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Kamala Harris up for a good fight, and Iowa will be her battlefield

Presidential hopeful is increasing her presence in Hawkeye State

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaks June 9 at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Hall of Fame celebration at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex in Cedar Rapids. She will be in Cedar Rapids on Friday for the LGBTQ Presidential Forum sponsored by The Gazette, One Iowa, The Advocate and GLAAD. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaks June 9 at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Hall of Fame celebration at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex in Cedar Rapids. She will be in Cedar Rapids on Friday for the LGBTQ Presidential Forum sponsored by The Gazette, One Iowa, The Advocate and GLAAD. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Kamala Harris is up for a good fight, and her campaign is promising that Iowa will be her battlefield for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Harris, who is ramping up her Iowa campaign with more staff, more field offices and more campaign appearances, reminded audiences in Coralville and Cedar Rapids on Thursday that the nation has never achieved progress without a fight.

“As a nation, we’re up for a good fight if it’s about fighting for the best of who we are,” she said at the Kirkwood Community College recreation center.

The nation is at a moment in time “that requires us, individually and collectively, to look in the mirror and ask ‘who are we?’ ” the California senator said. “Part of the answer to that question is that we are better than this.”

Her campaign is promising that Iowa will see a lot more of the candidate who was overheard earlier this week telling another senator that she was moving to Iowa.

Introducing Harris, Stacey Walker of Cedar Rapids, a Linn County supervisor, said she would be welcome because “we all know we could use some more Democrats in the state of Iowa, but we sure could use a Democrat in the White House.”

Campaign staffers said the plan is for her to be in the first-in-the-nation caucus state every week during October.

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In addition to her presence, the campaign is increasing its footprint here with about 60 new hires, not transfers from other states, according to campaign manager Juan Rodriguez. The campaign also will increase its number of field offices from seven to 17, possibly including a second office in Cedar Rapids.

Harris continues to poll in single digits in Iowa and nationally. She’s at 5.7 percent in the Real Clear Politics national polling average, well behind former Vice President Joe Biden who is leading the field at nearly 29 percent. She is running fifth behind Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The results in Iowa are similar. Harris’ polling average in 8.5 percent, 10 percentage points behind Biden. However, a Focus on Rural America poll conducted by Harris’ pollster for another client showed her dropping by 13 percentage points in the state since the September Democratic National Committee debate. That also puts her behind Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Harris is trying to make the case to Iowa Democrats, who backed Barack Obama in 2008, to once again support a candidate who does not look like any previous nominee.

In her argument for support, Harris says that President Donald Trump wasn’t elected because things were going so well for voters, and he won’t be defeated by promising a return to a “normal” that wasn’t working for a large segment of voters.

“We’re not going back” to a time before civil rights, before voting rights, before Roe v. Wade,” Harris said. “There is no question it’s time to turn the page on the current administration and remember that’s not Donald Trump’s White House, that’s our house.”

Harris has events planned in Cedar Falls and Waterloo on Friday before returning to Cedar Rapids to participate in the LGBTQ Presidential Forum sponsored by The Gazette, One Iowa, The Advocate and GLAAD. The event is sold out, but will be livestreamed here.

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

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