Government

In question-and-answer, Elizabeth Warren gives audience her two-cents worth

IOWA CITY — Maureen Vasile likes that Elizabeth Warren “has a plan for that,” especially to end what the Massachusetts senator called the “Trump-made crisis at the border.”

“A great nation lives its values every day and that means we treat people who come to our borders with humanity and respect. That’s who we are,” Warren said in response to Vasile’s question during a campaign event Monday in Iowa City. As president, Warren said she would expand legal immigration and create a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the country.

“I like what I hear. She’s upfront and honest — and that’s huge in politics today,” said Vasile, who works with immigrants at the Catholic Worker House.

Immigration was one of many issues Warren addressed in an hourlong-plus question-and-answer session with more than 300 people at the University of Iowa Memorial Union.

Warren, who has seen her lead in the Iowa caucus campaign slip in recent polls, shifted to the question-and-answer format at a town hall Sunday at Linn-Mar Excelsior Middle School in Marion and returned to it Monday.

However, she said the change is unrelated to her poll numbers. Instead, it’s an opportunity to hear from more people.

“We got to do, I think, 15 questions today across a whole range of issues,” Warren told reporters. “It’s fun to be able to do that, and I think it’s fun for people.”

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So like Valise, those whose tickets were drawn from a basket were able to ask Warren about their issues — health care, climate change, caring for seniors, guns and the value of public service. Repeatedly, Warren said the issues — and the solutions — are related and all tied to her proposal for a 2-cent tax on wealth exceeding $50 million.

Sherri Zastrow of Iowa City, who hasn’t made up her mind about who to support in the Feb. 3 caucuses, found the wealth tax appealing.

“I supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, so you can see I lean in that direction,” Zastrow said.

Warren’s plan for using the wealth tax to finance higher education motivated Taylor Beye to travel from Kirksville, Missouri, where she attends Truman State University.

“It seems like a good idea,” Beye said about the wealth tax. “My loans are piling up.”

As a college student and aspiring high school teacher, Beye also likes Warren’s plans for education — including universal free public college and canceling student loan debt for 43 million people.

The wealth tax also would pay for universal child care and pre-K and raise the wages of child care workers, Warren said.

Sitting next to Beye was Jasmine Binder, who drove in from Chicago. She asked Warren about health care, especially improving access for underrepresented populations.

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Binder liked Warren’s commitment to access to the “full range of health care services for women, including access to abortion because that is part of what we do as a country.”

“Her background is the strongest of the candidates,” Binder said. “I’ve never seen someone so unapologetic for their views. She’s not scared. She has the experience, too, to push the country forward after this administration.”

Della McGrath of Iowa City was in the front row, but not to hear Warren talk about a specific issue. She was there to support who she believes is the most qualified candidate. McGrath hopes that’s enough to get Warren elected.

“I want to see the first female president,” she said, “but I don’t know if a woman can be elected.”

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

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