Nineteen Democratic presidential candidates delivered rapid-fire sales pitches to Iowa party leaders on Sunday, touting their ability to energize voters, win the White House and deliver on longtime party goals such as universal healthcare, Reuters informs.
At the biggest gathering so far of 2020 presidential candidates, the Democrats had five minutes each to sum up their case for the presidency. Most agreed on the problems, including finding a solution to climate change, improving public education and easing pay and wealth inequality.
They all agreed on the solution: Defeating Republican President Donald Trump.
“Now is not the time to be polite. Now is not the time for small steps. Now it’s time to fight like hell,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand told the 1,400 Iowa state party leaders and activists who jammed a hotel ballroom for the state party’s Hall of Fame dinner.
The dinner in Iowa, the state that holds the first nominating contest in the Democratic presidential race in February, came one day after the Des Moines Register published a new Iowa opinion poll showing former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden leading the pack in the state.
Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, along with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, were bunched closely in a fight for second place in the poll.
Sanders and Buttigieg took what seemed to be veiled swipes at Biden, the Democratic front-runner who skipped the dinner because of a scheduling conflict, Reuters writes.
“I understand there are some well-intentioned Democrats and candidates who believe the best way forward is a middle-ground strategy that antagonizes no one, that stands up to nobody and that changes nothing,” Sanders said. “In my view, that approach is not just bad public policy, but it is a failed political strategy that I fear would end up with the re-election of Donald Trump.”
Buttigieg ridiculed the idea that Democrats could return to the 1990s. “We’re not going to win by playing it safe or promising a return to normal. We are where we are because normal broke,” he said.
Iowa party leaders said the dinner would be an opportunity for lesser-known candidates to make their case, and several of those Democrats warned the party against leaning too far to the left, reflecting the lingering tensions between the party’s progressive and more pragmatic, moderate wings.