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Elizabeth Warren vows anti-corruption policies as voters narrow their picks

With caucuses a week away, Democratic candidate draws 900 at Cedar Rapids event

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks Sunday during a town hall at NewBo City Market in Cedar R
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks Sunday during a town hall at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Just a week before the Iowa caucuses, as voters continue to narrow their options in the Democratic field, Elizabeth Warren emphasized her ability to fight for America’s working class by rooting out corruption during a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids.

About 900 people gathered in NewBo City Market on Sunday for the town hall, where Warren was introduced by “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness.

Van Ness has been serving as her surrogate while Warren is in the U.S. Capitol for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, which began in the Senate last week and prevents the Democratic candidates in the Senate during the week from campaigning in Iowa ahead of the caucus.

Fresh off her endorsement from the Des Moines Register Editorial Board, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts emphasized her ability to root out corruption in Washington, D.C., with her well-known tagline of big, structural changes.

“If there is a decision to be made in Washington, I guaranteed it has been influenced by money,” Warren said. “And if we are going to have a government that works for us, a democracy that works for us, we can’t just nibble around the edges. We can’t say ‘well, we’ll make a little change over here and a little change over there’ and still leave those with money in charge.

“No, it’s going to take big structural change,” she said. “And I’ve got a plan for that.”

Though her well-known motto was apparent, an underlying point in Warren’s speech was her ability to beat Trump for the presidency in November. During questions from the audience, an individual asked: “Why should Iowans caucus for you?”

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“I know how to fight, and I know how to win,” Warren answered, adding that she is the only Democratic hopeful who has beaten an incumbent Republican in 30 years.

For Avery Pazour, a 21-year-old Luther College student and first-time caucusgoer, the question of who can knock Trump out of office was never an issue in deciding on a candidate.

“This is the time to fight for the candidate that fits your belief system the best, rather than thinking ‘this person will definitely be elected over the other person,’” she said. “I never considered that maybe she wasn’t electable because she’s a woman. I love what she stands for, and I will fight with her to get her to the presidency.”

As voters continue to narrow their options with only eight days to go before the caucuses, some attendees said they solidified Warren as their first pick.

“I was impressed by how clearly she’s a strong advocate and believes in what she’s saying,” said James Pazour, a 50-year-old Cedar Rapids resident. “You can see it in the way that she presents herself, which is great to see.”

Cedar Rapids resident Shannon Mullan, 53, said she decided to caucus for Warren after Sunday’s town hall. She supported Bernie Sanders in the lead-up to the 2016 election, but in this round, “he seems like he’s not passionate, he just wants to win.”

However, she said Sanders still is her second choice.

Many other voters still are undecided. And because of that, the polls can move “in any direction,” said Cedar Rapids City Council member Dale Todd.

“The reality of it is that most of our people are uncommitted,” he said. “Things will move. It’s matter of what happens in two days or what happens next weekend.”

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Sanders, a senator from Vermont, surged ahead in a new poll by the New York Times, finding he is the first choice Democratic candidate in the caucuses for 25 percent of Iowa voters who were surveyed. Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden followed at 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

According to the survey, Warren had dropped to 15 percent in the January survey from 22 percent in the October poll.

Todd and fellow City Council member Tyler Olson threw their support behind the candidate in their introductory speeches before the event. City Council member Ashley Vanorny has also publicly supported Warren ahead of the caucuses.

Sunday marked the first time Todd publicly endorsed Warren.

“I didn’t plan on this, but two weeks ago my candidate dropped out,” Todd said, referring to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Todd had endorsed Booker back in September.

Todd said he not only wanted a candidate with similar policies as Booker, but someone “who has the ability to connect with Americans across this country.”

“Elizabeth Warren for me is that person. She can win it.”

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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