DES MOINES – New York Sen. Charles Schumer got the 2016 presidential campaign off to an early start in Iowa Saturday by telling a crowd of Democratic activist he will support fellow New Yorker Hillary Clinton for president if she decides to seek her party’s nomination.
Schumer made the surprise endorsement during the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraiser that drew about 800 activists from around the state.
“It’s time for a woman to be president,” Schumer said at the close of a 40-minute keynote address.
“I am urging Hillary Clinton to run for president and when she does she will have my full and unwavering support. Run, Hillary, run. If you run, you’ll win and we’ll all win.”
The New York Democrat made the impassioned plea after hammering Tea Party Republicans for orchestrating a federal government shutdown that drove this country to the “brink of default,” endangered the economy and sent a message to Democrats that need a better job of communicating a positive, constructive path to improve the lot of middle-class and working Americans.
Schumer said that positive agenda has to include constructive solutions to marry increased teacher pay with stronger school standards, immigration reform, investments in infrastructure and a fairer tax code that will bolster incomes for working Americans struggling to achieve the American dream.
While Schumer sounded a 2016 theme at the close of his remarks, the focus of Saturday night’s event was 2014, when Iowa Democrats hope to hold onto retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat by electing Rep. Bruce Braley, retain Braley’s 1st District congressional post in the Democratic column, return a Democrat to Iowa’s governorship, and elect legislative majorities.
During the evening’s speeches, Des Moines Sen. Jack Hatch and Cedar Rapids Rep. Tyler Olson took turns criticizing Branstad, a five-term GOP incumbent they are vying to challenge him in 2014.
“Twenty years of any governor is enough,” said Olson, whose campaign supporters handed out green “sack Branstad” tote bags to dinner attendees. Hatch said Branstad has become “the governor of no” who has stood in the path of progressive change and is holding the state back.
“We can do better, far better,” he said.
Scott Brennan, who indicated he plans to serve as the state party’s chairman through 2014, said Saturday night was a chance for Democrats to celebrate their successes in 2012 and then “once the night’s over, get back to work because we’ve got a lot to do to be successful in 2014.”
The Democratic leader said Iowa Democrats are unified in contrast to Republicans who are fighting among themselves for control and direction of their state party.
“We’re going to have some contentious primaries because that what primaries are, but at the end of the day, we’re going to come together because we always do,” Brennan said. “We are a very unified party.”
About the only sign of discontent came from Bob Krause, a candidate for the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, who issued an email press release saying the party should remove former President Andrew Jackson’s name from the party’s annual fundraiser.
“The ideals of Andrew Jackson no longer match the ideals of the Iowa Democratic Party,” Krause said. “The Indian Removal Act, signed in 1830, was the most significant case of ethnic cleansing in the history of the United States. It led directly to the “Trail of Tears” in which as many as 6000 peaceful Indians died.
“Jackson advocated for the Indian Removal Act, signed it, and saw it administered. His act of ethnic cleansing was not accidental, and reversed the compassionate policies of Washington and Jefferson that had been in effect for many years,” Krause added in calling for the party to remove Jackson’s name for its premiere fundraising dinner.
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