Delaney in Sheldon

Democratic hopeful John Delaney speaks to a crowd at Old 60 Steaks & Chops in Sheldon on Sunday, Jan. 5.

SHELDON—John Delaney wants to be the best U.S. president rural America has ever seen.

The former Democratic congressman from Maryland and presidential hopeful expressed that sentiment to about 18 people who joined him for dinner on Sunday, Jan. 5, at Old 60 Steaks & Chops in Sheldon.

“Unless we get the economy working for all parts of this country, we are never going to have a stable democracy,” Delaney said.

“We will not have a stable democracy if all the jobs in this country are being created in five or 10 cities and that is exactly what is happening.”

So why does a guy who grew up in New Jersey, boasts an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York and a juris doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., and has spent his life on the East Coast care about rural areas?

In an interview after the event, Delaney credited his passion for rural areas to his wife, April, who joined him in Sheldon on Sunday.

“I’m a problem solver and when I see a problem I want to solve it. A big problem right now is economic opportunity in rural America,” Delaney said.

“My wife, April, she’s from a town like this; she’s from Buhl, Idaho, her dad was a potato farmer so we’ve got farming roots and agricultural roots in our family.”

To hammer home the point, Delaney and his team spent the weekend of Jan. 3-5 campaigning in some of the state’s most sparsely populated communities. This included Doon, Gaza, Lebanon and Matlock in N’West Iowa, which have a collective population of less than a 800 people.

Brent Roske, Iowa state director for the Delaney campaign, said most people had the same reaction of disbelief when they showed up.

Delaney, who has taken part in more than 500 events in Iowa and visited all 99 counties since 2018, said he loved the experience.

“Rural America is in a crisis and I think no one is talking about it and I think it’s incredibly valuable for me to be spending time in these communities and making it clear to them that I’m going to fight for them — I’m absolutely going to fight for them — and I’m going to make sure their issues at the forefront,” Delaney said.

Another talking point of Delaney’s during his more than two-hour stop in Sheldon was his proposal for universal health care, which he said differs from similarly titled plans offered by rival candidates.

“We’ve got a lot of Americans who are not covered, but they still get health care in a very inefficient manner and what I mean by that is we actually have a form of universal health-care system in this country; it’s called the emergency room,” Delaney said.

“Anyone, by law, who walks into an emergency room has to get taken care of. So there’s a lot of Americans — call it 20 million of them — who basically view the emergency room as their primary care provider. The problem is an emergency room visit costs 15 times what a doctor visit costs, so we have the dumbest form of universal health care.”

Under his plan, all Americans would be automatically enrolled in public health-care plan with the option to opt out if they want to keep their private, employer-provided insurance or find their own plan.

Delaney’s plan also would keep some of the reforms created by the Affordable Care Act, such as guaranteed coverage of preexisting conditions, while also keeping traditional Medicare and absorbing Medicaid into that program.

Additionally, Delaney also would put more money into research for curing diseases, specifically mentioning Alzheimer’s, cancer and dementia.

“What I’m calling for is the biggest increase in basic research in this country since the creation of NASA,” Delaney said.

“We deal with these important, incredible breakthroughs in life sciences and then we create universal health care.”