Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, told Scott County Democrats on Saturday that Republicans are seeking to divide Americans and betraying the country’s basic values.
Garcetti, who was spending two days in Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state, spoke to several hundred activists at the party’s Red, White and Blue fundraising dinner at the Radisson Quad-City Plaza hotel.
The two-term mayor is one of several potential candidates mulling a presidential bid, and he not only was critical of President Donald Trump, but he also took Republicans in the state legislature to task for taking steps he said hurt labor unions, weakened health care and targeted immigrants.
“That’s not Iowa values and that’s not American values,” he said.
Garcetti urged Democrats to work to get out the vote in the 2018 midterms.
Republicans noticed Garcetti's arrival in the state, with Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann tweeting Friday that “maybe while you’re here, you should take notes from our great Republicans leaders and learn something about our reforms.”
Before coming to Davenport, Garcetti made stops in Des Moines and Waterloo. He had breakfast with firefighters, met with the mayors of Des Moines and Waterloo and attended a reception for the Asian and Latino Coalition in Des Moines, among other stops.
The mayor has said that he’s thinking about running for president in 2020, but he pushed back against the notion that it’s all but certain.
“It’s something I’m looking at, but I’m happy to get behind somebody as well,” he said in an interview with the Quad-City Times on Saturday.
Garcetti also weighed in on the missile strike against Syria, saying it was warranted because of the chemical weapons attack on civilians. However, he said anything further shouldn’t be done without congressional permission. “I think that is what the law demands,” he said.
The field running for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination is likely to be crowded, with some of the candidates better known nationally than Garcetti.
It also would be unusual for a mayor to go directly to the White House. In recent years, the path has been through Congress or as a governor.
Still, Garcetti heads a city with a population that’s larger than almost two dozen states, including Iowa. And he pointed to an increase in the minimum wage there, as well as investments in infrastructure, as accomplishments.
“Mayors around the country are less interested in partisanship than progress, and I think that’s what people want in a president, too,” he said.
Troy Price, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said Saturday he expects Iowans to give each of the suitors for the nomination a "fair shake," even if, at the moment, they are more focused on the 2018 election than 2020.
Still, he had praise for Garcetti.
“I think Mayor Garcetti has an interesting story to tell, and I think he’s already seen some people responding to it,” Price said.