Clinton, Sanders lead charge in Iowa


Supporters for Hillary Clinton march down 5th Ave in downtown Des Moines towards the Iowa Event Center on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Clinton held a rally before the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner where Katy Perry performed. (The Daily Iowan/Sergio Flores)

Last week was Hillary Clinton’s best week of the election.

Headlines from Politico to the Boston Globe flooded in, reporting the combination of solid polling, Clinton’s performance during her an 11-hour Senate hearing about Benghazi, and with two Democratic candidates dropping out of the race, was without a doubt casting a light on Clinton’s campaign.

Clinton ended her week at an event that was a pivotal moment for Barack Obama in 2007, the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

More than 6,600 were in attendance at the dinner at Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Event Center in Des Moines on Oct. 24.

Though Clinton remained strong, she stuck closely with her basic stump speech, with an added measure of support to President Obama. Her supporters were active and cheered at all the right moments during Clinton’s speech.

Clinton, however, was not the only one to have a good night.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had one of the most active crowd of the evening and even won an endorsement from Iowa Senate candidate Tom Fiegen.

For the first couple of minutes of Sanders’ 25-minute speech he ad-libbed, working the room and feeding off the energy of his supporters.

In a state where 5/6 of the congressional leaders are Republicans, along with a Republican governor, Sanders — a self-declared democratic-socialist and the most liberal presidential candidate — is garnering comparable support across the state to frontrunner Clinton.

“I think there was a lot of energy, we’re just a very passionate group of people and I think he matches that he’s a very passionate person as well,” said Cecilia Martinez, a freshman at Simpson College.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s section was a little sparse, even with the dinner starting almost an hour late.

Sanders said six months ago there were not many people who knew who he was, noting, “I may have a very big ego, but that’s the fact.”

“He was unelectable … remember that guy, oh yeah, it was President Obama,” Sanders said of political pundits who said Obama would never win the 2008 election. “Well, Iowa, I think we’re going to prove the pundits wrong again. I believe we will make history.”

Clinton is leading in Iowa with 42 percent, according to the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll. Sanders followed with 37 percent, while O’Malley was the choice candidate for only 2 percent of Democratic likely caucus-goers.

With 402 Democratic likely caucus-goers surveyed, there is a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

In the midst of Sanders’ electric crowd — the roars of “Bernie” chants and cheering — Sanders took the evening as an opportunity to show how he has stayed consistent in his views during his tenure as a senator during his speech.

From talking about his opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, which President Bill Clinton signed into law, to his opposition of invading Iraq, Sanders took jabs at Hillary Clinton without mentioning her name.

“I took the right road even if it was not popular at that time,” Sanders said on voting against the Iraq War. Clinton, however, voted in favor of the war when she was in the Senate.

He also brought up his opposition of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which Clinton had just come out in opposition of earlier this month. Previously, she said the agreement was a “gold standard.”

The verbal stabs at Clinton electrified the crowd and did not lessen support.

“The crowd was electric at every point he made,” said Jacob Bruns, a freshman at Simpson College. Bruns sat in the Sanders section.

Stewart Bass, a 20-year-old who is a student at Grinnell College, was sitting in the O’Malley section. He said he was able to get tickets for the event from O’Malley campaign volunteers.

Bass, who was in a group of a handful of students, said he is a registered independent, but is going to register as a Democrat to caucus on Feb. 1, 2016, which is 98 days away.

“I feel like it’s very important to get out to vote as soon as you are able to vote,” Bass said. “Your voice hasn’t been heard yet and you deserve to be heard.”

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