‘Our country wants women to lead’

The last election cycle — one that saw two congresswomen emerge from Iowa and other gains by female candidates nationally — reveals voters’ hunger for more women in office, a trend that will boost the political fortunes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the Iowa caucuses, one of her more visible supporters said Saturday in Carroll.

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, a New Mexico Democrat and the first Native American woman to preside over Congress, said she’s urging people to vote their hearts — not strategically on who they think other Democrats and even Republicans may find an acceptable alternative to President Trump, a commander in chief Haaland described as a “rogue president.”

And, yes, Haaland says, a woman can win the presidency.

“Look what happened in the last election,” Haaland said in an interview. “I won my election in a wave of women. This wave of women that came into Congress this election, it was historical. People want women to lead. Our country wants women to lead, otherwise we wouldn’t have won as many seats as we did. We all won our primaries. We won our general elections. 

“Women right here in Iowa, who I’m serving with, my colleagues (Congresswomen) Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer, they won their primaries, they won their elections, so you tell me if the people of Iowa don’t want a woman to lead.”

On the debate stage, Warren focuses entirely on the issues, says Haaland, who talked to campaign volunteers for Warren, the Democratic presidential candidate, in west-central Iowa.

“She’s not going to be talking to Donald Trump, she’s going to be talking to the voters of our country who are actually going to vote her into office,” Haaland said. “She knows the issues extremely well.” 

Then there is the matter of the sheer intellectual firepower Haaland said Warren brings to the table.

“I don’t think Trump is a match for her intellect,” Haaland said. “Can I see that person in the White House? Absolutely.”

Haaland said it makes no sense for Democratic primary voters to obsess over electability speculation in the general election, guessing what Democrat can get the support of their Republican in-laws. 

Go with your heart, she tells Democrats.

Haaland, a former state Democratic leader in New Mexico and candidate for lieutenant governor in that Southwest state who has been organizing in politics for close to 20 years, says she knows a well-oiled campaign when she sees one, and that’s just what Haaland says Warren, a Massachusetts U.S. senator, is running.

“For me, it’s in my gut, it’s in my heart, so I have to believe that people will just go back to that and say, ‘Yes, I know who the best candidate is, and I’m just going to vote for her.’ And it will be Elizabeth Warren,” Haaland said.

Warren, who grew up working-class, connects with audiences when discussing her roots on the “ragged edge in Oklahoma,” said Haaland, a former small business owner who operated a company that canned salsa, Pueblo Salsa.

Haaland, 59, is a 35th generation New Mexican whose family came to what is now the United States around the year 1200. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna people. 

Her late father, Marine Maj. J. D. “Dutch” Haaland’s family, which came from Norway, has members who initially settled in the Sioux City region. Haaland’s father earned the Silver Star for his service in the Vietnam War. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, on the other end of the National Mall from where Haaland serves in the U.S. Capitol. 

Her military family moved so frequently that Haaland attended 13 public schools as a girl.

She talked about how her ancestors from Norway interacted with Plains Indians, cooperation that heart-warmingly foreshadowed the marriage between her Native American mother and Norwegian ancestored father.

“When you look into history, Native Americans, they helped the Europeans,” Haaland said. “They wouldn’t have survived past their first winter if they didn’t have the help from Native Americans. We had farmed and worked this land for centuries and centuries before any Europeans got here. We knew how to survive and to sustain ourselves. 

“Without our knowledge, the knowledge of Native Americans, the Europeans may never have gained a foothold, frankly.”

Haaland spoke just hours after reports were published of Trump ripping into the nation’s military brass, calling generals and other leaders “a bunch of dopes and babies,” according to previews of the book “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America” set for Tuesday release.

“My dad, being a 30-year career Marine, I’ve been disheartened over pretty much every single thing President Trump has ever done,” Haaland said. “That’s why I’m working on this campaign. That’s why I voted for impeachment.”

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