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Iowa democrats look ahead to 2020

'We've got to go for the greater good of winning this election, no matter what.'

Posted: Dec 28, 2018 7:20 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The romance of Barack Obama's surprise victory in Iowa hangs like a championship banner in the minds of Democrats in the state more than a decade after they set him on the road to being the nation's first African- American president.

But as they begin to think about Iowa's 2020 presidential caucuses — in which as many as two dozen Democratic candidates may seek their support — the wistfulness is fading fast. The same early Obama supporters who admit to being swept off their feet by the then-Illinois senator are now looking steely-eyed for someone who can simply seize the presidency from Donald Trump.

"We've got to go for the greater good of winning this election, no matter what," said Nancy Bobo, an early Iowa Obama backer who attended a 10-year commemoration of the 2008 campaign at a Des Moines bar this year. "We need to learn to compromise in a way that moves us ahead, and not keep looking back."

More than a year away, the 2020 caucuses are already shaping up for many of Obama's earliest supporters to be more about their heads than their hearts.

"The innocence in us wants to fall in love," said Niki Neems, an Iowa City Democratic activist who pledged herself to Obama before he even announced his candidacy. "But whoever we all think stands the best chance, then let's get out there and start door-knocking. So, for me, it's OK to just fall in like."

The shift among Obama's devout supporters reflects the baggage many of them are carrying into the next caucus campaign. For one, Iowa Democrats uniformly criticize Trump as uniquely harmful to U.S. institutions and the nation's international standing. But there's also a sense that Hillary Clinton's doomed bid for the presidency began in Iowa, where Democrats didn't warm to her in the same way they did to Obama.

Neems and others said that lack of an emotional connection contributed to Clinton only narrowly beating Bernie Sanders in Iowa in 2016, foreshadowing the trouble she'd face in taking on Trump.

Now, some Democrats say they want to pay less attention to their feelings and focus more on a candidate with a serious plan to reverse Trump's actions.

"People can connect with someone as long as they have a vision, have big ideas, and can express them," said Tricia Zebrowski, a retired University of Iowa professor who was among the first to pledge her support for Obama. "That's the kind of person who can wrest the presidency from Trump."

In fact, she speaks highly of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, hardly a dynamic speaker on par with Obama. But Zebrowski said Klobuchar has impressed her as embodying common sense and projecting little of the ego that Trump exudes.

More than a dozen Democrats weighing 2020 presidential campaigns have already begun testing their ability to connect with Iowans. Notably, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker paced the stage at an Iowa Democratic Party fall banquet, repeatedly quoting Martin Luther King in a sermon-like speech to 1,200 of the state's most influential party activists, officials and donors in October.

There's a recognition among many of Obama's early supporters that his rise in Iowa was a unique moment in American politics, attributable in part to his own personal strengths at retail politics, his soaring oratory and his familiarity with street-level political organizing, which is key to delivering support for the caucuses.

The combination elevated the African American in the vastly white state over not just the establishment favorite, Clinton, but also former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who had spent nearly six years building goodwill, especially among rural Iowa Democrats.

Obama seemed right for the times, offering hope first during the divisive Iraq war and then a devastating financial collapse. In 2020, Democrats will look to someone matched specifically to contrast with Trump, said Dale Todd, one of Obama's earliest activists in the Cedar Rapids area.

"If you try to replicate it, it ends up being false," said Todd, who also attended the commemoration this year. "The intangible was Obama."

And while they are older and wiser, some of Obama's first devotees say change, as it was in 2008, will again be the winning message.

"We'd be kidding ourselves if we kept looking for Obama in every single presidential hopeful," said Deidre DeJear, Iowa Democrats' 2018 candidate for Iowa secretary of state who worked on Obama's 2008 campaign as a college student. "But people are ready for change. They don't know what change looks like. But when it shows up, they know what it feels like."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295001

Reported Deaths: 3535
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin624331107
Ramsey26238493
Anoka20851224
Dakota20527189
Stearns13245106
Washington13220111
St. Louis8141108
Scott798154
Wright720338
Olmsted639934
Sherburne552241
Clay473356
Carver443213
Blue Earth395813
Rice393335
Kandiyohi378719
Crow Wing344731
Nobles301429
Chisago29799
Otter Tail288820
Benton285847
Winona266629
Mower248523
Douglas242235
Polk238223
Morrison224027
Lyon206711
Beltrami202517
McLeod198511
Becker194015
Goodhue190628
Steele18336
Itasca179123
Isanti179016
Todd173912
Carlton170414
Nicollet154925
Freeborn14795
Mille Lacs145131
Le Sueur141111
Waseca135911
Cass133310
Brown131215
Pine12788
Meeker11638
Roseau11074
Hubbard107523
Martin105520
Wabasha9941
Redwood87518
Dodge8230
Chippewa8157
Watonwan8104
Cottonwood7942
Renville77322
Sibley7564
Wadena7476
Aitkin71729
Rock7149
Pipestone69618
Houston6534
Fillmore6510
Yellow Medicine61511
Pennington6137
Murray5623
Kanabec55713
Swift5448
Faribault5251
Pope5071
Clearwater4817
Stevens4813
Jackson4581
Marshall4508
Lake3916
Unassigned38659
Koochiching3675
Wilkin3605
Lac qui Parle3513
Lincoln3331
Norman3307
Big Stone2962
Mahnomen2834
Grant2566
Red Lake2033
Kittson2027
Traverse1391
Lake of the Woods941
Cook630

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 223783

Reported Deaths: 2330
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33166333
Linn13991164
Scott1100384
Black Hawk10795134
Woodbury10255124
Johnson940036
Dubuque913491
Story674921
Dallas629057
Pottawattamie617069
Sioux366725
Webster357033
Cerro Gordo349644
Marshall346345
Clinton322840
Buena Vista302214
Muscatine282668
Des Moines282419
Warren276411
Plymouth270641
Wapello251571
Jones228413
Jasper214643
Marion202919
Lee199416
Carroll196422
Bremer192612
Henry18107
Crawford174115
Benton167418
Tama153340
Jackson143013
Delaware141021
Washington138214
Dickinson135810
Boone134811
Mahaska126127
Wright12226
Buchanan115410
Clay11504
Hardin114010
Page11144
Hamilton11009
Clayton10875
Harrison106629
Cedar106213
Calhoun10607
Kossuth10426
Floyd103916
Mills10297
Fayette102210
Lyon10188
Butler9916
Poweshiek98213
Winneshiek95812
Iowa93012
Winnebago91323
Hancock8547
Louisa84916
Grundy84611
Chickasaw8424
Sac8407
Cherokee8214
Cass80222
Allamakee79011
Appanoose77910
Mitchell7794
Humboldt7635
Shelby76111
Union7576
Emmet74924
Guthrie74115
Franklin73421
Jefferson7062
Madison6764
Palo Alto6474
Unassigned6470
Keokuk5777
Pocahontas5572
Howard5489
Greene5170
Osceola5171
Ida48113
Clarke4774
Taylor4603
Davis4548
Montgomery45011
Monroe43912
Adair4298
Monona4272
Fremont3553
Van Buren3545
Worth3540
Lucas3226
Decatur3160
Audubon2952
Wayne2957
Ringgold2082
Adams1652
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