DES MOINES — Nearly 3,000 Iowa Democrats cheered their seven candidates who would be governor in 2018 and shared laughs at the expense of President Trump and other Republicans with actor/comedian Alec Baldwin during the party’s fall gala Monday evening.
Baldwin, 59, an award-winning actor, writer and comedian who has won notoriety most recently for his impersonations of President Donald Trump on the sketch-comedy TV show Saturday Night Live, regaled the crowd with zingers aimed at the president for half of his 30-minute presentation before turning serious in exhorting Democrats to go all out to reverse GOP gains in 2016 during next year’s mid-term elections.
“I am ready to fight,” Baldwin told the party faithful in sounding the alarm that the party has to revitalize its farm team and build on recent Democratic election victories around the country as they head into a crucial 2018 campaign cycle.
“We’ve got party building to do on a scale we’ve never known,” said Baldwin, who used Trump’s 2016 campaign theme to coin a new battle cry for Democrats “make America America again.”
Baldwin opened his part of the Iowa gala by offering a Trump University tutorial based in part on the research he had done in the course of his comedy routines, telling the crowd “I’ve studied Donald Trump longer than anyone should be required to.”
The SNL star said he has been conflicted by mocking Trump because he worries it normalizes the president to the detriment of the country.
“I still choke down the words every day – President Trump,” said Baldwin, who noted that Democrats like him only have themselves to blame because they did not work hard enough in 2016.
He cheered the Iowa candidates who spoke earlier and made the crowd pledge that after next June’s primary election that they will work to elect the candidates who will their party’s nominations.
“His message about unity was really important,” said Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor and U.S. secretary of state in the Obama administration who attended the state party function.
All seven of the Democrats running for governor in 2018 -- Jon Neiderbach, Andy McGuire, John Norris, Fred Hubbell, Cathy Glasson, Nate Boulton and Ross Wilburn – spoke during the gala program which at times took on the air of a pep rally as the various camps supporting gubernatorial candidates shouted campaign slogans, pounded thunder sticks and green lightsabers.
“This has been a hard year for Democrats, where we were a year ago. We’ve done a lot over the last year to rebuild this party and redefine what our party is out there doing and what our party is out there fighting for,” said Troy Price, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party. “It’s a night to hang out as a family,” Price said of the gala event, “but tomorrow we have to get back to work.”
Carlos Cruz, spokesman for the Republican Party of Iowa, saw Monday evening’s event differently.
"As Democrats continue to struggle in appealing to rural voters, we're glad they're taking the time to hang out in Des Moines with Hollywood millionaire Alec Baldwin,” Cruz said in a statement.
“It's clear that Democrats — whether they're running for governor, for Congress, or for dogcatcher — have no vision for Iowa and will continue to look down on rural Iowans, repeating the same tired old liberal talking points that have been rejected at the ballot box time and again over the last seven years," he added.