All posts by Enrica Nicoli Aldini

The forgotten Democrat, O’Malley inspires young loyalty

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

IOWA CITY, Iowa – With Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders neck and neck in the Iowa polls, not much is being said or heard about the third Democratic candidate, Martin O’Malley. The Des Moines Register’s final poll Saturday night put his support as a meager 3 percent. Worse, 41 percent of caucus goers said they don’t even know enough to have an opinion.

O’Malley’s nomination seems the longest of long shots, but that did not stop two University of Iowa students from spending Friday afternoon walking 12 miles in sub-freezing temperatures, knocking on door after door in Iowa City.

“I think we’ll be surprised the night of the caucuses,” said Mitchell Dunn, chair of the Hawkeyes for O’Malley at the university, where he is a freshman. “The pollsters often don’t get to see the momentum for some candidates. We have a great group of supporters, and I think we’ll see a surprise on Monday.”

Continue reading

Bill and Chelsea get out for Hillary in Cedar Rapids

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The Clinton family made a fashionably late appearance Saturday night at Washington High School, in the state’s second-largest city. A mere hour after the Des Moines Register gave Hillary Clinton a slight lead over Bernie Sanders in the polls and 45 minutes after the scheduled time, she held one of her three rallies for the day here.

But this rally was different, as the former secretary of state enjoyed the introduction on stage of husband and former President Bill Clinton and not-so-visibly pregnant daughter Chelsea.

“The main reason I’m proud to support my mom is because these are the first elections I get to vote as a mother,” said Chelsea, a mother since September 2014 who is expecting her second child in the summer. Continue reading

Amid aspirations and inspirations, young Iowa Democrats gear up for the caucuses

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

IOWA CITY, Iowa – When Hillary Clinton visited Grinnell College in  November, sophomore Anna Schierenbeck told her that when she was just eight years old, her dad suffered a stroke. It left him disabled. The family has been caring for him since.

Not even a month later, Clinton announced a plan to give tax credit to those caring for aging or disabled family members. “I thought, ‘Wow!’,” said Schierenbeck, amazed at what seemed more than just a coincidence. This is one of the anecdotes she used to describe how inspiring it has been for her to meet presidential candidates on her college campus this caucus season.

Continue reading

Iowa moms caucus for gun sense

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Lunch break at Hamburg Inn, an iconic Iowa City diner that’s an obligatory stop for many presidential hopefuls campaigning out here.

We noticed the four women at the table beside ours were sporting t-shirt and pins saying “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.” The smell of good quotes almost covered the fragrance of the award-winning burgers that were being served up hot and ready.

“Gun sense is what we’re caucusing for, and that’s why we’re pushing the moms to get out and show up on Monday,” said Rebecca Truszkowski, local chapter leader for Moms Demand Action.

Continue reading

Racing to catch Clinton, Sanders calls for “political revolution”

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

DAVENPORT, Iowa – Bernie Sanders is tailgating Hillary Clinton in Iowa. With only four points separating the Democratic frontrunners,  the Vermont senator is working to overtake the former secretary of state in the final days before the Iowa caucuses.

Tapping into his ambitions for a political revolution in America, he is casting himself as the non-establishment Democratic candidate who would redistribute the country’s income to benefit the middle and working classes, reform the criminal justice system and reduce the cost of education and health care.

“When we talk about the anger that’s going on in America, it is the fact that ordinary people today are working longer hours for low wages and yet they’ve been seeing that most of the new income and wealth go to the top one percent,” he told a crowd that filled the  Danceland Ballroom on Friday in Davenport, Iowa’s third-largest city. “And whether the establishment likes it or not, we are saying enough is enough, that’s going to change.”

Continue reading

Politicians and donors support women’s rights at Planned Parenthood fundraiser

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

It’s been a rough year for Planned Parenthood. Not only have Republicans in Congress repeatedly tried to pass bills to suspend federal funding to the reproductive health services organization, but a Planned Parenthood clinic was also the object of a gunman attack in Colorado Springs, Colo. last November.

However, the mood was far from somber among the reproductive rights advocates who filled the dining rooms at City Winery on the Near West Side Thursday night. An estimated 600 donors, supporters and elected officials came together to raise funds for Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, the health organization’s political arm in the state, and celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Continue reading

Abortion advocates react to bill to defund Planned Parenthood, express concerns for future

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

Advocates for women’s reproductive freedom welcomed President Barack Obama’s veto last week on a House of Representatives bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and suspend federal funding to Planned Parenthood. But the veto is hardly enough to provide a respite in the fight for women’s reproductive rights, according to some abortion activists in Illinois.

Continue reading

Demonstrators take over Loop to march for women’s reproductive rights

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

Frigid temperatures Sunday caused an expanding crowd of pro-choice marchers to bundle up more than usual on an otherwise clear afternoon at Federal Plaza. Abortion activists with Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation, a local group also called FURIE, braved below-zero wind chills to march through the Loop, and protest the Chicago chapter of pro-life advocates, who gathered just on the opposite side of the street for the March for Life.

“The majority of Americans are pro-choice,” Mallory Harwardt, FURIE organizer, told the crowd as it assembled in front of the Federal Courthouse before the march. “It’s time we stopped acting like we are the silent majority.”

Continue reading

A chance for a change for Cook County Jail women

By Enrica Nicoli-Aldini

Several colored posters decorate the walls of Division 17 at Cook County Jail, motivating its women residents with words of encouragement such as “Together we can make it.” Light blue walls lead the way up to the Pink Salon, a beauty shop where women can work or get their hair and nails done. A clinic and dispensary occupies the end of one tier’s corridor, near multipurpose rooms filled with brown chairs arranged in circles, for group meetings, therapy sessions and church services.

“The building looks more like a school, not a prison,” said Division 17 resident Margot Zyskind. “This is colorful, and it’s been a lot more pleasant than I expected.”

Continue reading