On Tuesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Gill and Leahy talked to good friend, attorney Jim Larew direct from Iowa with the inside scoop on the twenty twenty presidential candidate playing field and what he thinks will determine the road to the White House.
Towards the end of the segment, the men touched upon whether or not the recent allegations against Joe Biden would hinder his run.
Leahy: We are joined by my very good friend Jim Larew direct from Iowa. Jim and I many years ago when I was a Democrat, hadn’t seen the light yet. Jim and I were summer roommates in Washington, D.C. Welcome to The Tennessee Star Report Jim!
Larew: Well thanks so much and good morning to you.
Leahy: So tell us what’s going on. You have been tracking everything happening with the presidential candidates out in Iowa. What is the latest?
Larew: Well I have not made a choice myself yet, sort of observing and I think that’s what a lot of Iowans, it’s almost a moveable feast, large crowds, enthusiastic crowds. And in some cases the same faces traveling some distance to begin to hear the different candidates and by all sounds we may have twenty of them before the filed is initially settled. And Iowa is the place to be if one is interested in hearing from and knowing about these candidates. So it’s an interesting time to be in Iowa.
Gill: This is Steve Gill. Iowa and New Hampshire are remarkably unique in that most Americans will choose the person they vote for in a presidential primary or in the presidential contest either by attending a large rally which few people do or watching television. They don’t meet these candidates personally.
In New Hampshire, the joke is, “Ah, you know I’m not really sure about this guy. He’s only stayed at the house twice. I’ve only had breakfast with him three times.” (Leahy chuckles) You actually have personal contact with these folks and kind of get to judge them up close and personal. Do Iowans take that for granted or do they realize how special that is?
Larew: I think the activists at least in both parties take the role in a very earnest, Iowa kind of way. They want to get it right. They study the issues hard. They tried to ask good questions and listen to what is being said. Iowa is a particularly volatile proving ground for these candidates. It’s an opportunity for them to present, rehearse in front of small groups sometimes. Sometimes large.
Their lines and see how audiences react. Iowa in two thousand twelve was won by Obama by twelve points. But Trump in two thousand sixteen won the state by sixteen points. So there’s huge volatility in Iowa. Arguably, many of those votes are in the middle and these people may or may not be attending these rallies as a partisan Democrats. But you’ve got to get the message right in Iowa, I would say in order to have a good shot at the presidency.
Leahy: Jim, who’s doing well among the Democratic contenders so far with the Democratic base out there in Iowa? And who’s doing poorly?
Larew: Well, it’s interesting to see. I’m not sure I have a good handle of that. Each of them are hitting a chord with some voters in with such a wide field there are different strands of threads within the chord. Elizabeth Warren at an event this weekend which was in Western Iowa, a very popular area, struck a chord that was very popular among farmers who there talking about breaking up some of the monopolies that controlled both the input side and the output side of their own lives.
Large corporations have really swallowed up the smaller ones in the last twenty years and it effects the income of these farmers. Amy Klobuchar who was Senator from Minnesota just north of us, in fact she says she can see Iowa from her front porch.
Leahy: (Leahy chuckles) That’s a good line. That’s a good line, Jim.
Larew: It is. And she does well with that group. She comes across as being you know, the young woman next door. And it’s a friendlier chord that she has. Jon Delaney, I would say did decently. He’s a former congressman of Maryland…
Leahy: Whoa whoa whoa whoa. Who is this guy? I’ve never heard of this guy.
Larew: Well not many Iowan’s have and he’s spent an awful lot of time out here and hasn’t got a lot of traction yet. He’s from a blue-collar background but apparently made a lot of money in the financial services area and he talks about investment. And I think he’s trying to hold himself out as a candidate…
Leahy: Never heard of John Delaney. Is anybody supporting him out there in Iowa Jim?
Larew: Well, the polls say less than one percent. He claims to of hit all of Iowa’s counties nine-nine times. He’s working hard but hasn’t had the rubber hit the road you might say.
Gill: None of them are that doesn’t sound like the right kind of traction. Jim, you mentioned that some of these candidates are drawing good crowds, big crowds and yet the dynamic of what a big crowd is has changed dramatically over the last several. It used to be the years I worked in politics, man, if you could draw a hundred people, a few thousand those were knocking it out of the park events.
And then Donald Trump came along and started holding twenty thousand, thirty thousand people rallies all over the place. Is anybody going to get that kind of that traction or has Donald Trump kind of raised the bar beyond reasonable expectations?
Larew: He’s done something uniquely rather others who follow have to imitate that model is a good question. In presidential politics, it seems more likely the case in each new election we elect the opposite of the prior office holder. And so I don’t know that any Democrat would have to have rallies of that size in order to say they’ve matched Trump’s performance.
And so I don’t know that anyone’s talking that way. And at this point of the campaign, even when these candidates are coming into town and having significant rallies. I mean hundreds of people, they’re also carving out time to meet privately in living rooms among activists just so they can have an actual conversation.
Leahy: Hmm hmm. Hmm hmm.
Larew: In terms of that. I’m not sure that Trump has ever spent a moment in anyone’s living room. I don’t know but I don’t think so.
Gill: Only via television on the apprentice where people feel like they know him because he was in their living room.
Leahy: Jim, you’re well known in Iowa Democratic circles and have a very good sense of what’s going in the Democratic caucus challenges there among the twenty-twenty contenders. Our audience is largely you know, conservatives here in Tennessee. What can you, what would you like to tell us here, our audience about what’s going on in Iowa right now among the Democratic contenders?
Larew: I think the sweet spot of Iowa politics now may not be that different than in Tennessee. The road to the White House is through the areas of lower an lower middle-class people live and work in their lives. And I do think they feel disenfranchised from a lot of what government does and says that somehow it’s disconnected from how they live their lives and what’s meaningful or what would be helpful to them. And to the extent that candidates from either party can address that and hit that sweet spot.
I think that’s where the next election will go. The event I was at in Western Iowa, the premise was a little narrower, I’m not sure I agreed with even the premise which was an excellent event and that was the road to the White House was through rural America. I would say it’s a little broader than that. There are an awful lot of people in rural America who are the lower middle class and feel they have lives that are not quality of life is not getting better it’s getting worse. But I also think that’s true in a lot of large urban areas, carved out and abandoned.
And to the extent that a candidate can address that issue, I think there will be listeners in Iowa and Tennesse to it and responses to it. I do think that Trump hit that message pretty well particularly compared to Hillary talking about the forgotten men and women. The question will be in the twenty-twenty election will be whether his policies have an effect and address those people in meaningful ways and or economic ways or not.
And if they feel that he fails them, I think it’s a volatile vote that can easily come back to the Democrats in much the same way that the attrition went from the Obama in two thousand twelve to a Trump vote in two thousand sixteen. So I think that’s the sweet spot. There are a lot of people moving around and looking for something better and I would guess as many people in Tennessee would feel that way as they do in Iowa.
Gill: Jim, if the route to the White House is going to run through rural and presumably suburban America, are the AOC driven far left extreme policies that the Democrats seem to be talking about whether it’s abortion in the third trimester and after birth. Whether it’s this new green policy that’s going to abolish cars and airplanes and do something about cows. Are those issues going to play with that rural American base?
Larew: Well, climate change is here. And insurance companies have figured it out. Large corporations when they’re choosing where to locate their physical plants have figured it out. The question is whether the politicians will. As we speak Western Iowa is flooded people, with their, let’s call it conservative Iowans with their small businesses and their farms are wiped out by it. And it was only two years ago that such flooding happened…
Leahy: And you attribute that to climate change Jim?
Larew: Well I don’t have a better explanation. What you have is what you call micro-bursts. We’re getting torrents of water coming down in small periods of time. Unlike anything we’ve ever seen in recorded meteorology.
Leahy: Ok. Last question for your Jim. Joe Biden. Does he survive these alleged…
Gill: Sniff your hair gate. (Leahy chuckles)
Leahy: Yeah. Does he survive that? We got thirty seconds.
Larew: Well Joe Biden has been around a long time. I think it’s not going to turn on the present. It’s going to be whether a person with his long term experience and institutional knowledge is something that people are looking for. Or whether they’re going to say, “No that’s too much of the past we want something completely different.” (Inaudible talk)
Leahy: Jim Larew my good friend from Iowa and expert on Democrat politics here. Jim, will you come back and talk to us again?
Larew: I’d be glad to do it and hello to everyone in Tennessee!
Listen to the full segment on iHeartRadio:
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