Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has surged in the polls by telling Iowa voters she has a plan for everything. Meanwhile, the Democrat running to unseat Sen. Joni Ernst in the state has yet to outline a single policy position.
Theresa Greenfield has not posted a single policy to her campaign website since launching her Senate bid in June. The Iowa businesswoman, who has attracted the backing of national party leaders, avoids policy details on the campaign trail. And while Greenfield continuously attacks Ernst's platform, she has yet to establish one of her own.
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Greenfield has acknowledged this shortcoming. At an April health care forum she confessed to voters that she was "not a policy wonk," and would only be able to offer "some insights and just some anecdotal stories." Her campaign launch video in June was largely biographical, labeling her "a proud farm kid with farm kid values." She received the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsement within days of entering the race.
The Greenfield campaign did not return requests for comment.
Greenfield's two main primary opponents, attorney Kimberly Graham and insurance executive Eddie Mauro, have released detailed policy agendas, touting the Green New Deal, criminal justice reform, and campaign finance reform among other issues on their websites. The candidates criticized the party's handling of the primary. Graham said the DSCC refused to return her calls, and Mauro slammed the "D.C. establishment" for meddling in the race.
In the months following the DSCC's endorsement, Greenfield has continued to stumble through policy discussions. At a July event, Greenfield promised to "fight to sustain Social Security and Medicare for grannies all over this state for another century." Instead of offering details on how to sustain these programs, Greenfield shifted topics, saying, "I actually love running a small business."
At the same event, Greenfield echoed many of the far-left ideas Sen. Warren champions, but avoided getting into specifics. She voiced support for "health care for all" without addressing the elimination of private insurance, and spoke on the need to "make college affordable for everyone" without discussing student loan debt forgiveness. On Friday, Greenfield refused to take a firm position on the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, telling NBC that Congress needs to "do its job in a bipartisan way to uncover the facts."
She was plagued by accusations of vagueness during her failed 2018 run for Congress.
In a January 2018 interview, for example, Greenfield struggled during an exchange about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly referred to as food stamps. Asked what could be done to "fix this program so that kids don't go hungry for 2 or 3 days while corporations just continue to lobby and cash in on this program," Greenfield focused instead on politics.
"Let's start with something that's really easy to do," Greenfield said. "Vote differently in 2018."
The host interjected to note that kids were still "going to bed hungry" when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress in 2009.
"I want to go back to this: there are kids in Iowa who aren't eating," host Jonathan Narcisse said. "There's a federal program that funds food, more than $600 million in Iowa on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program."
"$600,000?" Greenfield asked.
"$600 million," Narcisse said.
"Oh, okay," she said, before eventually admitting, "I don't know why those kids aren't getting that food."
Kimberly Graham, one of Greenfield's primary opponents, told the Washington Free Beacon that she aims to run a policy-focused campaign.
"What I know is I'm quite clear on policy and always happy to speak with voters who want to know more about a policy position," Graham wrote in an email. She declined to answer questions about Greenfield. Mauro did not return request for comment.
In addition to the DSCC, Greenfield has secured endorsements from pro-choice Democratic fundraising giant EMILY's List, former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), and multiple Democratic state legislators. The DSCC has identified Ernst as a 2020 target, executing a five-figure digital ad buy criticizing the first-term Republican in May.
A Lake Research Partners poll showed Ernst defeating both Greenfield and Mauro by more than 20 points.