News Roundup: Hillary and Edwards Stump Rural; Toll in Iraq Turns Rural Iowa Against War

In the weekend news, Edwards plots his poverty tour, Hillary courts rural voters, a divided Democratic Party faces the farm bill, and small town Iowa bears the burden of the Iraq War.

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Father of Aaron Sissel
Army Spec. Aaron Sissel of Tipton, Iowa, died in the first year of the Iraq War. Here, Sissel's father receives a memorial quilt from Home of the Brave Quilts in Dec. 2005. Tipton has lost two soldiers in Iraq. The Washington Post reports this weekend that rural Iowa is turning against the war.

Democrats lost the White House in 2000 and 2004 because they received so few votes from rural communities. The party seems to have learned its lesson.

Sen. Hillary Clinton has established “Rural Americans for Hillary," what the Democratic candidate says is the “very first constituency group my campaign organized. That was not by accident." Clinton said she had put former USDA appointee Elizabeth Jones in charge of RAH; give her a ring at 703-469-2008, ext. 1104. Or email: [email protected]

Meanwhile, John Edwards launches his “poverty tour" of America Sunday in New Orleans. On Monday, he’ll travel the Mississippi Delta. Wednesday, he’ll visit Appalachian Kentucky. Both retrace the campaign tour taken by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy when he ran for president in 1968.

In rural Iowa, according to the Washington Post, the toll of the Iraq War is mounting — as is disappointment in the administration of George Bush. "It's hitting all around us," said Jim Allen, a salesman and former Bush voter at Fields Men's Wear on the town square in Tipton told Post reporter Peter Slevin. "Once we got (into Iraq), I thought, 'Let's get it taken care of.' Now it's dragged on and on. It's just every day, you hear of more casualties."

David BehrleSpc. David W. Behrle, 20, of Tipton, Iowa, died May 19, 2007 in Baghdad,
after a bomb exploded near his vehicle

According to Slevin’s count, “in the first six months of the year, 125 troops from 10 Midwestern states died in Iraq, the bloodiest stretch of the war so far. Over the past year, 239 from those states have died, compared with 129 from July 2003 to June 2004."

Slevin wrote: “While opposition to the war has been stronger and more visible on the East and West coasts, small towns in the heartland and the South have provided the Bush administration with some of its most steadfast backers. But that support has cracked amid the echoes of graveside bagpipes and 21-gun salutes, which have been heard with greater frequency in recent months in small Midwestern communities."

Rural areas and more rural states have borne a disproportionate share of the burden in Iraq, as the Yonder has reported. Slevin finds the war burden is having political effects. "I've never heard anybody now say the war is okay. Maybe around two years ago," one Tipton resident told Slevin. "It's time to get the hell out. It's a holy war, and you're not going to win it, no matter what you do."

In one final bit of weekend political news, the Washington Post reports that Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee are split on what should be done with the farm bill. The committee is set to take up the bill this week.

Post reporter Dan Morgan describes the conflict: “A coalition of Democratic-leaning environmental organizations, anti-poverty groups and church organizations are pushing to redirect some subsidies to conservation, wetlands preservation, rural development and nutrition. But top Democrats are reluctant to push too hard for changes that could put at risk Democratic freshmen from 'red' states, which backed President Bush's re-election in 2004 and where the farm vote is still a factor in close elections."

One freshman Democrat, Ohio’s Zack Space, doesn’t represent a district filled with corporate mega-farms. Yet he is still reluctant to change the current system. “I'm not in the reform camp," he said. "I'm with the farmers back home who are generally satisfied with the commodity program we have now."

 

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