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Delaney Stands By Moderate Approach, Says He's 'Not Going Anywhere'

John Pemble/IPR
Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney defended his more moderate policies at a speech at the Iowa State Fair.

Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney is standing by his argument that what it takes to defeat President Donald Trump is a pragmatic approach that will unify voters across the political spectrum. Speaking to reporters and potential caucus-goers at the Iowa State Fair on Friday, Delaney said that the country needs “real solutions and not impossible promises”.

“I think most of these people when they actually have an opportunity to hear my policies will see the progressive instincts behind them but they’ll see the pragmatist and the solutions-oriented person.”

The comments made at the Des Moines’ Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair are an apparent criticism of those presidential candidates running left of him and advocating for more progressive policies, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. At the latest debate, Warren rebutted Delaney’s arguments for moderation by saying, “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for."

The former congressman and business executive, like many of the presidential candidates visiting the Iowa State Fair this week, faced questions from reporters about whether he believes President Trump is a white supremacist. Trump’s statements referring to immigrants as “an invasion” and “animals” has garnered renewed criticism as the same rhetoric was echoed in an online statement believed to be posted by the suspect accused of killing 22 people in El Paso, many of them of Latino heritage.

Warren, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang have said they consider Trump as a “white supremacist." When pressed by reporters and fairgoers Friday, Delaney stopped short of that exact phrasing, but saying the president “enables white supremacists."

“Say it,” a fairgoer said. “Say he’s a white supremacist.”

“Well that’s what I’m basically saying,” Delaney replied.

“No you didn’t! Say he’s a white supremacist,” the man called out.

“He supports white supremacy, so that…what else can you conclude?” Delaney asked.

While at the fair Delaney also touted his years-long campaign in the state; he had already visited each of Iowa’s 99 counties before many other candidates had formally declared their bids. Despite his trailing polling numbers and an apparent left-ward shift in his party’s overall politics, Delaney says he has no plans to leave the campaign trail.

“We’re sticking with our plan. I feel good about it. I truly believe in everything I’m saying and doing. I think what’s going to help me is when the field gets smaller,” Delaney said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Delaney has not yet qualified for the third round of Democratic debates, slated for September 12th and 13th in Houston. Under scaled-up qualification rules set by the Democratic National Committee, candidates must garner donations from 130,000 unique donors and clear 2 percent in four qualifying polls.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter