How are eastern Iowans reacting to Elizabeth Warren’s policy rollouts?

As presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren publishes policy proposals, such as one that would require the Department of Defense to establish a health registry, are stirring interest from those who attend her events.


Katina Zentz

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a presidential campaign event at the Tipton Family Restaurant in Tipton on Friday, April 26, 2019.

Sarah Watson, Politics Reporter


Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., posted a policy announcement in a Medium post on Friday aiming to improve military housing for families — which followed a plan unveiled on Monday to cancel up to $50,000 of student debt. Eastern Iowans coming out to see Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., this weekend reacted to the breadth and depth of policy plans the Warren campaign is churning out with nine months until the Iowa caucuses.

“I want a candidate who can talk really intelligently about policy,” said second-year University of Iowa law student Cormac Broeg, who said he hasn’t decided who he will caucus for, but said he is leaning toward Warren.

Her policy plan announced on Friday would require the Department of Defense to establish a health registry for service and family members to track medical conditions acquired from unsafe housing.

Monday, Warren unveiled a detailed plan that would cancel up to $50,000 worth of student debt for people with household incomes less than $250,000. Also included in the plan was universal free college for two-year and four-year colleges and trade schools.

Humaa Siddiqi, a second-year UI law student, said she’s trying to decide between caucusing for Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Warren. She said she was glad to hear the details of Warren’s policy plan to address student debt.

“I can appreciate the fact that it’s not a full blown — ‘you’re not going to have any loans’… I think that for anyone who has struggled with paying loans can say that’s not totally fair,” Siddiqi said.

She added that her decision between Warren and Sanders would likely come down to differences in personality, saying she liked both senators’ policy approaches.

Those are two of several policy proposals the campaign has released in the last few months. In her Tipton visit, Warren also talked about policy plans to offer universal pre-K and childcare, “break up Big Tech”, and prevent lobbyists from returning to work in the government and vice versa. She also talked about how she plans to pay for her proposals — with a two-cent wealth tax that would levy a 2 percent tax on fortunes above $50 million.

Fellow second-year law student Doug Anderson worked on the Martin O’Malley Iowa campaign ahead of the 2016 caucuses (he dropped his nomination bid soon after the Iowa caucuses that year). He said that one knock against O’Malley was his tendency to get into the weeds in policy.

Broegg added that he believed Warren was different because she could connect her policy rollouts to her experiences.

“She’s got that story about being a mother — she went to college, she went to law school, and she can talk about how she used to be a public education teacher, she can connect those big policy agenda to personal experiences stops her from getting bogged down,” he said.

Warren weaves into her stump speech her story about how she dropped out of college when she was 19 to get married, and she found a commuter college for $50 a semester to train to become a special needs teacher. That was before going to law school, becoming a professor, and running for the U.S. Senate.

“My opinion is she doesn’t propose those (policy proposals) without a lot of thought, a lot of education on what she’s thinking and where she’s coming, which I appreciate,” Nancy Porter, an Iowa City resident said. She said while she hasn’t decided who she will caucus for yet, beating the Trump administration in 2020 is one of her top priorities in addition to education.

On Friday Warren touted her policy proposals before about 175 people both inside and outside the Tipton Family Restaurant (those outside in the overflow could hear through a speaker system).

Warren, in addition to her campaign staffers, have centered the campaign around having the most comprehensive policy of any of the candidates.

At the Tipton event, one campaign staffer in charge of manning the door wore a shirt (for sale on her website) that read “Warren has a plan for that,” and another campaign staffer frequently tweets popular memes referencing the number of Warren’s policy releases.

Other candidates have also released policy proposals. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.’s proposed to give teachers a raise in an Iowa City stop this month. Sanders has proposed free tuition, and has championed bills in the Senate to provide Medicare for All.

Jodi Clemens, former candidate for Iowa House of Representatives, said she liked Warren’s financial fastidiousness, but said she would be campaigning for Sanders.

“I got into the financial industry because of Elizabeth Warren, but Bernie brought me into politics,” Clemens said.

Her visit to Tipton, a town of about 3,200 people and the county seat of Cedar County, was a stop in the middle of her tour of eastern Iowa. She also visited Clinton and Davenport.

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