Former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin and almost 200 other Democratic leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire are calling on Hillary Clinton to adopt “big, bold, economic populist ideas” as she heads into a presidential campaign.
The effort, led by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is addressed to all Democrats running for president, but the activists make it clear that Clinton, the presumed frontrunner for the nomination who has sometimes faced criticism from the left, is their main target. “The best way for Democrats to win the 2016 presidential election is by campaigning on bold Elizabeth Warren-style ideas,” said PCCC co-founder Adam Green. Other liberal groups want the Massachusetts Sen. to run for president, even though Warren has made it clear she’s not interested.
“We urge all candidates for president to campaign on big, bold ideas – such as establishing a national goal of debt free college at all public colleges and universities, expanding Social Security benefits instead of cutting them, creating millions of clean energy jobs, reducing big money influence in politics, breaking up the ‘too big to fail’ Wall Street banks that crashed our economy, and ensuring that working families share in the economic growth they help create,” reads a joint statement from the coalition, which has dubbed itself “Ready for Boldness.”
Harkin served 30 years in the Senate before retiring last year, but he remains Iowa’s highest profile Democrat. Harkin has had warm words for Clinton in the past, but has also urged progressives to keep the pressure on her. “As someone who has carried the liberal, progressive populist banner for many years, we’re always nervous about people moving too far to the right,” he said on ABC’s “This Week” when Clinton came to an event outside Des Moines he hosted in September.
Joining Harkin are a number of other Democratic and progressive officials in the first two presidential nominating states. That includes Rep. Dave Loebsack, the only Democrat left in Iowa’s congressional delegation, along with two former members of Congress, a slew of state lawmakers, country party chairs, union leaders, and others. Some of the higher profile names from New Hampshire include former Reps. Carol Shea Porter and Paul Hodes.
All together, it’s more than 190 signatories from both states, including 66 state legislators and 23 county party chairs.
“Economic populism is alive and well in Iowa and across the heartland. The issues in this joint statement are so important to America, and bold populist ideas should be the center of our Democratic agenda in 2016,” said former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Roxanne Barton Conlin.
Clinton held her last scheduled event Monday night, with a presidential announcement expected sometime in April. A flight of potential challengers have lined up, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley who recently visited Iowa, but no one has formally declared their candidacy yet.