Hi. Everybody! So good to see you. What a gorgeous day at the State Fair and great to see so many good friends from labor here.
I'll just hop right to it. I’m Abby Finkenauer and I'm running for Congress, because this is personal.
I grew up a daughter of a union pipe fitter/welder and my mom just retired from the Dubuque Community School District in February.
Actually when she decided to retire, I looked at her and said, “Mom, you're retiring because you just want to spend time with my nephew Jordy”—who's adorable by the way—and she said, “Well, Abby, yes Jordy is really cute but I'm retiring because I just turned 62 and I'm afraid if I don't retire right now and take my Social Security that those Republicans in the U.S. House are gonna change the age that I can retire and get my Social Security.”
And I looked at her and I said, “Mom, there are folks all across the state and all across this country in the exact same boat and that's why I'm running for Congress.”
And the rest of my family—there was actually four of us, we were all first-generation college grads still paying off student loans—and I still remember being a ten-year-old having to have my dad's business agent’s name memorized because when that showed up on caller ID that meant Dad had a job. And I remember sometimes those months when that name wasn't showing up very often and what that meant for my family.
So again, I mean not always easy but at the end of the day I grew up in a state and in a country where if you worked hard, you could make it. That's what we were promised. That's what we were told. And unfortunately right now, I mean gosh, that is just getting tougher and tougher for folks because of the policies being pushed right now by that Freedom Caucus member I'm running to replace—Rod Blum.
You see, he has spent the last four years since he got elected—which by the way we both got elected the same night in 2014—but I assure you that's where our similarities end. You know, he spent the last four years in D.C. making it harder for my friends, my family, my neighbors and the folks all across this fair.
And in contrast, I've been here in the state of Iowa fighting hard against attack after attack on our working friends, on folks that…on our wages, on our environment. I mean you name, it they've gone after it in the state of Iowa.
And I tell you what—I haven't just been a vote against those attacks. I've been a voice every single time. And I think it's time we send this voice to Washington, DC, and make sure they remember all the folks, again, across this fair and across the state that they have forgotten.
And I'll tell you, when I first decided to do this there was a lot of folks who thought, no way this girl paying off her student loans who comes from a working-class family can take on this guy for Congress.
But I knew they were wrong and I knew they were wrong within the first couple of months getting out there talking to folks. And I realized it didn't matter if I was talking to folks in rural Iowa or in some of our cities, at the end of the day 2018 was going to be about our values.
And who are we—are we people who step up for our neighbors or are we not? And the Iowa that I grew up in, we step up for each other every single time. It's exactly what has given me so much hope here the last, well, year-and-a-half.
And see, that's the other thing. I think it's about time we start talking about hope again, because I also realize we are not a state or a country that grows from fear and division. We grow from hope.
It's hope and the idea that you get up in the morning, you go to work, you work hard and you're not just able to make a living but you're able to have a life.
It's hope and the idea that your kids can get a good public education and do better than you did.
And it's hope and the idea that god forbid you get sick, you don't have to file for bankruptcy.
And it's hope and the idea if you're like my sister and brother-in-law who are corn and soybean farmers—and they're the ones with that cute little guy I talked about earlier, he's about a year and a half now—that you can work hard, pass your farm on to the next generation and not be waking up worried every morning because of a trade war that this administration decided to start on Twitter.
Hope is quite literally what's on the line here in 2018. It's what's on the ballot. It's why we do this every single day. That's why we can't give up, because at the end of the day, Iowa is my home and this is our country, and together when we work hard we can take it back and again remind all those in DC of the folks here that they have forgotten.
Thank you, everybody.