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Delaney: 'I need Iowa to step forward'

Democrat running for president hopes for 'better-than-expected' caucus finish in Iowa

Former congressman John Delaney accepts a T-shirt Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, after appearing at an Iowa Caucus Consortium presidential candidate forum at the State Historical Building in Des Moines. (Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)
Former congressman John Delaney accepts a T-shirt Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, after appearing at an Iowa Caucus Consortium presidential candidate forum at the State Historical Building in Des Moines. (Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)

DES MOINES — Former congressman John Delaney said Thursday he’s counting on Iowans, especially those in rural communities, to deliver a “better-than-expected” finish for him in the Feb. 3 caucuses that will propel his campaign toward the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

Delaney, 56, who will launch his Heartland Startup Tour in North Liberty on Friday, said his business perspective and his plans to invest in infrastructure, people and communities are different from other Democrats in the crowded 2020 field and are resonating in rural areas as he makes his 37th campaign trip to Iowa.

“What I need Iowa to do is to step forward,” he said.

Many rural Democrats see him as “the only guy paying attention to me. He’s the only one talking about turning our communities around, and that’s a big problem in the country,” the former three-term U.S. representative from Maryland said.

“John Delaney needs my vote because he’s actually talking about what I care about and, if I can elevate his campaign by sending him out of Iowa with a bit of a ticket, that’s actually going to help him. That’s what I’m asking people to do. It’s really that simple,” he said in an interview after a Caucus Consortium forum at the State Historical Building.

“If you think the things I’m talking about are important and are not being talked about, then you’ve got to give me a boost. I’ll help you, but you’ve got to help me. That’s kind of what I’m saying,” Delaney added.

Despite visits to all 99 Iowa counties and numerous TV commercials in urban markets, Delaney has struggled to build support in pre-caucus public opinion polls, and he failed to qualify for this week’s nationally televised debate that featured a dozen 2020 Democratic contenders.

Delaney said it was “tough” not being on the national stage to project his ideas in a field where he has staked out a more-moderate position.

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“I think it’s hard to win the Iowa caucuses if you’re not in the debates, but I don’t think it’s impossible to come in fourth or fifth if you’re not,” he said.

That’s what Delaney said he is “banking on,” a fourth- or fifth-place finish in Iowa that would be regarded as “better than expected” and create momentum for him going into New Hampshire and other early states in the 2020 presidential selection process.

“I’m the only person running who was a leader in the private sector and a leader in government,” said Delaney, who was founder and CEO of two publicly traded companies that employed thousands before he successfully ran for Congress in 2012.

President Donald Trump “thinks he’s going to bet his whole campaign on the economy,” Delaney said. “You’ve got to have someone who can go toe to toe with him, and who better to do that than someone who started two businesses and they were successful?”

At his North Liberty event today, Delaney plans to focus on jobs, entrepreneurship, trade and access to capital, with a particular emphasis on rural and struggling communities and his vision for rebuilding rural economies and reversing the climate crisis in Iowa and across the nation.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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