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Hickenlooper campaigns in Charles City, says nation facing a ‘crisis of division’

  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper takes questions at a campaign stop in Charles City on Saturday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took questions at a campaign stop in Charles City on Saturday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took questions at a campaign stop in Charles City on Saturday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took questions at a campaign stop in Charles City on Saturday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took questions at a campaign stop in Charles City on Saturday. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says he wants to unite a divided country.

“For the last year and a half, I’ve been looking at what this country has come to,” Hickenlooper said Saturday morning at a campaign stop in Charles City. “I’m running for president because I think we’re facing a monumental crisis — a crisis of division. I don’t think we’ve been this divided since the Civil War.”

About 50 people gathered at the Iowa Title & Realty Co. office in Charles City, owned by Jim Davis, to listen to Hickenlooper speak and ask him some questions. It was the recently-declared presidential candidate’s first campaign stop of the day.

Hickenlooper announced last week that he was seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination to run in the 2020 election against the presumed nominee President Donald Trump.

He said that much of the divisiveness in the country predates the 2018 election.

“Defeating Donald Trump is absolutely essential, but it is not sufficient,” Hickelooper said. “I feel that division is keeping us from dealing with some of the big issues, like health care.”

Hickenlooper said he wants to get to universal health care coverage, but before that, he wants to address the high costs, which he said are spiraling out of control.

Hickenlooper, who initially moved to Colorado to start a career as a geologist, spoke at length about environmental issues, and said that the world is at a “tipping point” when it comes to global climate change.

“We’re beginning to approach the point where we can no longer get back certain things we’ll lose,” he said. “I look at God’s creations and believe we all have a responsibility for that.”

Hickenlooper said that as Colorado governor, he was able to get the environmental community to sit down with the oil and gas industry and create the first methane regulations in the United States.

“These guys hate each other,” Hickenlooper said, but once they were able to sit down, listen to each other and talk to each other, they were able to come to an agreement.

Hickenlooper made stops in in Des Moines, Cedar Falls, Dubuque, Clinton and Cedar Rapids Saturday. He is one of 12 Democrats who have officially announced they are running for their party’s nomination, with several more expected to get into the race.

The latest CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa Caucus voters, released over the weekend, showed former Vice-President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders as frontrunners. Biden was the favorite of 27 percent of the respondents while Sanders was the favorite of 25 percent. All other candidates are in single digits, with Hickenlooper among a handful of candidates receiving less than 1 percent.

Hickenlooper said he believes he can stand out among a large field of contenders.

“Most Iowans, I think, are pretty straight forward and want to see results,” he said. “I look at the records of the other candidates, and I think we demonstrated more results than any other candidate in terms of getting stuff done.”

When he announced his candidacy last week, Hickenlooper’s campaign raised more than $1 million in less than 24 hours.

“I am running for president because I can beat Donald Trump, but more importantly, I think I can bring us all together on the other side,” Hickenlooper said. “I believe I can get people to begin working together again to create real progress.”

One in attendance asked Hickenlooper what could be done about the nation’s rising deficit. The candidate said that the first step would be to undo some of the damage done by the tax cut bill that passed at the end of 2017.

“I know some very wealthy people, and I don’t think any one of them really fought for that tax cut or really cared about it,” said Hickenlooper, who added that 30 percent of the tax cuts signed into law by President Trump last year went went to foreign individuals and foreign companies who are invested in the U.S. stock market.

“I don’t think that was the intention,” he said, and added that increasing some of the marginal tax rates for the wealthy and for corporations was only one part of what needs to be done. ”The other part of it is finding ways to make government more efficient. I don’t think government has to be bigger, I think government has to be better.”

He said that the morale of federal workers has suffered at the hands of the current occupant of the White House.

“One of the things that Trump has done to this country is, he’s disrespected workers at every level,” Hickenlooper said. “When you destroy the morale of a workforce, your costs go up, your efficiency goes down, and all kinds of bad things happen. We need to renew our partnership with the employees of the country.”

Hickenlooper, who was elected mayor of Denver in 2003 and governor of Colorado in 2010, moved to Colorado in the early 1980s. When his geology career didn’t work out, he said he had to recreate himself. He opened the first brew pub in the Rocky Mountains, and when the business took off, he opened 15 other brew pubs throughout the Midwest, mostly in small cities and towns. He said friends talked him into running for mayor, and he won with 65 percent of the vote.

“There was a real appetite for that vision, of people working together,” he said.

He touted the support from Colorado farmers, ranchers and rural communities he received as governor.

“By 2020, we will be the first state to have broadband in every hospital, every school and every town,” he said. “We were 40th in job creation, now we’re the No. 1 or No. 2 economy in America. I think we’re going to have the strongest rural economy in the country.”

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