Buttigieg, Loebsack rally for last-minute support in Cedar Rapids

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, campaigned in Cedar Rapids with presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg to drum up support from undecided caucusgoers two weeks out from the Iowa caucuses.


Tate Hildyard

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg hosts a town hall at Cedar Rapids Veterans Memorial Building Armory on Jan 21. Buttigeg is a democratic hopeful for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination.

Caleb McCullough, Politics Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS — Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, joined former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg to implore undecided caucusgoers for support in a late push just two weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

Loebsack endorsed Buttigieg for the Democratic presidential-nomination on Jan. 12, and he has been campaigning with Buttigieg around eastern Iowa this week.

Buttigieg largely stuck to his familiar remarks to the room of 1,200 attendees, but he began his speech by making an appeal to the undecided caucusgoers in attendance. Buttigieg said Iowans have an important influence in deciding the party’s nominee, and he has seen how seriously Iowans take that decision.

“I think a lot of voters are being told that you gotta choose between your head and your heart, you gotta choose between unity and boldness,” Buttigieg said at the Cedar Rapids Veterans Memorial Commission on Tuesday. “I’m here to say that we can’t get any of those things done unless we get all of those things done.”

Loebsack recounted how he came to support Buttigieg to the crowd, and he asked people who have yet to decide to support Buttigieg in the caucuses. Loebsack said Buttigieg struck him as someone who could cross the aisle and win over independents and Republicans in the general election.

“He knows what our problems are,” Loebsack said. “He knows we have a problem of gun violence. He knows that we have health-care issues. He knows that this country is as divided as I think it’s ever been, quite honestly.”

Buttigieg took third place in the January Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll, with 16 percent of likely caucusgoers saying he was their first choice for president.

The race is still fluid, with 13 percent of respondents in the poll saying they had no first-choice candidate, and 45 percent saying they could still be persuaded to support someone else.

The poll of 701 likely caucusgoers, conducted by Des Moines-based pollster Selzer and Co., was conducted Jan. 2-8 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.7 percentage points.

Kathy Fear, 47, an undecided caucusgoer from Swisher, said Loebsack’s endorsement held some weight for her as she considered her caucus decision. Fear is a Nurse Anesthetist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and she said Loebsack has been a strong supporter of health-care workers.

“I respect Dave Loebsack’s opinion, he’s been a good lawmaker for many years as a legislator,” she said. “So yeah, that lends some credence to Buttigieg.”

Fear said she’s looking for a candidate that shares her moral values, such as honesty and integrity, as well as her political views.

Matthew Wilding, 57, is another undecided caucusgoer from Cedar Rapids. Wilding said he’s trying to see more candidates before he makes his decision. In addition to Buttigieg, he said he has seen Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and plans to see former Vice President Joe Biden before the caucuses.

Wilding said he’s not looking for anything particular in a candidate, but that each candidate has different strengths, and he wants to listen to what they have to say. He said he’s leaning toward Klobuchar or Buttigieg.

“What I liked was that he was sort of abstract, but also the fact that he’s a mayor makes me think that he actually has executive experience and could actually run something, even though he’s only run a small city,” Wilding said.

Buttigieg is slated to campaign in Dubuque on Wednesday and on Saturday he plans to visit Fort Dodge, Storm Lake, and Carroll.