Hillary Clinton returns to Iowa

Hillary After Speech Harkin Fry

Hillary after her speech at the annual Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa. / Photo by Kimberly Toillion

Signs Steak Fry 2

The green pastures around the Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa. / Photo by Kimberly Toillion

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.

Bill helping Hillary up Stairs

Former President Bill Clinton helps former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton up the stairs. / Photo by Kimberly Toillion

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.”

Rope line Harkin Steak fry 2014

Hillary along the rope line interacting with the Iowa crowd. / Photo by Kimberly Toillion

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.”

Bill Clinton also attended the steak fry. His speech covered many of the same themes as Hillary’s, but took a more direct aim at Republicans. He singled out Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, and blasted Republicans for being beholden to “black bag money.”

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