Then-Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman addresses supporters during an event in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, 10/27/22 (Capital-Star photo by Ethan Dodd).
U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) will be the headline speaker for the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Liberty & Justice Dinner early next month. And like Gov. Josh Shapiro’s recent appearance at a Democrats’ convention in New Hampshire, the Fetterman visit to Iowa is all but certain to spark speculation about presidential aspirations.
Asked about concerns that the Iowa visit might be perceived this way, the Fetterman campaign said it was the senator’s 2022 run for office that prompted the Iowa Democrats to send him an invite.
“In 2022, Senator Fetterman’s campaign slogan was ‘every county, every vote,’ which is the idea that Democrats need to speak to and fight for voters everywhere — even in places that Democrats don’t usually win,” Michael Mikail, a spokesperson for the Fetterman campaign told the Capital-Star in an email. “That message resonated with people all over the country and that’s why the Iowa Democrats invited him to speak at their annual Liberty and Justice Dinner.”
Rita Hart, Iowa Democratic Party Chair said the group was “thrilled” to have Fetterman as its speaker. “His well-earned victory in his Senate race last year is proof that Democrats can win rural voters as well as urban ones by sticking to our values.” Hart said in a press release. “John is just the kind of authentic, passionate leader Iowans are drawn to — and we can’t wait to hear from him in person.”
Fetterman said he “figured Iowans could use a break from the clown show of GOP presidential candidates” who have been visiting the Hawkeye State in hopes of securing support for the party nomination.
He said in addition to appealing to Democrats in rural areas, he would be working to boost President Joe Biden’s reelection bid.
“I’ve always believed that Democrats need to be making our case to voters in every part of the state and every part of the county. I ran on a slogan of ‘every county, every vote’ — and I think that’s how Democrats can still win in rural areas, whether in Pennsylvania or in states like Iowa,” Fetterman said.
Fetterman’s speech on Nov. 4 will be his “first major out-of-state event since being elected to the Senate last year,” the Iowa Democratic Party said in a press release.
Fetterman and Shapiro, who bested Republicans Mehmet Oz and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, respectively in 2022, did so by attracting voters in areas that previously supported former President Donald Trump.
Although Republican candidates for president have stressed the importance of winning Iowa, the state is no longer the first Democratic presidential caucus on the 2024 calendar, which has become a sore spot for Democrats there.
And, Fetterman’s speech in Iowa isn’t the first time that a prominent Pennsylvania Democrat has headlined a different state’s Democratic Party dinner this year.
On Sept. 30, Shapiro provided the keynote address to a New Hampshire Democratic Party gathering, where the first-term governor’s appearance continued to fuel chatter about his aspirations for the Oval Office, which the governor has mostly brushed aside.
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