Over the next year, Iowa Democrats face the daunting task of starting to winnow what most expect will be a gargantuan field of candidates running for president.
Kim Reynolds, the state’s Republican governor, said she welcomes all of those candidates. And she said she’s glad to be watching this one from the sidelines.
There was a definite and relaxed, "been there, done that" vibe to Reynolds’ response to a recent question about the 2020 Iowa caucuses and what promises to be an endless parade of Democrats coming to the state between now and next February.
More than 20 Republicans sought the party’s presidential nomination in the 2016 caucuses. The number of Democrats who run in 2020 is expected to reach, if not surpass, that.
"I hope they have to have debates that cover two nights. I think they will. We lived through all of that, so it’s going to be kind of interesting to see this take place on the flip side," Reynolds said with a laugh. "We had the onslaught in ’16, so it will be interesting to see."
Ever the state’s cheerleader and good soldier, Reynolds also gave the traditional defense of Iowa as the lead-off state in the presidential nominating process. She said Iowa caucus-goers are knowledgeable on the issues and engaged in the process, and she said candidates without much money can still come here and test their message.
"We are blessed to be the first-in-the-nation caucus and I’m proud of that," Reynolds said. "And I’ll take every opportunity that I can to make sure that we secure that and maintain it ..."
While there is certain to be a crowded field of Democrats running for president, it’s also possible there could be a Republican or two running, if someone decides to mount a primary challenge to President Donald Trump.
Reynolds said she could not predict whether any Republican will run against the president, but said even if someone does, she will support Trump.
"I’m going to support the president," Reynolds said, heaping praise on the administration’s accessibility, particularly on federal issues like ethanol and water regulations. "He’s the president, and that’s who I’m going to support."
Reynolds said she is looking forward to the caucuses and the extensive campaigns that will precede them.
"Don’t you love politics? I mean, I love it," Reynolds said. "That’s what’s great, right? It’s America."
And Reynolds said she does hope for one thing to come out of all those Democrats coming here over the next year.
"I hope they spend a lot of money while they’re in Iowa," she said.
Warren goes West
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate -- her campaign is in the exploratory phase -- was notable in part for its geography.
Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts who is considered one of the potential field’s more progressive candidates, spent most of her trip in conservative-leaning western Iowa before working her way back to Des Moines.
Warren this past weekend made appearances in Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Storm Lake, all in Iowa’s deep-red 4th congressional district, before finishing up in Des Moines and one of its suburbs, Ankeny.
I asked Warren why she chose to start, and spend much of, her first visit to Iowa in Republican country.
"You gotta start somewhere and this is a great part of the state. And it gave me a real opportunity not only to be in cities but also in small towns in rural areas," Warren said. "I think we’ve got to reach out and talk to everybody."
There has been much discussion after the 2016 and 2018 elections about Democrats’ mounting losses in rural Iowa. Perhaps Warren’s nascent campaign has tuned into that discussion.