DAVENPORT — If the Democratic Party wants to win elections, its first declared 2020 presidential hopeful said Friday that it needs to focus on jobs, rising wages and bringing people together.
U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Maryland, kicked off his sixth trip to Iowa with a stop in Davenport, Burlington and Tipton, touting bipartisanship.
That will be the theme of a television ad his campaign intends to run during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
But he also offered the case the party needs to focus its attention more sharply on economic matters, calling it a “missed opportunity” if the message strays from that path.
Delaney met with about 40 people brought together by local labor leaders at Hickory Gardens restaurant, the first of several stops he planned to make on Friday and Saturday.
Delaney echoed a theme offered by some in the party that Democrats should appeal to people by focusing on bread-and-butter issues.
“Every time the Democratic Party is not talking about either their jobs, their pay and what they’re going to do to create jobs and good pay for their children is a missed opportunity,” Delaney said.
Some critics of this approach have complained that focusing too narrowly on the economy, while appealing to voters who swung to Donald Trump in 2016, could hurt the party with other voters. They say it also gives short shrift to values.
Delaney rejected the idea those things aren’t important to him.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t support all the other issues. I do,” he told the group. “But we can’t be the party of a thousand flowers blooming, where we’ve got every little micro issue that we care about. If we want to win elections, we’ve got to talk to the American people about what they care about. And I think what they care about right now is they want us to be brought together.”
In an interview afterward, Delaney said the party should not elect candidates who don’t support “inclusiveness and equality.” But he added if Democrats want to win, they “we have to realize a very large percentage of the population is not totally dialed into politics all the time.”
Their worries, he said, are about their jobs and kids.
Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz, who attended the meeting, said the call for political healing appealed to her.
“I really do think people are tired of the partisanship,” she said. But she added the party can focus on more than just jobs, wages and the future of their kids. “I would include those, but I would probably add more, like diversity, mental health, crime,” she said.
Delaney announced his presidential candidacy last summer, and his early trips to Iowa are aimed at building name recognition. His campaign said he plans to spend $1 million on TV ads over the next month, starting with the Super Bowl ad.
His weekend swing includes a stop at a fundraiser for Abby Finkenauer, a Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, as well as a dinner for Clinton County Democrats.