By Zachary Toillion
In Iowa, the first location of the presidential caucuses/elections, there exists an annual Democratic Party tradition known as the Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola. It’s hosted by Iowa’s retiring Senator Tom Harkin. Since 1972, Democrats have gathered at the events to eat food, hear speeches from candidates and talk politics. Often the event is used as an occasion to promote candidates from Iowa, but over the years it has become a national event, drawing the likes of Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, President Obama, senators, and presidential candidates.
September 14 marked the end of the Harkin Steak Fry, but perhaps the beginning of something else. The keynote speakers of the event were none other than President Bill Clinton and former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. Returning to the state for the first time since 2007, Hillary, looking out at a crowd of nearly 10,000 people, declared, “Hello Iowa, I’m back!” The crowd erupted in rapturous applause as hundreds of supporters held up “Ready for Hillary” signs, a super PAC formed to promote a Clinton candidacy.
Throughout her speech, Hillary dropped hints about a possible presidential run. Midway through she said, “I’ve got a few things on my mind these days. First and most importantly, Bill and I are on constant grandchild watch. I’m calling Chelsea every five minutes to make sure things are going alright… There’s that other thing. It is true. I am thinking about it,” naturally alluding to a 2016 presidential run.
Hillary remarked that she attended the steak fry to support Iowa candidates and make sure Democrats vote in the midterm elections at the levels seen in presidential contests. On this particular topic, Clinton remarked that “Too many people only get excited about presidential campaigns. Look, I get excited about presidential campaigns too. But those campaigns only happen every four years. And every two years, you’re electing members of Congress and senators and state officials who will have a big say in the quality of your schools, your health care, your lives.”
Hillary’s speech was arguably the most overtly partisan one since returning to private life. It targeted Republicans that oppose a federal minimum wage, advocated for a bill that promotes “equal pay for equal work” among genders, expressed a desire for more female elected officials and argued for more renewable energy.
Toward the end she mentioned, “I know we face a lot of challenges around the world, but everything I’ve seen convinces me that we can meet those challenges.” She concluded with a possible teaser of things to come. “It’s really great to be back. Lets not let another seven years go buy.”