Nebraska Democratic Party Chair: Rural vote should be 'bedrock' of party

Nebraska’s Democratic Party chair is warning White House hopefuls not to overlook rural communities in their pursuit of the Democratic nomination, predicting that this voting bloc will play a key role in November’s election.

“If we really care about the U.S. Senate, if we really care about climate policies at the state level — we have have to start closing the margins in rural communities,” Jane Kleeb told Hill.TV on Wednesday.

Kleeb said that the Democratic Party can’t just speak to rural communities is early nominating states like Iowa, arguing that this voting base should be the “bedrock” of what the party is “talking about all the time.”

Rural voters played a crucial role in helping President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE defeat Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to attend World Series Game 4 in Atlanta Pavlich: Democrats' weaponization of the DOJ is back Mellman: The trout in the milk MORE in the 2016 presidential election.

According to exit polls, Republicans won by nine points in rural areas, while Democrats lost by 11 points.

This has largely to do with the fact that rural voters — specifically, white rural voters — have increasingly shifted towards the Republican Party.

Democrats are now betting on a new strategy to address this shift and attract new rural voters.

The coordinated effort seeks to address the party’s rural blind spot by venturing into parts of the country that were ignored in the run-up to the 2016 election. This includes in battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Iowa among others.

The initiative is being lead by both presidential and congressional candidates alike.

J.D. Scholten, a Democratic congressional candidate in Iowa, has launched a bus tour, which aims to visit towns across the state with populations of less than 1,000 people.

Scholten told Hill.TV last week that there is a huge opportunity to win over rural voters, especially on issues like health care, noting that farmers and ranches don’t have employer health insurance.

The Iowa Democrat is currently running against Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingGOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Pence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' MORE (R-Iowa) in the state's 4th congressional district. The race marks his second bid against the nine-term incumbent after losing by just three percentage points in what is considered a heavily conservative district.

—Tess Bonn