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Some Democrat Farmers In Iowa Grow Cold On Party


We're going to stay in Iowa a little longer to hear more voices ahead of tomorrow's caucuses. Morning Edition host David Greene is in Iowa right now, and he's here to share with us what he's seeing there.

Hi, David.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: Hey there, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: So tell us where you've been so far.

GREENE: I think it's better if I just play you a little sound. It'll give you some idea, so listen to this.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Unintelligible).

GREENE: So that is sound from a cattle auction in Creston, Iowa. That's a town right near the Missouri border where we went. Cattle were brought into a pen. The auctioneer was shouting. Buyers were raising their hands. I think that gives you an idea.

MCCAMMON: Yeah, that sounds like an auction to me. And who'd you find there?

GREENE: I mean, you can hear it was hard to hear anything in that room. But if you went just off the arena, there was this coffee shop, and farmers were hanging out there. And I asked them if we could sit down. And they said, oh, no, we don't have much to say. So they had much to say.

MCCAMMON: (Laughter).

GREENE: A guy named Shorty Martin (ph) went right into Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the House impeachment manager.

SHORTY MARTIN: We always called him Adam [expletive]. (Laughter) Don't record that.


PAT MEANS: Glad to have a nest of Republicans.

GREENE: But actually, we hadn't. Some of these guys were registered Democrats. And that's what makes Iowa's so interesting. I mean, for one thing, the Democratic Party needs to bring at least some people who voted for President Trump in 2016 back into the fold. Now, across the table from me here, there were two brothers, both Democrats. They think very differently.

MEANS: I've tried to educate him since he was 6, and I can't learn him nothing.

DAN: I'm a registered Democrat, but all the Democrats has got the giveaways.

GREENE: The one doing the educating there is Pat Means (ph). He can't stand Trump.

MEANS: He's the biggest con man that'd ever come down the pike - the biggest con man that ever come down the pike.

GREENE: So you're going to caucus on Monday?

MEANS: Yes, sir.

GREENE: Pat's going for Joe Biden.

Why Biden?

MEANS: Because he's had experience.

GREENE: Will you vote for whichever Democrat wins, though, in November?

MEANS: Oh, yeah.


MEANS: It's, like, put a pig up for a Democrat, I'll vote for him.

GREENE: OK. So he'd vote for anyone over Trump. But then there's Dan, his brother.

GREENE: And you, sir - you're a Democrat, but you voted for Trump in 2016. Did you vote for Obama before that? Yeah. You're nodding your head yes.

DAN: Yeah (laughter).

GREENE: Why did you change to Trump?

DAN: The government giveaways are paid for by tax dollars that us working and people pay taxes. And there's a thousand jobs in this area right here, so why is there any welfare?

GREENE: Was there something that Trump has said that you liked that really drew...

DAN: Oh, he's just a businessman, and we need a businessman. We've got too many politicians.

GREENE: Shorty decided to get back in here.

MARTIN: Trump has raised the national debt 80 trillion since he's been...

DAN: Well, Obama did it more than anybody.

MARTIN: No, Trump...

DAN: Yes, he did.

MARTIN: ...Did it more than all of...

DAN: Yeah, you'd better check your numbers.


GREENE: All right. So one of the other guys at the table was John Baker (ph), also a Democrat - crop farmer, raises cattle. He also voted for Trump. My producer, Ashley Westerman, asked him this.

ASHLEY WESTERMAN, BYLINE: When did the Democratic Party lose you?

JOHN BAKER: Oh, it was probably the '80s.

GREENE: That was during the farm crisis. But it's been a while. So I wondered...

Can the party get you back?

BAKER: No. They're not near what they were in the '60s.

GREENE: What would they have to do over time to win back your support?

BAKER: I don't want to even see socialism in this country, and that Democratic Party is closer to socialism than any other party there is.

GREENE: What about someone like Mike Bloomberg, for example, who seems moderate? He ran the city of New York.

BAKER: I'd have to listen more, but - possibility. That's just me.

MCCAMMON: So, David, you heard a lot of different perspectives there at that cattle auction in Creston, Iowa. What do you make of all of it?

GREENE: The one thing I'll say - John, that last voice you heard - I mean, he got federal farm subsidies to help deal with President Trump's tariffs. He knows the value of federal programs - which, of course, is a core Democratic Party value. And my question is, can the party figure out how to get voters like John back? Because they haven't figured it out yet.

MCCAMMON: That's Morning Edition host David Greene in Iowa.

Thanks so much, David.

GREENE: Thanks, Sarah.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE APPLES' "POWDER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
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