Suspicion of Clinton runs locally


John Moyers cheers for Senator Bernie Sanders while he speaks at the Johnson County Fairgrounds on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. This was Senator Sanders' second stop in Iowa that day in an attempt to gain support for his presidential campaign. (The Daily Iowan/Jordan Gale)

Bernie Sanders supporters say Hillary Clinton is not a true progressive as attendees draw the contrast at local Democratic event.

By Brent Griffiths  |  [email protected]

Eight years ago, Democratic presidential candidates at the Johnson County Democratic Party fall barbecue practically tripped over themselves to say where they differed and disagreed.

With a smaller field and only one candidate in attendance, this time the biggest contrasts did not originate from sound bites lobbed from the main stage. Interviews with supporters, elected officials and attendees illustrate the biggest differences were present before even a single chair was set up.

“I don’t know if my opinion whether Hillary is a true progressive,” said Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry.

Rewatching the speeches New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, and Congressman Dennis Kucinich delivered in 2007, it does not take long for one of them to say they were “the only candidate on the stage” who had the right take on a particular issue.

Carberry introduced Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and in the process unveiled his endorsement for the 74-year-old.  Speaking before he went on stage Carberry, a former chairman of the Johnson County Democrats, said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is only now beginning to get to positions where “Bernie has been for years.”

Sanders spoke in front of 300 attendees and raucous supporters who filled up the front row, sides and back of the building on the Johnson County Fairgrounds. The attendance was the highest of the day; many left before former Michigan Gov. and Clinton surrogate Jennifer Granholm arrived after a travel delay.

The biggest applause for Sanders came from lines on pay equity, family leave, mass incarceration, and debt-free college. The senator deviated little from the speech he given on the campaign trail — although he added a more forceful point about Social Security beneficiaries not receiving a cost of living adjustment 

Many Sanders supporters had similar views when asked about Clinton describing herself as a “progressive” during Tuesday’s Democratic presidental debate. In their words, Clinton dithers and delays on issues that are close to them — dismissing her recent criticism of artic drilling, the Transpacific Partnership, and the Keystone XL pipeline as coming far too late.

Questioning the timing of Clinton’s recent stances puzzles Sue Dvorsky, a former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party and a full-time volunteer for Clinton. And the suggestion that Clinton is not a progressive rings even more hollow to her.

“I think [Clinton] is remarkably progressive,” Dvorsky said. “This is a woman that went to China when her own president’s state department told her not to, whose first job out of law school was working at the Children’s Defense Fund that when health care reform was not going to pass didn’t just go to ground, but was instrumental in making sure that millions of children had access to health care.”

Gayle Luck of Iowa City said she likes Sanders a lot, but even someone with her views just does see how the senator’s much talked about “revolution” could happen.

“An old hippie like me loves Bernie Sanders, but I’ve yet to see a clear plan on how all of this happens,” Luck said.

Rep. Dave Loebsack is the lone Iowa Democrat in Washington and also endorsed Clinton earlier this past summer. He summed up what many of his fellow supporters said when asked why Clinton’s views.

“My own view is that however long it takes somebody to get to the right position, so long they get to the right position and when they become president and so long as they advocate that position and do everything can to make sure that position is what position that gets into law,” Loebsack said.

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