Nineteen presidents-in-waiting will get five minutes apiece to address Iowa Democrats from a single stage on Sunday, seizing the chance to stand out from a pack of two dozen who want their party’s nomination.
The front-runner is marching to his own cadence, however: Former Vice President
Sunday’s event, what political insiders describe as a ‘cattle call,’ is the first official one of its kind in the 2020 campaign season.
The high-profile audition comes as Democratic White House hopefuls are jockeying for position on abortion rights, economic inequality, health care, gun control and foreign policy, and hoping to catch a gust of populist wind in their sails.
The street outside the Cedar Rapids Convention Center looked more like a cheerleading competition than political ground zero on Sunday morning, with rival groups of volunteers chanting their heroes’ names at passing cars and rubbernecking TV cameras.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s supporters blasted ‘Born to Run,’ a high-octane American anthem from the Garden State’s favorite son Bruce Springsteen.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s team countered with an ear-splitting playlist from the late Twin Cities star Prince.
And in the summer heat, California Sen. Kamala Harris backers banged on drums and tambourines while they chanted her first name in a swelling staccato.
Biden spent Sunday outside the Hawkeye State but will make four campaign stops on Tuesday, hours before President Donald Trump speaks at a nighttime fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa.
All the candidates from the first tier that emerged in poll results released Saturday were on the program, and many who appear to have a slim chance of catching fire.
Booker said the Democratic Party ‘doesn’t need a savior – we need each other.’
‘This is a moral moment in America and we must meet this test,’ he said. ‘I’m running for president because we can’t take four more years of Donald Trump.’
‘I’m running for President to beat Donald Trump and I’m running for President because beating Donald Trump is not enough. We must have bigger aspirations and bolder dreams than just that,’ he boomed in his five-minute soliloquy.
‘Beating Donald Trump is the floor. It is not the ceiling. Beating him will get us out of the valley, but it will not get us to the mountaintop.’
Booker’s supporters waved signs trimmed with Christmas tree lights, pre-set on their tables, as they shouted ‘Cory! Cory! Cory!’
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s fans got cookies iced with her tag line: ‘Persist.’ Klobuchar’s backers found copies of her campaign-year book at their places.