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“Think About What People Are Talking About at the Kitchen Table”: Rosen Offers Advice in Advance of the AFSCME Forum

Hot on the heels of the second round of debates in Detroit, and just hours before most of the Democratic presidential candidates return to Las Vegas for the AFSCME Public Service Forum, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D) spoke with reporters about what she got out of the CNN Debates, and about what she wants to hear from the candidates here in Nevada this weekend.

Ultimately, Rosen wants to hear more of this: “We need to make the Amercian Dream, once again, attainable for more working Americans.”

The view from the Silver State
Photo by Andrew Davey

After another two nights of back-to-back debates, a few things have become clear to us. One, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is not just a great debater, not just a great communicator, but also great at dispelling the “fairy tale” and “wishlist” attacks her opponents hurl her way. Two, while former Vice President Joe Biden can learn from past mistakes, it’s still hard for him to admit he makes mistakes. And three, candidates like Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) are pushing hard to make their point and get their message across, but it’s still an open question as to how many of us are actually listening.

So how did Senator Rosen view these last two nights? According to Rosen, “We have a slate of impressive candidates, and they are all elevating the debate and shining a light on important issues.” So basically, she’s keeping it close to the vest and staying diplomatic with all the candidates.

During a press call with the Nevada State Democratic Party, Rosen offered some advice on how the candidates can reach more of our voters in advance of our February 22, 2020, Caucus. And just like fellow Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) did during a similar call in advance of the first debate in June, Rosen wasted no time in talking up the importance of the Silver State and our voters on the national political stage.

“I want them to pull that together, be pragmatic, be a problem solver, think about what people are talking about at the kitchen table.” 
– Senator Jacky Rosen
Photo by Andrew Davey

Like the SEIU/CAP Forum in April, the AFSCME Public Service Forum this Saturday will feature union members (this time, all public sector workers) asking the candidates questions on the state of the nation’s economy and its workers alongside questions from The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston and HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel. Ralston has already signaled how he’d like to interrogate the candidates, so I was wondering what Rosen would like to ask them if given the chance.

Here’s what she told us: “Talk a little bit about how their platform would address the sabotage happening in the Senate,” or in other words address how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is gladly playing the role of “grim reaper” in blocking votes on everything from a $15 per hour national minimum wage to bipartisan election security legislation, a legislative blockade that Elizabeth Warren and Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) want to solve by ending the Senate filibuster as it’s currently structured. She also wants to know “how they’d end the ‘culture of cruelty’” that in recent years has repealed and replaced the more congenial atmosphere of Congress that Joe Biden has often reminisced about on the campaign trail (sometimes to his own detriment).

Photo by Andrew Davey

And when asked to weigh in on the growing argument over whether the Democratic Party should embrace a more idealistic progressive agenda of “political revolution” and “dreaming big” or an agenda more finely tuned to win over nonpartisan/independent voters and perhaps some Republican crossover voters, Rosen responded, “I want them to pull that together, be pragmatic, be a problem solver, think about what people are talking about at the kitchen table.”

While that seems to place her closer to the centrists, she added, “We are at a critical juncture for our country and who want to be, how we will be proud of ourselves as Americans,” which backs up the case nearly all the Democrats are making against Trump’s white nationalist friendly campaign. Rosen added that she and other Nevada Democrats want these candidates to offer a more cogent alternative to the “reckless behavior” of the Trump administration.

“We need to make the Amercian Dream, once again, attainable for more working Americans.” 
– Senator Jacky Rosen
Photo by Andrew Davey

Speaking on the importance of the AFSCME Forum this Saturday, Rosen noted, “I’m the granddaughter of a member of the bakers’ and confectioners’ union. Her union job gave her a job with a good pension. She got the chance to retire in Nevada with dignity.”

On this note, she welcomed the union members coming to Nevada this weekend and added, “We are the only early state with a significant union presence. Our voices count, and this forum provides an opportunity [for the candidates to talk about economic justice].”

After Rosen noted how Nevada’s workforce is nearly 14% union and how Nevada’s electorate is more diverse than Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s, she reiterated, “The issues Nevadans care about are the issues Americans care about.” And while naming some of these issues, like health care and wage stagnation, she gave perhaps the most valuable tip in presenting platforms and policy prescriptions in a reasonable and inspirational way: “We need to make the Amercian Dream, once again, attainable for more working Americans.”

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