Twenty-one days and counting until the Iowa Caucuses and the dueling between the top two candidates vying for each party’s presidential nomination is growing more intense.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are engaged in a quarrel about gun issues. During an interview with Iowa Public Radio, Clinton criticized Sanders for voting to give gun makers and gun retailers liability protection from lawsuits.
“When it really mattered, Senator Sanders voted with the gun lobby and I voted against the gun lobby,” Clinton said in a phone interview with IPR last week. “…Guns should be a voting issue. Senator Sanders has been wrong on gun safety.”
Sanders responded on Saturday.
“There is a mythology going around that I am not concerned about the mass killings that we have seen in this country and about the fact that guns are falling into the hands…of people who should not have them,” he said.
And Sanders said he’d support changing the law so gun manufacturers that “act irresponsibly” could be sued. Martin O’Malley, the other candidate in the Democratic race, went to a gun show in Cedar Rapids on Saturday to highlight his support of a ban on the sale of assault weapons.
“The easiest place to get a combat assault weapon in America is at a gun show, like this one here,” O’Malley said.
Both O’Malley and Sanders spent the weekend barnstorming the state. The two appeared at a “Putting Families First” forum on Saturday in Des Moines hosted by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. After O’Malley spoke the crowd of 700 noted the absence of the third candidate in the race, chanting: “Where is Hillary?”
During this campaign swing through Iowa, Sanders has been challenging Clinton to join him in supporting an increase in the payroll tax to ensure all Americans get three months of paid family and medical leave.
“I look forward to seeing Secretary Clinton come on board that legislation,” Sanders said Saturday night in Des Moines.
Clinton has said rather than raise the payroll tax, she’d raise taxes on the wealthy to help pay for 12-weeks of paid family and medical leave for American workers. Sanders, O’Malley and Clinton are due to appear together tonight at the Iowa Brown, Black Forum at Drake University.
On the Republican side, Ted Cruz wrapped up his six-day bus tour of the state on Saturday night.
“The single biggest difference between me and the other very, very fine men and women standing on that debate stage is that with me, when I tell you I’m going to do something, I’m going to do exactly what I said I would do,” Cruz said during his stump speech along the trail.
Donald Trump appeared at two rallies in Iowa Saturday.
“We’ve got to win Iowa,” Trump said. “…Otherwise, we’re wasting our time, folks.”
Trump criticized Cruz’s call to end the federal ethanol production mandate and questioned whether Cruz is a “natural born” citizen. Cruz says his mother was a U.S. citizen when he was born in Canada and it’s settled law that he is a U.S. citizen.
“The media, with all due respect, love to engage in silly side shows,” Cruz told CNN’s Dana Bash during an interview on his campaign bus. “We need to focus on what matters.”
And Cruz said during a stop in Decorah that his 28-county tour of the state this past week shows he has the “humility” to commit the kind of time required to “compete and win” the Iowa Caucuses — a not-so-subtle hint that rivals like Trump aren’t investing as much personal time here.
Three other Republican candidates were in Iowa this weekend. Ben Carson attended Sunday services at churches in Des Moines and Pleasant Hill. Rick Santorum campaigned in northwest Iowa on Sunday and John Kasich held a town hall meeting in Council Bluffs Sunday evening.