OTTUMWA — Gov. John Hickenlooper campaigned in Ottumwa on Monday as part of his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Hickenlooper, who said the country is more divided than at any point since the Civil War, made a point of saying efforts to address the country’s problems will require making room at the table for everyone to be heard. He pointed to efforts that brought broadband internet service to all Colorado towns as an example.
Access to high-speed internet is critical to business, but it has lagged in rural parts of the country. That includes Colorado. Denver is easily the most populous area, but other parts of the state are far from major population centers.
“We did it by bringing together businesses and professionals,” Hickenlooper said. “We did not demonize businesses. We did it by bringing Democrats and Republicans to the table. We made sure everybody had a place.”
Taxes on marijuana, which is legal for recreational use in Colorado, helped pay for some of Hickenlooper’s initiatives. He admitted he was not in favor of legalization, with concerns about access for minors and whether people would drive after using the drug. Neither of those concerns came to pass, he said.
Efforts to encourage the use of electrical vehicles, which Hickenlooper said is critical in addressing climate change, was a multi-state effort. He used Colorado’s plan for fast-charging stations to help bring other states on board. Once a couple states agreed to expand the stations, he told others they needed to be part of a regional network to ensure people from states that made it easy to drive electric cars could visit them.
“We got all 10 western states, five Republican [governors] and five Democrats, who are all in,” he said.
When asked about agriculture, Hickenlooper said he has concerns. Higher temperatures will make some crops less viable over time. Soybean production, a major Iowa crop, will shift north of areas where it has been present for generations.
Hickenlooper did not attack his rivals for the nomination directly. He urged voters to take a good look at his record as compared to theirs, saying he feels “like I’m the only candidate who has a record of doing things that all the other candidates have only talked about.”
The approach continued on foreign policy.
“President Trump is really an isolationist. He wants to turn away from other nations. A lot of the Democrats are similar,” he said.
It’s not easy to get everyone to come together, Hickenlooper said. But being difficult and being impossible are two different things.
“We’re all dealing with the same challenges,” he said.