In eastern Iowa, Kamala Harris highlights theme of justice

Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris highlighted campaign ideas related to working class issues and justice in her second Iowa tour a month after announcing her candidacy.


Nick Rohlman

Sen Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a town hall at the Quad Cities Wavefront Convention Center in Bettendorf, Iowa on Sunday Feb. 24, 2019.

Julia DiGiacomo, Politics Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, BETTENDORF — Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., outlined themes of upholding justice and truth in her eastern-Iowa campaign events Sunday, drawing on her experience as a district attorney and attorney general.

Harris’ tour throughout Iowa this past weekend marked her second trip to the Hawkeye State since announcing her presidential campaign in January. On Sunday afternoon, she spoke before a crowd of about 500 in Bettendorf and recorded a live podcast with the hosts of Political Party Live at CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids. Her Waterloo stop was canceled because of treacherous road conditions.

Highlighting her background in prosecution and law enforcement, Harris spoke about criminal-justice reform at both events.

“I have the ability to prosecute the case against the current occupant of the White House and make the case for change,” she said in Cedar Rapids.

She previously served as district attorney for San Francisco and Attorney General in California. Since 2017, she has represented California in the U.S. Senate.

Harris said she was running for president because the U.S. is at a critical moment in history.

“This is a moment where we have to restore opportunity in America for all people,” she said in Bettendorf. “We have to understand that over decades, the rules have been written in a way that have been an exclusion of working-class families in America.”

Nick Rohlman
Community Members applaud as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a town hall at the Quad Cities Wavefront Convention Center in Bettendorf, Iowa on Feb. 24, 2019.

To aid working-class Americans, Harris proposed a $6,000 tax break to help those spending over 30 percent of their income on housing.

RELATED: Where are the candidates campaigning in eastern Iowa? Keep up with The Daily Iowan’s candidate tracker

In her mission to “speak the truth,” Harris affirmed the existence of climate change and her support for the Green New Deal, called mass incarceration an injustice, and supported universal health care.

Various audience members in Bettendorf said they appreciated that Harris touched on issues regarding the American prison system.

“I think it stands out to me that she’s willing to speak the truth and is not going to shy away from it,” Allison Little said in Bettendorf. “I think she came out with a lot of really bold statements.”

Tim Commisso said he wished Harris would have spent more time addressing issues affecting college students, such as student debt. However, he thinks she has a strong chance against any other Democratic candidate.

“I think there’s three issues that need to be addressed if a Democrat is going to get in as president: education for college students, Medicare for all, and getting Citizens United flipped over,” Commisso said.

RELATED: Kamala Harris debuts in Iowa City ahead of midterms

Harris’ last stop in Iowa City was before the midterm elections, when she campaigned for Deidre Dejear, an unsuccessful candidate for Iowa secretary of state in 2018, and now-Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville.

Dejear declared in Bettendorf that she’s taken on the role of Harris’ state chair. She said she met with other Democratic presidential candidates but Harris was the inspiration she needed to get involved with campaigns again after her 2018 loss.

“It was very easy for me to make my decision because she believes in this mission,” she said. “She believes in the most foundational concept of what our country is supposed to be about.”