- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2020

MASON CITY, Iowa — Kirk Schriver voted for President Trump in 2016 but says he plans to change his party affiliation so he can vote for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden in the Democratic caucuses and hopefully in the November general election.

The 2020 presidential contenders are on the hunt for voters such as Mr. Schriver who have buyer’s remorse after helping power Mr. Trump to victory here in Iowa and across the upper Midwest.

“I did vote for him the first time. I won’t again,” Mr. Schriver told The Washington Times at a Biden town hall event here in Cerro Gordo County, one of the 31 counties that swung behind Mr. Trump after backing President Obama in 2012.

Mr. Biden and several of his rivals have been making direct appeals to the Schrivers of the world as they look to strengthen their hand in the 2020 nomination race and show voters they can do the thing they care about the most: topple Mr. Trump.

In a broader sense, Democrats also are hoping it shows the party is poised to build upon the gains they made here in 2018 when they flipped a pair of congressional seats — making history by sending the state’s first Democratic women to Congress: Reps. Abby Finkenhauer and Cindy Axne.



Democrats also picked up legislative seats in the rapidly growing Des Moines suburbs, which could prove pivotal in putting Iowa back in the blue column.

The political pendulum swung in the opposite direction during the Obama years, which started with Iowa Democrats controlling the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature. It ended with the GOP capturing control of the three levers of state government in 2016.

The GOP’s brand, though, has taken a hit under Mr. Trump in the eyes of some “lifelong” Republicans, including Thomas Morin.

The self-described “conservative” sat out the 2016 election, but for the first time in his life plans to caucus for a Democrat, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and vote for whoever ends up being Mr. Trump’s opponent in the fall.

“President Trump has just done a lot of things that are very disturbing to me as a conservative and as a lifelong Republican,” Mr. Morin, 65, said after the Warren event in Des Moines. “Everything that Trump has done has been, I think, the wrong move.

Trump has taken over the party and I am disappointed in that.”

Campaigning with Mr. Biden in Ames this week, former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack asked voters to think about voters like that when they consider which of the 2020 Democratic candidates is best positioned to appeal to disillusioned Republicans in the general election.

“I want to make sure the people that I know who are not Democrats, who may be independents or Republicans — that I can give them a choice so that they can walk into a voting booth and vote for someone other than Donald Trump,” she said. “I am urging you to be practical Iowans when you cast your votes.”

Political observers say it is hard to gauge the depth of the anti-Trump sentiment and how many Republicans could be up for grabs in 2020.

What is clear is that Mr. Trump’s tax cuts and Supreme Court picks remain wildly popular among Republicans. GOP voters also have cut him some slack in the trade wars that have added to the state’s tough agricultural times.

Chris Struthers, a corn and soybean farmer, said the loyalty Republicans are showing Mr. Trump is mind-boggling.

“They are like an abused spouse,” Mr. Struthers said. “That’s the way I think, because he’ll abuse them and then be like, ‘Hey here’s a bone’” with bailout checks to help them weather the trade war with China.

The 52-year-old, who is leaning toward supporting Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, said he doesn’t know a single Trump voter who has flipped.

The scenario has left some Democrats resigned to the prospect of Mr. Trump winning a second term.

“I am sure that Donald Trump is going to get back in there,” said 58-year-old Lisa Hein after attending a Pete Buttigieg campaign event in Ames. “People are going to be like, ‘The economy is going well, what the heck I will vote for him,’ and I think he can rally his base.”

Others Democrats say they are feeling optimistic about their chances of defeating Mr. Trump — if for no other reason than Hillary Clinton is not going to be atop the ticket.

“He drew an inside straight to win the last time around, and I don’t think that if he would have run against anybody else that he would have,” said Ken Meyer, who is mulling over his options in the Democratic race. “I don’t think he can do it twice in a row.”

The 66-year-old said he is planning to canvas door-to-door for the first time in his life in hopes of stopping Mr. Trump.

“I feel I just can’t sit on the sidelines because if I do we get people like Donald Trump,” Mr. Meyer said. “I feel I have to.”

As for Mr. Schriver, he said he voted for Mr. Trump last time because he came across as having more common sense than Mrs. Clinton and said he couldn’t stomach voting for her because he disapproved of the way she handled the 2012 Benghazi attack as secretary of state.

But now he says he has had enough of the polarization and brash brand of politics that have defined the Trump era, adding he doesn’t understand how the president expects lawmakers to work with him when he’s constantly calling them names and insulting them.

“The whole country seems like it is reverting back to the 1960s where everybody is like this with each other,” the 65-year-old said, bringing his fists together. “Tensions are high and people are mad about everything. That stuff has got to quit.

“You just can’t have it.”

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