Iowa set the stage

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Iowa mattered, despite the Democratic Party falling on its face trying to report results. The New Hampshire results Tuesday evening showed that Iowa helped propel Bernie Sanders to the front, narrowly ahead of Pete Buttigieg. Iowa set the stage for Amy Klobuchar to build momentum and catch Granite State attention in the televised debate last Friday night, where she excelled. And, Iowa put Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren to the rear, a result confirmed with an exclamation point in the first national primary.

The Iowa Caucuses probably are doomed because the Democratic National Committee wants it that way. But our role in winnowing the field was confirmed, and that the caucuses give momentum to the top campaigns coming out of the Tall Corn State.

Klobuchar was just beginning to build support as the caucuses were held Feb. 3. She and Buttigieg did extremely well in rural areas. They repeated that performance in New Hampshire. Klobuchar put herself in a contest with the former South Bend mayor for support among moderate Democrats, while Sanders appears to have consolidated support from the party’s progressive wing.

Klobuchar and Buttigieg will face tough questions in South Carolina and Nevada from African-American and Latino voters. Klobuchar ran for the Senate as a tough district attorney from Minneapolis (the result was a lot of young black men in jail), and she carries the same baggage that Kamala Harris did. Buttigieg continues to feel heat back home for the actions of the South Bend Police Department.

Biden has had strong support among the important black constituency in South Carolina. That support could quickly erode if the former vice president is deemed unelectable following his shellacking in the first two states. Polling indicates that Michael Bloomberg is getting a close look from black voters, but for stop-and-frisk. Sanders is not to be under-estimated among voters of color who are left out of the American Dream.

Warren argues that she is the candidate who can unite the progressive and moderate wings of the party. She has strong organizations in Nevada and the Super Tuesday states. But she had a star organization in Iowa that could not deliver because she was not present. She was rebuffed in New Hampshire a short drive from her headquarters in Boston. A third of New Hampshire voters said in exit polls they do not believe a woman can beat President Trump. That’s dispiriting.

The fact remains that Bernie Sanders won Iowa and New Hampshire. Voters in both states said health care and climate change were their two biggest issues. Sanders leads with those two issues. He leads President Trump in swing state matchups. Sanders can win in Nevada among Latinos who overwhelmingly support universal health coverage, and he can claim California on the climate change issue. He can win in Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan — as can nearly any Democrat. He is the front-runner not because he is perceived as most electable, but because he directly addresses the issues that matter most to real voters. That must not be ignored.

A political document

President Trump’s budget makes big cuts to the agriculture and energy departments, slashing conservation funding and renewable energy programs along with that old enemy food stamps. The budget was a political document crafted for the campaign. It means nothing. All spending bills originate in the House, according to the Constitution (which might still be in effect). The House is controlled by Democrats. The ag and energy program cuts are going nowhere despite this dreamy Trump budget. He will try to eliminate programs through executive order and bypass Congress entirely. The November election should cure that problem. Trump is trying to eliminate or scale back popular programs from wind energy production tax credits to the Conservation Stewardship program to Social Security. The President is on track with corporations but not the people, and the people have the last word. Last we knew.

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