Tom Harkin, the ranking United States Senator of Iowa, and his wife Ruth visited a crowd of 75 interested supporters at the King's Pointe Lodge in Storm Lake on Sunday afternoon in order to announce that he will be seeking a 5th term.
The senator also toured the AWAYSIS project area - a development in which he is partially credited with helping to gain initial support.
Senator Harkin, a former Presidential candidate in 1992, said that the time for "change" is coming in Washington D.C., and with it, he feels, will come the kind of values that Iowans embrace.
"We have to start changing the direction that we are in," Senator Harkin said. "My fighting spirit on Iowa values is never-ending. I think that we'll seek that change and I will reach across the aisle to achieve it."
Serving the needy will be a key plank to his platform in 2008.
"It is important to care for those that are less fortunate," Sen. Harkin said. "That is the kind of change that I want to work for."
Harkin, who calls himself a "proud progressive" is cautious about the domestic policies that his colleague, John McCain of Arizona, would seek if he became the 44th President of the United States.
"Senator McCain has a two point plan," Harkin said. "McCain's health care plan is - pray that you don't get sick. We need to continue to support initiatives for programs that get us to staying healthy."
He also blasted McCain's economic plan. "Reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25% and keep the tax cuts permanent. I guess that is why he is going to rely on financial advisors."
Sen. Harkin added that under the current administration, the "economy is not for ordinary people" considering that the current economic conditions are leading to a wide state of foreclosures.
During his Storm Lake visit, he suggested that global warming, health and wellness, energy conservation programs through bio-engineering, farming and community efforts are other top priorities for the state of Iowa and the country.
Sen. Harkin serves as Chairman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee and as a member on 11 other committees ranging from Commerce, Justice and Science to Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
Sen. Harkin spoke about the importance of continuing to develop Iowa and expressed pride in his role in encouraging Vision Iowa funds to help support Project Awaysis in Storm Lake.
"This is truly a gem of northwest Iowa," Sen. Harkin remarked of the lodge and the other lakefront projects he was viewing. "And it is important to support the continued vitality of the lake. I will continue to work hard to ensure that the lake dredging project is completed."
Harkin, the only Democrat in the state of Iowa that has been re-elected as a Senator, and his wife are both attornies by profession and are looking forward to campaigning around the state.
Harkin, 68, was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam era. He and his wife graduated from Catholic University of American Law School in Washington D.C. prior to returning to the Ames area. Sen. Harkin started his legal career as an attorney with Polk County Legal Aid while his wife was elected as Story County Attorney.
After his first two years in the field of law, Sen. Harkin ousted incumbent William J. Scherle to become a junior member of the United States House of Representatives representing Iowa 5th Congressional District and served six terms before becoming a United States Senator in 1984, knocking off incumbent Roger Jepsen. Republicans have made him a repeated target in several bitter campaigns.
With Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King announcing that he will run for re-election in the House and not seek to unseat Harkin, the Democrat's current opposition is relative unknown Steve Hartje of Cedar Rapids. Harkin's warchest already tops $3 million for the campaign, while federal disclosure reports indicate that Hartje has only $58 is cash and a $20,000 debt. Harkin so far has no primary opposition.
"Regardless of who my opponent finally will be, I know they are going to do everything they can to throw the kitchen sink at me," Harkin said during his announcement tour.
He said he "has had his partisan battles before," but pledged that with the current wave toward change, he will heighten his efforts to work with Republicans on the issues.
Harkin said that he feels either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would make a better president than McCain.
Speculating on the Democratic nomination race, he predicted that the candidate with the most delegates at the time will receive the support of the super-delegates going into the National Convention in June, producing a clear winner to oppose the Republican.