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Storm Lake, Iowa, draws 2020 democratic candidates to rural America: NPR



Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen moderates a forum on Saturday in Iowa with democratic presidential candidates.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio


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Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen moderates a forum on Saturday in Iowa with democratic presidential candidates.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

At first glance, Storm Lake, Iowa, does not seem like the kind of place that would attract democratic presidential candidates.

The city of 10,600 sits in the highly conservative northwest corner of the state. In 2016, Donald Trump collected 4,903 votes in the surrounding Buena Vista County, compared to Hillary Clinton's 2,856 votes.

But on Saturday, at least four of the major Democratic candidates in Storm Lake gather for a Candidate Forum. While the event is being billed as a way for Democrats to reconnect with rural voters after the trouncing they suffered in 2016, part of the appeal is also to share a stage with Art Cullen, the city's Pulitzer award-winning newspaper editor. Two HuffPost journalists will also moderate the forum.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., And Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., As well as former housing and urban development secretary Julian Castro and former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., Will be there. Also participating is Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, considering a presidential bid. Warren and Castro have already made campaign stops in Storm Lake.

"It tells me who really cares about rural Iowa, frankly, Cullen says." And if you're not there, you're square. "

So far, Cullen says he has never received attention during a presidential campaign, but in 2017, Cullen won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorial challenges for the company's agribusiness, a potential message that the right democrat could use to woo some disaffected Trump voters. 19659008] "What I'm talking about is realistic, sustainable methods that can be encouraged by Congress to make farmers and the environment whole and we know how we do it," says Cullen. "It's just that the chemical companies have bought the process. They have bought the legal process, and they have bought the political process."

Storm Lake is a perfect microcosm of rural America's challenges, said former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who served as President Barack Obama's agricultural secretary.

It has a growing immigrant population (many jobs on Tyson's meat parcel). It is home to Buena Vista University, a small private college that tries to attract and retain students while keeping costs affordable. The area farmers have had difficult times due to random commodity prices and tariffs due to the Trump administration's trade policy.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to a group of Iowans at Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville in February during her first trip to Ange as the official presidential candidate.

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Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to a group of Iowans at Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville in February during her first trip to the state as an official presidential candidate.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

"If you can't point out how the government works and how the government can work well for the countryside, the argument about smaller government, less taxes, less regulation is basically a winning argument," says Vilsack.

Candidates are trying to set their pitch in rural America.

This week, Warren proposed to designate regulators to review and reverse some mergers of farms and see if some of these companies were broken up for antitrust reasons.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who will not attend the Storm Lake event, has just published an up-ed in The Des Moines Register that says he will fight for peasants against powerful agribusiness if he is elected

Klobuchar's first campaign trip in Iowa went through small towns like Knoxville, where she renewed is energy and programs to combat climate change.

"There are real gains for rural America if you do this right," says Klobuchar. "I just don't see this separate environment from financial gain."

Former Texas Rep. Beto O & # 39; Rourke runs between campaign stops in Mount Vernon, Iowa and Cedar Rapids earlier this month.

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Former Texas Rep. Beto O & # 39; Rourke runs between campaign stops in Mount Vernon, Iowa and Cedar Rapids earlier this month.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

In an interview with Iowa Public Radio, formerly Texas Rep. Beto O & # 39; Rourke, who will not attend Saturday's forum, says rural America is not just about the food and fiber it grows.

"But in addition, it is the military service that distinguishes this country and is disproportionate in rural communities," says Rourke.

"Beto? Where is he on? Is he out in Taos or is he dancing with Oprah? "Cullen wondered loudly." Joe Biden? He's trying to think. Well, why doesn't he come up with a lot of Farmers Union members in Storm Lake? They will help him get along really well. "[19659008] Cullen says candidates appearing in rural Iowa historically have done much better in the caucuses, which means Cullen can host more presidential breaks between now and February 2020.


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