DES MOINES — Iowa Democrats are hopeful a “blue wave” will sweep their party back into some measure of power in this fall’s midterm elections.
But a caution and a call to arms were made by Democratic leaders, including one of the top two Democrats in the country, Sunday night at a county party fundraiser here.
Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House minority leader and a congresswoman from California, joined local leaders in calling on all Democrats — “from volunteers ... to VIPs,” Pelosi said — to do the grass roots work that will help Democrats enjoy electoral success in November.
Pelosi said she has a response for whenever someone asks whether Democrats are poised for a blue wave or tsunami this fall.
“Whatever it is, it’s going to be a lot of small droplets of water,” Pelosi said, imploring the more than 320 attendees to do everything in their power to help elect Democrats.
The party is looking to rebound after disastrous elections in 2014 and 2016. Republicans control the White House and Congress, and in Iowa control the governor’s office and both chambers of the Legislature.
Democrats are hopeful that backlash against Republican policies implemented over the past two years at the federal and state level, combined with a low approval rating for GOP President Donald Trump, will help Democrats win big in November’s midterm elections.
Iowa Democrats in particular hope to flip congressional seats in eastern and central Iowa, and possibly control of the Iowa House.
“This election is not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about America. It’s about the values of our founders,” Pelosi said.
Republican Party of Iowa chairman Jeff Kaufmann criticized Democrats for bringing Pelosi to speak to Iowa Democrats. Kaufmann pointed to Pelosi’s national approval ratings — an average of 29 percent favorable and 49 percent unfavorable, according to the Huffington Post’s poll tracker — and described her as the latest California liberal to speak in Iowa, following Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and preceding billionaire activist Tom Steyer.
“We’re talking about San Francisco extreme liberals. That’s who the Democrats are bringing in,” Kaufmann said. “I’ve been in seven generations of rural Iowa, and I’m here to tell you that we have little to nothing in common with the San Francisco left.”
Sean Bagniewski, chairman of the Polk County Democrats, who hosted Sunday’s event, said Democrats are a “big tent party” and noted his group also recently has hosted Democrats Tim Ryan from Ohio and Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota.
“We brought (Pelosi) here because she is a part of that national conversation. She is the most powerful Democrat in the United States of America. She’s one of the most powerful women in world history,” Bagniewski said. “I think the better question would be why wouldn’t we have her here?”
Pelosi criticized federal Republican policies on health care, taxes, budget spending and senior health care and retirement programs.
She also struck some Iowa-specific notes by criticizing Trump’s “tariff brinkmanship,” proposed trade tariffs that state agricultural leaders have warned could hurt Iowa farmers, and moves by the administration that have threatened to weaken the federal ethanol mandate, which also could hurt the state’s agriculture economy.
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Pelosi noted another of the night’s speakers, a representative from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, told Iowa Republicans who just approved a law banning most abortions, “We’ll see you in court.”
“What we want to say to the Republicans,” Pelosi said, “is, ‘We’ll see you at the polls.’ ”
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