But the Minnesota Democrat couldn’t help but find himself in Iowa this weekend as GOP presidential hopefuls — including former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — participated in an Iowa Republican presidential forum in Des Moines and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at Drake University.
On Friday, Walz traveled to Iowa’s largest city, where he was a guest of the Iowa Democratic Party and held a press conference with journalists in town to cover the Iowa Republican Lincoln Dinner and Harris’s speech.
During his press conference, Walz made the claim that Minnesotans “commonly refer to [Iowa] as the Deep South for Minnesota.” He also intimated, according to Iowa-based journalist Ty Rushing, that he’s planning to visit the Iowa State Fair next month.
And while he mentioned his support for the “Biden-Harris administration” more than a half dozen times, Walz spent most of his 25-minute press availability lobbing insults at the Republican presidential candidates who were in town for the event, billed as a preview of the pivotal Iowa caucuses that will kick off the GOP presidential primary season in January.
“While they are going to go over there tonight and debate what books to ban, we are banning hunger in our schools, with the help of the Biden-Harris administration,” Walz told journalists. He then rattled off a list of accomplishments he achieved with the DFL majority in the legislature, including a new universal school meals program, paid family leave legislation, new abortion protections, two new gun restriction laws and a new law restoring voting rights for felons who are still serving parole or probation.
“In Minnesota, and the Upper Midwest, we’ve always been proud about expanding and opening access to the ballot,” Walz said. “The debates over there tonight will be how to make that more difficult, how to hand pick the people who you want to be able to vote.”
Walz boasts Minnesota’s COVID body counts were better than Iowa’s
Walz was joined by Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart and Democratic leaders from the Iowa legislature, who are in the minority in both of the General Assembly chambers.
And as Walz became more visibly comfortable with the journalists in the room, the words and phrases “hell,” “damn,” and “my God” came flowing from the Minnesota governor’s cadence as he offered contrasts between his accomplishments during the Minnesota legislative session this year and those of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and her Republican trifecta. Walz even strayed into a tale of the tape contrasting his COVID-19 pandemic-related leadership versus that of Reynolds. He appeared set off by a question from a journalist who asked for his thoughts on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis saying he would consider asking Reynolds to be his vice presidential running mate.
“There is kind of an unwritten rule when we are dealing with things not to criticize other governors,” Walz told the journalists. “Gov. Reynolds found the need to come to Minnesota (last year) to come and criticize me (over Walz’s COVID leadership). And I’ll make note of this, if I had followed Gov. Reynolds’ policies around COVID, I’d have 5,200 more dead Minnesotans. The numbers simply speak for themselves.”
‘Hotter than hell’ summer and being a ‘good neighbor’
Walz also spent time criticizing ongoing debate in the Iowa legislature about what education standards around teaching history should look like, the recent six-week abortion ban Reynolds signed, and touting Minnesota’s legislative efforts to battle climate change.
“What I would tell Iowans, you want to debate slavery? You want to restrict peoples’ rights? You want to deny climate change? It’s hotter than hell out. This is weather? Get used to it. This is what’s coming.”
Walz left the media pool with parting thoughts on what it means to be a “good neighbor” in the Upper Midwest political scene.
“I have to tell you, a very Minnesotan trait, I would argue a very Iowan trait is ‘mind your own damned business,’” Walz said.
“We don’t need you in the exam room. We don’t need you telling us, dictating who we can love. We don’t need you rewriting history about what happened in this country around slavery.”
“So we are good neighbors,” Walz added. “But good neighbors are built around minding their own damned business.”
Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.