Rep. Eric Swalwell Is Doing Everything He Can to Stay in the 2020 Race

Eric Swalwell appears on television a lot- enough that people in Iowa tell him that as he’s getting coffee in cafes in Dubuque.

The California congressman has been one of the most vocal members of the House Intelligence Committee about holding the president and his administration accountable in the Russia investigations.

Now, Swalwell’s trying to use that notoriety in a bid for president. But in a field of 21 Democrats, he’s learning that being a cable news darling isn’t enough. He’s currently polling at just 1% but he says he’s getting comfortable sticking out his hand to say he’s running for president.

“It’s very, I would say intimidating to say you’re running for president,” he said in a car ride between events in eastern Iowa at the beginning of the month.

“Every chance I get, I’m gonna introduce myself like I’m not starting, you know, as Vice President Biden here,” he added of his chances of making it all the way.

VICE News spent 48 hours with Swalwell in Iowa, where he’s trying to prove he can appeal to a broad demographic of Americans. He’s the son of a sheriff, but Swalwell is making gun control and reform his signature issue, even hosting one of his campaign launch events in Parkland, Florida.

At a Bellevue house party on Friday, Swalwell told a gathering of the Jackson County Democrats about his experience in Congress trying to work on the divisive issue.

“I came to Congress right after Sandy Hook happened,” he said. “I had hoped that I could be a part of a Congress that would actually do something about what had happened. Nothing.”

But as he campaigns, Swalwell is also trying to assure voters that his coastal progressive views don’t blind him to the needs of Trump voters. Swalwell says that his life experiences- born in Iowa, educated in the south, and representing a diverse district in California -gives him credibility with all voters.

“My parents they’re both Republicans. I was reaching across the dinner table before I ever had to reach across the aisle to work with the Republicans,” he told a group of about 20 people at the Uptown Cafe in Jefferson, Iowa. He joked that he goes on Fox News so that his parents will see him on TV.

When asked by Vice News why he’s running in such a crowded field, Swalwell more or less described a fading American dream as his motivation.

“I see a lot of people who work really hard just like my parents did but they don’t see it adding up to what it added up for my parents which was their son was the first in the family to go to college. Instead, they’re just running in place. They’re living paycheck to paycheck. They see a Washington and gridlock and not doing anything about it.”

Jose Ibarra, a city councilman in Storm Lake, Iowa, hosted Swalwell for a “fight night” party at his parents’ house on Saturday evening. Swalwell arrived with a case of beer and tucked into tacos and chips before making his case to a small- but more diverse group than is typical- about why they should support him for president.

Ibarra said he thinks any Democrat has a chance right now of beating Trump- and included Swalwell in that category.

“I mean we look at the Democrats right and they’re actually very educated. They know how to communicate with people. They know what’s wrong with the country,” Ibarra told VICE News in the backyard. “They know that we’re divided. Donald Trump has really done nothing for them, for the small guys. So I believe that if any Democrat can connect with the 99 percent. And make it into a point that he’s going to bring the country back together I think that anybody can beat Donald Trump.”

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The Evolution (Or Not) Of School Shootings In America Since Columbine (HBO)

When the Columbine shooting happened in 1999, the survivors had no concept of what a school shooting was. Neither did most of America.

“We thought there was some sort of unknown or undisclosed senior prank going on,” said Zach Cartaya, now 37, who survived the shooting and has since started an organization that helps survivors of mass shootings. “Something to do with fireworks in the parking lot.”

Twenty years later, school shootings have become a staple of news cycles, and active shooter drills have been put into place in schools across the country. School shootings have become a thing all students know about, and to some extent, expect to happen.

“It’s sort of just an unspoken fear that we all had growing up,” said Marisol Garrido, who survived the Parkland school shooting.

But even as shootings at schools have become more common, little has changed in terms of either policy or the public’s ability to reckon with them productively.

“I thought it would end after us,” said Garrido, now a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “I thought that it was enough to make any sort of change but it’s a year later. I don’t really see anything done. I guess school shootings will end when America wants to. They just don’t want to yet.”

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Parkland victims sue school board, sheriff

Survivors and family members of the slain victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, sue the school district, the sheriff’s office, a deputy and a school monitor, claiming their negligence allowed the massacre to happen (April 10)

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March For Our Lives: ‘Your Complacency Kills Us’

One year after March For Our Lives held a massive demonstration to protest gun violence following the Parkland, Fla. school massacre, the group made a pop-up art installation on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol with a message to lawmakers: “Your Complacency Kills Us.” (March 26)

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Renewed focus on suicide prevention in Florida

After recent suicides by two Stoneman Douglas High school students, officials and parents in Parkland are emphasizing that suicide prevention and mental health resources should be made available at school. (March 25)

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This School District In Texas May Create Its Own Police Force (HBO)

JJ Strong has been a cop at Round Rock High, near Austin, for the past four years. His job involves roaming the halls on the lookout for kids causing trouble, whether it be getting in fights, smoking weed, or just generally being up to no good. And all the while, he’s constantly thinking about what he’d do if someone burst into the school with a gun.

“That’s always in the back of your mind,” Strong told VICE News, during his rounds one day last month. “Because if you’re not prepared, if you haven’t thought of a game plan, you’re not going to know what to do.”

In the year since the shooting at Parkland’s Stoneman Douglas High, schools around the country have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep their students safe. Some have installed hi-tech equipment and bulletproof windows. Others have encouraged their teachers to carry their own firearms. But the most fundamental aspect of school safety remains the most traditional: School police.

And now, some changes are coming.

Officer Strong is what’s known as a school resource officer, or SRO, a part of a program that dates to the 1950s, which has grown rapidly over the past few years. These days, it’s getting an overhaul: The Round Rock school district is among those considering trading their SRO program in for a self-contained, in-house police department, something 248 other districts in the state have already done — 34 in the last year alone.

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An art temple to burn away Parkland’s pain

A Burning Man artist builds a temporary temple for Parkland’s shooting victims, for them “to reflect, to grieve, to leave their pain” before the structure will be set on fire.

Community mourns Parkland victims with temple

It’s called the time temple. A large wooden gazebo-type structure carved out and assembled by a team of artists, with the purpose of healing. (Feb. 14)

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New Mexico high school evacuated after shot fired

A shot was fired Thursday on the grounds of a suburban Albuquerque high school on the first anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, high school massacre, but police and school officials said no one was injured and a suspect was in custody. (Feb. 14)

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She Lost Her Daughter In Parkland. Now, She’s Fighting For School Safety. (HBO)

A year ago, Lori Alhadeff was a soccer mom with three kids in the Parkland, Florida public schools.

But on February 14, that simple life was shattered in a hail of bullets fired by a school shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high School. Lori’s daughter, Alyssa, was among the 17 who died that day.

The year after has been one of pain and healing and hope for Lori. She became the face of anguish when a CNN camera captured her grief and the clip went viral. Now she’s trying to become the face of school safety as an advocate and elected member of the Broward County School Board.

Across the country, schools are still trying to figure out how to prevent the next parkland. Bills have been passed, experts have weighed in. School boards like the one in Broward are still making changes. VICE News follows Lori as she tries to make school safety a public priority.

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