U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi helped rally Iowa Democrats Sunday in Des Moines ahead of the coming primary elections and lamented the “extreme” legislation approved by Republicans during the just-ended legislative session.
“People always ask me, ‘Is it a tsunami or is it a wave?'” Pelosi said, referencing predictions that 2018 could usher in a host of Democrats to public office. “Whatever that is, it’s a lot of small droplets of water. … Every call you make, every step you make, every postcard that is sent, every dollar that is raised, enough small donors … It’s going to make a difference in those races.”
She urged those in attendance to capitalize on the party’s grassroots energy and to better communicate Democrats’ message to those who did not respond to those efforts in 2016.
“If they don’t think we communicated with them, we didn’t communicate with them,” she said. “So we have to communicate in a stronger way about our better deal, and in the days and months ahead, reach into every corner of America — every county, every district.”
The California Democrat is a polarizing figure, even among many Democrats.
According to the Washington Post, 10 Democratic candidates have said they would oppose returning her to the speakership if Democrats retake the U.S. House in November.
But Pelosi last week told the Boston Globe she would not step down as the Democratic leader. “It’s important that it not be five white guys at the table — no offense,” Pelosi told the Globe, referring to the top two leadership spots in the House and Senate and the presidency. “I have no intention of walking away from that table.”
Iowa Republicans attempted to weaponize Pelosi’s visit against Democrats, sending out a flurry of messages tying a number of congressional candidates to the “elite liberal” 30-year veteran of Congress.
“With no positive vision, Democrats have nowhere else to look to and now they’re rolling out the welcome mat for Nancy Pelosi, who most embodies the failures of Democrats over the last several elections and is no stranger to being listed as the most unpopular member of Congress,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement.
But Pelosi drew a warm welcome and a standing ovation from the more than 300 people in attendance Sunday.
“We brought her here because she’s part of that national conversation,” said Sean Bagniewski, chairman of the Polk County Democrats. “She is the most powerful Democrat in the United States of America. She’s one of the most powerful women in world history. I think the better question would be, ‘Why wouldn’t we have her here?'”
Bagniewski said the event raised about $40,000 for the county party, but it also helped energize Democrats ahead of the June 5 primary elections.
“We need to be energized for the primaries next month,” Bagniewski said. “… As soon as we make that determination — whether it’s at the ballot box or at the state convention, who our nominee is — we all need to close ranks and start working toward a victory in November as quickly as possible.”
State Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, spoke to the crowd a day after the Iowa Legislature adjourned what she termed “a session from hell,” in which Republicans advanced the strictest abortion ban in the nation and a tax cut Democrats said would lead to cuts in programs and services.
“The good news? Because of their callous actions and values, they have awakened a new spirit of citizenship and engagement that I have seen nothing like since the 1960s,” Jochum said. “Polk County Democrats: We need your energy; we need your enthusiasm. We need it to build that blue wave.”