Yang Keeps Things Interesting at Van Meter Town Hall
VAN METER, Iowa — Fifty Iowans braved the temperatures Sunday night to meet entrepreneur and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang at a town hall in Van Meter.
Many of the cars in the parking lot of the American Legion Hall in the small Dallas County town sported “Yang Gang” bumper stickers.
I arrived thirty minutes before the event was supposed to start and found a seat near the back of the room. At one point, a campaign staffer asked me to move forward so they could eliminate the row of chairs I had been sitting in. Campaign staffers showcased a variety of Yang beanies and his signature “Math” hats.
The crowd was small but energetic. A grey-haired woman sitting in front me, who said she was planning to caucus for Pete Buttigieg, joked that she was the only with grey hair. That wasn’t entirely true, but the crowd was mostly comprised of younger caucus-goers.
After a few brief words from his campaign staff, Yang entered from a back door and completed a full lap around the room, giving high fives to everyone sitting in an aisle seat, before taking the stage.
Yang centered his remarks on his signature campaign proposal, known as “Freedom Dividends,” which would give every American over the age of 18 a thousand dollars a month to spend as they wish.
He also argued that automation poses the greatest threat to our economy. When a factory in a small town closes, he argued, so do the local stores, people move away, schools shrink and communities suffer. Yang said his universal basic income plan would help reverse this trend.
Things got personal for Yang when a woman asked about sexual assault in the military. The woman who asked the question said she was a survivor of sexual assault and asked if Yang would support a bill to make it easier for victims in the military to report sexual assault. Last week, Yang’s wife, Evelyn, said she was sexually assaulted by her gynecologist while she was pregnant in 2012.
A 12-year-old boy named Aaron, sporting a Yang hat and several buttons and stickers, asked Yang for specifics on his gun control proposals. Yang said he favored “common sense” safety measures. He also said he would favor voluntary buybacks for people who wanted to sell their guns.
Another question came from a middle-aged man with a thick Irish accent, who asked what Yang’s pitch would to be to voters who were pro-life but liked his ideas. Although he said he supported abortion rights, Yang said his universal basic income policy would create economic conditions that he said would encourage people to start families. Yang also pledged to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, address climate change and fight the opioid crisis during the hour-long event, though he offered few specifics on plans to do so.