DES MOINES — Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack sees “far too many similarities” between what majority Republicans are doing in Washington and Des Moines, and is trying to help his party recover from two cycles of election losses.
Republicans are “basically pushing through as many of their, I think, very much anti-people programs here,” Loebsack said during a visit to the Iowa Statehouse Wednesday. “Clearly, when you get rid of collective bargaining or eviscerate it to the extent they do that’s going to hurt a lot of people here in Iowa.”
The reaction in Iowa mirrors the reaction across the country from people concerned with the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, he said.
If there is an upside, Loebsack said, it’s the grass roots reactions being seen at congressional town hall meetings this week and in events such as the Women’s March in Washington. For many people, he said, “it’s the first time these people are doing anything political at all because they understand what’s at stake.”
He dismissed President Donald Trump’s Twitter suggestion the demonstrations, such as those Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are seeing in Iowa this week, have been orchestrated. It’s part of Trump’s strategy to delegitimize the reaction to him and his policies, Loebsack said.
“I have to tell you, I was taken aback by the energy and power of this movement,” he said.
Loebsack attended Trump’s inauguration Jan. 20 and joined his daughter at the Women’s March the following day.
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“The energy was amazing on the 21st,” Loebsack said. “I don’t want to get into the crowd size issue and all that, but I saw with my own eyes there were far more people on the 21st than the 20th. It was powerful. It was civil. It was remarkable. It was incredibly inspiring to be there.”
Loebsack is backing fellow U.S. House Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota as Democratic National Committee chairman. He believes Ellison can bring together the Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders factions of the party.
“He’s got the same 50-state strategy that Howard Dean had. He’s talking about working at the very grass roots level to capture the energy we see out there,” Loebsack said.
He hopes the Iowa party can capture some of that, too, before the 2018 governor’s race. Loebsack has talked to a number of people who are thinking about running, but doesn’t have a favorite.
“I don’t have anybody that I’m choosing or any of that at this point and I’m not sure I’ll be doing that anyway,” he said.
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