During speech this evening Christie Vilsack — the Democratic candidate in Iowa’s fourth congressional district — focused on her potential as a groundbreaking politician.

Iowa has never elected a woman as governor or sent a woman to serve in congress. During remarks at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, Vilsack mentioned a four-year-old Storm Lake girl who gave Vilsack a book to take to Washington.

“For me, what this election is all about is all the Madelines out there across the state. I want to make sure that Madeline and all the other little Madelines grow up knowing that being a woman is not a barrier to running for office or anything else,” Vilsack said. “So I will be the first woman elected to congress from the state of Iowa.”

Vilsack faces Republican Congressman Steve King in the General Election. 

“He has voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act. He has voted twice against the Violence Against Women Act. He has basically suggested that maybe states should be able to ban contraceptives, even for married people,” she said. “…Steve King votes against women and I’m going to vote for them.”

Vilsack’s husband — former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack — spoke a bit later in the evening.

“Folks, I appreciate the opportunity to be here. I realize that I’m not running and I’m sort of a has-been and I now realize that I’m the second-best politician in my family,” Vilsack said, to laughter and applause.

Vilsack, who is serving as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, made a pitch to the crowd on his wife’s behalf.

“Zero — that’s the number of women who’ve been elected to the congress, the senate or the governorship from this state,” Vilsack said. “I’m pleading with you to make that number one in this election.”

Two other Iowa Democrats who’re running for congress this year — Bruce Braley of Waterloo and Leonard Boswell of Des Moines — spoke to their party’s annual fall fundraiser, too. Congressman Dave Loebsack was in the Quad Cities for a television debate with his Republican opponent John Archer on Saturday night. He recorded a brief video message that was played at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Des Moines.

Listen to the speeches below:

AUDIO of Christie Vilsack’s speech

AUDIO of Tom Vilsack’s speech

AUDIO of Bruce Braley’s speech

AUDIO of Leonard Boswell’s speech

AUDIO of Dave Loebsack’s recorded message