The event: A meet and greet with Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris
The location: Mark and Lynn Cory’s home north of Indianola
How many attended? Lynn Cory said they were told to expect 50 to 75 people for the Fourth of July event, but a crowd of more than 300 turned out
The setting: A lovely rural Iowa home with a pond, a long gravel driveway and a spacious backyard. The crowd huddled under the shade of two trees and a couple of pop-up tents, while sipping water from paper cups.
Prior history with Indianola: Harris previously spoke at a get-out-the-vote gathering at Brick House on Oct. 22
What the candidate had to say: Harris began with a salute to the Fourth of July holiday. “This is a day for good reason, we should celebrate every day,” she said. “We are a nation that was founded on noble ideals. The ideals that were present in the Declaration of Independent and those words we spoke in 1776. That we are all and should be treated as equals.”
Harris credited the founders with having the foresight to protect the nation. “The founders, in their brilliance, imagined a moment like this. They imagined a moment where we would have to test the design of our democracy.”
She compared President Donald Trump’s presidency to a house being buffeted by a natural disaster. “The shingles are falling off a little,” she said, “but the house is still standing.” She then cited a list of what she called his policy failures, before going on to cite her own policy prescriptions.
Among her proposals:
• “Specifically, what I am proposing, for families that make less than $100,000 a year, they get a tax credit that they can collect up to $500 a month, which will be all the difference between families getting through the end of the month with dignity or not.”
• “I am proposing the first federal investment in closing the teacher pay gap,” she said. “Here in Iowa that gap is an average of $12,200 a year. Let’s be clear about what that is — that’s a year’s worth of mortgage payments, that’s a year’s worth of grocery bills, that’s putting a significant dent in student loan debt.”
• “We need to pass reasonable gun safety laws, including universal background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban.” If elected, she said, she would “give Congress 100 days to pull their act together and put a bill on my desk for signature, and if they fail to do it — I am prepared to take executive action and put in place the most comprehensive background check requirement in our country and require that the ATF take the licenses of gun dealers who violate the law. And I am prepared to put a ban on the importation of assault weapons from foreign countries into this country.”
• “Any state with a history of passing legislation that restricts a woman’s access to reproductive health, that law will have to be cleared by our Department of Justice to determine whether it complies with Roe vs. Wade.”
In response to questions from the audience, Harris said she would return the United States to full support of NATO, again sign on to the Paris climate accord and supports the Green New Deal. She called climate change “an existential threat to the future of our species.”
In closing, Harris told the crowd to remember that “this is a fight that is born out of optimism, this is a fight that is for the soul of our country, and this is a fight that is born out of love of our country, and this is a fight that we will win.”
What did the crowd have to say: Many of those at the event said they have not yet chosen a candidate, but found Harris an exciting option.
“There are a lot of good options out there,” said Joe Weinman of Indianola. “You can’t do it, but I’d like to take the best of the top five or so.”
Weinman said he had been impressed also by Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, but added that he’s also liked Vice President Joe Biden since he saw him speak at Pickard Park in 1988. “I was struck by him at the time.”
Beth Voltmer of New Virginia said she too was considering Buttigieg, but liked what she heard from Harris. “She is so inspiring and forward thinking,” she said. “And just very delightful. I feel so hopeful with her.”
Biden is still on her list, she added, but “I’m really looking for someone new and fresh.”
It’s early in the process, the two agreed. Weinman said he considered sitting out candidate visits until the number had been reduced from more than 20, but then realized — “I need to have some input on that.”
Competition for the candidate: While most of those at the event wanted to get their picture with Harris, a few had another goal — they wanted to get inside the house to meet the youngest person at the event — Cory’s 3-day-old granddaughter.