “You hit all the right notes here today, but I’m afraid if there isn’t someone like you running for president, then we’re not going to hear those notes at all. We need to hear those. We need to hear the establishment challenged.”
Antonuccio agreed. She wants a candidate who brings the conversation further to the left, speaks "truth to power” and is not corporate backed.
Appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, Sanders spoke plainly about the shortcomings of the Democratic Party leadership, the need for a candidate willing to take on the power of Wall Street and the corrupting influence of money in politics, his vision for a winning populist agenda, and what it would actually take for a progressive candidate to win.
“For me to win, it would require a grassroots effort on the part of literally millions of people. Unprecedented,” Sanders said. “What we need now is a political revolution.”
On a Presidential Run:
Bernie Talks Populism and the Democratic Party: