Iowa

Back in 2016, as she campaigned for Hillary Clinton, Laura Hubka could feel her county converting.

"People were chasing me out the door, slamming the door in my face, calling Hillary names," Hubka recalled.

Hubka is the chair of the Democratic Party in Howard County, Iowa. It's a tiny county of just about 9,000 people on the Minnesota border, and it's mostly white, rural and, locals say, religious.

A wide open competitive presidential primary should be a moment of opportunity and peak political leverage for ambitious and aspiring politicians in places like Iowa. But one of the most sought-after Democrats in the first-in-the-nation caucus state isn't interested in endorsing a presidential candidate.

As the youngest of a handful of Democrats in statewide office in Iowa, state Auditor Rob Sand, who was elected in 2018, is often mentioned as a potential future U.S. Senate or gubernatorial candidate.

Cory Booker is a politician who sounds like a preacher.

"We may be down in a valley right now," he said during an Iowa campaign stop this week, "but I promise you, if you stand with me, if you caucus with me, if we stand for that spirit, I promise you, we will get to the mountaintop and we'll do it, because together as Americans, we know we will rise."

Democrats all want one thing: to beat Donald Trump.

The problem is, they can't agree on who's best to do that. With a month to go until the Iowa caucuses, there's a clear top tier of four candidates: former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind.

Julián Castro went to Des Moines this week and told Iowans they shouldn't vote first.

"I'm gonna tell the truth. It's time for the Democratic Party to change how we do our presidential nominating process," Castro said at a town hall dedicated to his belief that the party should shake up who has the first say of who should be president. Iowa holds its caucuses in less than two months.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden squared off with a voter in Iowa on Thursday, calling the man a "damn liar" after he accused Biden of helping to get his son on the board of a Ukrainian gas company in an attempt to win access with Ukraine's president.

In the testy exchange at a town hall packed with Biden supporters, the former vice president took umbrage with another accusation from the voter: that Biden is too old to run for president.

CHRISTINA STELLA / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

Between late planting, floods, and trade turmoil, many families in agriculture are operating under an extra layer of stress this year. But, addressing mental health in rural communities is more complicated than increasing resources.

The ideological divisions between the leading Democratic candidates for president were on clear display at the rowdy Iowa Liberty and Justice Celebration on Friday evening.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took aim at her more moderate rivals during her remarks, slamming them for "vague ideas that are designed not to offend anyone."

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are campaigning on "big structural change" and "political revolution." Former Vice President Joe Biden thinks voters will weigh the "soul of America" as they decide whom to support.

Sen. Kamala Harris is making a different bet.

The California senator's campaign is increasingly focused on economic challenges that, as she framed it at the Iowa State Fair this weekend, wake voters up in the middle of the night.

Keep ya head up, Jerry Foxhoven.

The public servant who led Iowa's Department of Human Services was forced to resign in June, just one business day after he sent an email to more than 4,000 agency employees that included an inspirational quote from the rapper Tupac Shakur.

He used his love of rap from time to time to "reach out to our staff, tell them that I'm human, have a little levity," he tells NPR.

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