Government

Democrat Delaney sees big ideas as path to toppling Trump

Former Maryland congressman pitches ideas in Cedar Rapids

Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., in 2015. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Andrew Harnik
Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., in 2015. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Andrew Harnik

CEDAR RAPIDS — An Iowa audience Saturday gave Democratic presidential hopeful John Delaney high marks for an upbeat, solutions-oriented platform that includes universal health care, a carbon tax and reversing Republican tax cuts for the wealthy.

Delaney, a Maryland businessman, also said he favors lowering the national debt and called for optional national service.

However, the audience at his campaign field office at 2701 1st Ave NE in Cedar Rapids wondered whether good ideas by themselves will be enough to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020.

“I don’t know how you with your calm demeanor and your reasoning can go against a blustering blowhard,” Anne Salamon of Cedar Rapids told Delaney, who retired from Congress after three terms in the U.S. House. “You don’t excite people.”

“After two years of being excited every day I wake up — for not good reasons — you are a breath of fresh air ... a professional politician in a good way,” Bob Hamill of Cedar Rapids, a Maryland transplant of more than 35 years, told Delaney.

Despite weather conditions that delayed his arrival — “So this is caucus weather?” Delaney joked — his speech attracted more than 50 people. Many expressed excitement that, as Linn County Democratic Party Chairman Bret Nilles said, “Caucus season has officially begun.”

“People are interested to see who will step up,” he said.

Delaney was the first to step up and declare his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. He’s made 21 trips to Iowa and visited all 99 counties.

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And despite his placid personality, he has a plan for defeating the “current occupant.”

The way to defeat Trump and to build a new majority, Delaney said, is to produce big ideas, such as addressing climate change.

“We also have to be the party that attracts everyone, a big-tent party,” he said. “Big ideas, showing them how we can make it happen and being the party the American people are looking for.”

Americans, Delaney said, want to restore the country with citizenship, service and shared sacrifice.

“People have to re-engage in their democracy,” Delaney said. “They have to commit themselves to some level of service to this country and they have to believe in this concept of shared sacrifice. And we have to believe in something better.”

Bernard Clayton of Cedar Rapids was impressed by Delaney’s plans. He said they made him think of President Franklin Roosevelt’s approach to governing in the mid-20th century.

“That’s what we need,” he said later. “But I’m still shopping.”

A sign in the Delaney office says 387 shopping days remain until the caucuses.

• Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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