CHICAGO — In the 2020 waters, President Donald Trump will be launching his reelection bid next week in Florida. On the Democratic side, nearly two dozen candidates have launched bids, but they have to win their party’s nomination. And along that path, Iowa and Chicago are crucial stops.
For the men and women who want to be president, Chicago has become the place to hit up.
It makes sense. Top consultants and uber-wealthy donors live on the city. Also, Chicago’s close proximity to Iowa, home of the first caucus contest, makes for a good place to strategize and raise campaign coin.
Three contenders for the Democratic nomination visited Chicago this week, including Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.
Bullock is one of 23 Democrats running for president. He’s trying to stand out by telling voters he’s only candidate who won in a red state that Trump carried.
“I mean Donald Trump took Montana by 20 points. I was on the ballot. I won by four,” he said. “I think you have to give people a reason to vote for you and not just against him. And places that we lost Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, we have to win those back if we’re going to win this time. Look, I’m not so naïve to think that every voter will hold hands together and skip through those buttercup fields, so you can’t get every voter, but what you can do is there’s a whole lot of folks whose lives are too busy for politics and if they believe we as Democrats are fighting for their health care, their safety, the ability to climb the economic ladder."
Bullock said his signature issue is campaign finance reform.
“Republicans can’t even acknowledge that climate change is real because of the outside spending,” he said. “If people feel like that they have no influence in the system, then they’re not going to vote, then they’re going to drop out, then this 240-year experiment called representative democracy is in a lot of trouble if folks don’t even recognize that their vote is there, is their voice.”
Bullock is making retail stops in the early voting states and sitting down for every interview he can. He has to, because he did not make the cut for the Democratic debates. The governor said that will not slow him down.
On Thursday Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who remains neutral, tweeted encouraging words to the underdogs.
“Several months ago, I was cut from a debate of the “frontrunner” candidates and public polls had me at 3 percent,” she said. “Today I am Mayor of Chicago. To all the Democrats running for president, I say this: if you are running for the right reasons, never stop fighting.”
“We’re still 240 days out from the first voter expressing his or her preference. So I’ll continue to build that ground game of people talking to people,” Bullock said.
The Democratic National Convention is being held in Milwaukee next summer and there is a push to get attendees to visit Chicago.