‘It’s all about earning the support’
Sen. Kamala Harris stumps in Fort Dodge
FORT DODGE — With the Iowa Caucuses less than three months away, Democratic candidates for president are zeroing in on Iowa voters and looking to gain their support as the first-in-the-nation caucuses loom ever nearer.
Sen. Kamala Harris, of California, is polling at just 4% with likely voters in Iowa, according to the latest poll from Quinnipiac University. During a campaign stop in Fort Dodge on Sunday, the senator said that information isn’t slowing down her push toward the caucuses.
“We have been practically living in Iowa,” Harris said. “Doing the work of everything from being with families in their living rooms to cooking with families to doing larger events with hundreds of people. It’s all about earning the support.”
Harris said her campaign is seeing many Iowans attending campaign events and signing up to caucus or volunteer with the campaign.
“And the reality is there’s still so many Iowans, the majority, that have not made a decision, so I am here to be where the people are and to hopefully earn their support and I’m committed to doing that,” she said.
Harris began her day in Fort Dodge with a faith breakfast and fellowship at Second Baptist Church, where she met with church members and members of the community and chatted about their concerns and policy questions.
Brent Newton, of Fort Dodge, asked about the senator’s commitment to supporting the Native American constituency.
“It just seems like the Native Americans are kind of forgot about because most of our Natives are on reservations, so they’re not out into the mainstream society,” Newton said.
He said that the Native American population is forgotten and ignored unless something happens like the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which catapulted the Standing Rock Indian Reservation into the national spotlight throughout 2016 and 2017.
“I just felt like it was my duty to speak up for my people since I’m here,” Newton said.
“I specifically in my plan talk about our indigenous people and how you’ve been here for thousands of years and we can learn from you because it has always been part of the culture to honor this earth and to engage in practices that have been about honoring, that have been about conservation,” Harris responded.
She said on Day 1 of her presidency, she will stop drilling on public lands.
“I will always protect the sovereignty of the tribes and your right on your land to make decisions in your best interests and not have another government tell you what to do,” Harris said.
Newton was satisfied with the senator’s response to his questions.
“This is the first time I’ve heard her speak,” he said. “What she said has gotten me very intrigued and I want to follow and see how she does in the road to the presidency. I would gladly give her my vote for the presidency.”
Odell Woodley, of Fort Dodge, is a member at Second Baptist Church.
“I just wanted to meet her up close, and I think she’s doing a really great job campaigning,” Woodley said of Harris.
Woodley said she thinks it will be interesting to see how the field of Democrats wanes between now and the Democratic National Convention in July 2020.
“I just want someone to get in there that can run the country,” she said. “I just want anybody else other than who’s in there (the White House). But she’s impressive; I’d like to see her go one-on-one with the one in the White House now.”
Following the faith breakfast and delivering a short speech at the beginning of Second Baptist’s worship service, Harris hosted a meet-and-greet at River Hops Brewing in downtown Fort Dodge.
Throughout her speeches and conversations with voters and community members, Harris kept going back to the same theme each time — “Justice is on the ballot.”
“At Fort Dodge, for the people, at this moment I stand before you, fully intent to defeat Donald Trump,” Harris told the crowd at River Hops. “And so I believe justice is on the ballot in 2020 and that’s why I’m running.”
“Economic justice” is on the ballot because Harris plans to pass the biggest middle class tax cut in generations, she said.
“Health care justice is on the ballot,” the senator said. “So I’m running for president to say everyone in our nation … should have access to the healthcare they need to relieve their pain or improve their quality of life and should not be a function of how much money they have in their pocket, so I’ve got a Medicare for All plan.”
“Justice for our children,” “education justice” and “justice for immigrants” were more points the senator stressed.
“Justice is on the ballot in 2020 – and I say this in all seriousness – when we have a criminal living in the White House,” Harris concluded to loud applause from the crowd.
Harris said her campaign has hundreds of volunteers and has “probably one of the biggest staffs in Iowa of any candidate.”
“For those who watched the Liberty and Justice Dinner, you would know that our campaign probably received some of the greatest feedback and applause in that room because our message is resonating in Iowa, and it’s a message about saying justice is on the ballot and there needs to be a person who is the nominee of the Democratic party who has the ability to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump, but also has the ability to unify our country and I know I am a candidate who can actually do that and accomplish that,” she said. “We’re going to continue putting our resources toward signing people up and harnessing that enthusiasm.”