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Political Mercury

Clinton Big Bops GOP rivals in Holly’s house


Call it the night the Iowa Democratic Clinton doubts died.

Hillary Clinton didn’t sing. Or break out any instruments.

But, according to several key Iowa Democrats, and by measures of applause and animation in the audience, the presidential candidate rocked an audience of 2,000 Democratic Party regulars Friday in a fiery northern Iowa speech that took direct aim at Republican White House aspirants and strongly advocated President Obama’s foreign policy as well as the role of women in the workplace and American politics.

Hillary Clinton speaks to the Wing Ding dinner crowd in Clear Lake on Aug. 14.

Hillary Clinton speaks to the Wing Ding dinner crowd in Clear Lake on Aug. 14.

“She seems to be warming to the campaign and focusing her message,” said Tim Tracy, co-chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Party.

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One of the state’s top Democrats, who is neutral in the party nominating process, strongly agreed with the assessment that Clinton’s speech connected with the party base and may be the best she’s delivered in two White House runs here.

Clinton led off the roster of four Democratic presidential candidates speaking at the 23-county Democratic Party Wing Ding in Clear Lake’s Surf Ballroom, one of the state’s iconic music venues, the site of the Feb. 2, 1959, Winter Dance Party featuring Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) — all of whom died in a plane crash after performing that snowy night.

Clinton drew more sustained applause than U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican senator and governor who is seeking the Oval Office as a Democrat.

“Now, I know most of the attention these days is on a certain flamboyant frontrunner,” Clinton said, referencing Republican real-estate mogul Donald Trump.  “But don’t let the circus distract you. If you look at their policies, most of the other candidates are just Trump without the pizazz or the hair. Yes, Mr. Trump says outrageous and hateful things about immigrants, but how many of the other candidates disagree with his platform?”

None of the leading candidates, she said, support a real path to citizenship.

“Mr. Trump’s words are appalling, but so are the policies of the other candidates,” Clinton said. “Senator (Marco) Rubio brags about wanting to deny victims of rape and incest access to an abortion. Governor (Jeb) Bush says $500 million is too much to spend on women’s health. And they all want to defund Planned Parenthood.”

Clinton earned some of the strongest reaction to her comments on gender.

“I am so tired of politicians blaming and shaming women,” Clinton said.

Early in the speech, Clinton advocated for the recent Iranian nuclear deal with six nations led by the United States.

“Our path is clear,” Clinton said. “This agreement, combined with strong enforcement and deterrence, is the only way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  There is simply no viable alternative. That is why I strongly support President Obama.”

She also sought to apply humor to issues surrounding her email use.

“I know that people across the country are following us on social media as well,” she said. “By the way, you may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account.  I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.”

Sanders, a democratic socialist seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination, drilled into the nation’s wealth gap, repeatedly assailing a system of government he charges is stacked in favor of billionaires.

“This country belongs to all of us, not just a few billionaires,” Sanders said, adding that “corporate greed is destroying our economy.”

Sanders took a shot at the national media for what he said is a lack of focus on meaningful reporting.

“The mainstream media is prepared to discuss everything except the most-important issues,” Sanders said.

In his remarks, Sanders called for single-payer health insurance (“Medicare for all”), opposed the Keystone Pipeline, stressed his early opposition to the war in Iraq, and called for an American “political revolution.”

“This country is moving toward an oligarchic form of government,” Sanders said.

O’Malley stressed his record as a progressive with executive background. He served as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.

The audience feasted on some of O’Malley’s rhetorical shots at Republicans.

“Their party once had leaders and visionaries,” O’Malley said. “Lincoln asserted our unity and our common humanity. Eisenhower liberated the world and built our nation’s highway system to connect us. Now Republicans create traffic jams, denigrate New American immigrants and women, and dismiss everything from climate science to vaccines. Give them a few more weeks, and they’ll be shunning Copernicus.”

Chafee, who spoke as many in the ballroom were beginning to leave for their cars, said he “never had any scandals” as a Rhode Island politician. He also focused on his opposition to the war in Iraq and support for racial and social justice.

“If you have a tolerant society, your economy is going to prosper,” Chafee said. CV

The most recent Real Clear Politics aggregation of polling for the Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucuses shows the following results:

Hillary Clinton — 50.5 percent
Bernie Sanders — 26.3 percent
Joe Biden — 9.3 percent
Martin O’Malley — 4 percent
James Webb — 1.5 percent
Lincoln Chafee — 0.8 percent


Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.



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