Democratic candidates take center stage

Democratic candidates take center stage

DES MOINES — The Iowa State Fair is famous for a lot of things: fried food, a cow sculpted in butter, lots of food on a stick and, of course, visits from politicians.

The Des Moines Register Iowa State Fair Soapbox kicks off Thursday and will host more than 20 candidates running for president. 

Follow full coverage from the Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network, at

Here are some highlights from the first day.

Steve Bullock

The Montana governor made his pitch to Iowa voters by saying that “we expect more from our pre-schoolers” than President Donald Trump.

Throughout his 20-minutes on the stage, he made the case that this election isn’t just about swaying people to vote against Trump, but giving people a reason to vote for Democrats.

“I want to earn your support,” Bullock said, noting that his polling numbers put him far behind many of his Democratic colleagues in the state. “We are 178 days from you all take a big field and throwing it in Harry Potter’s sorting hat and narrowing it down.”

Bullock highlighted his healthcare policy, which allows a public option, and some of the issues that have been affecting farmers in the state: the ongoing trade war and agricultural policies that help battle against climate change. 

“Yeah this election is about Donald Trump,” he said, “but it’s also about making sure what we hand out to that next generation is better than what we had.”

Joe Biden 

The former vice president honed in on some of the most central aspects of his campaign while on the stage: his experience in the White House and uniting the country again. 

“It’s time to remember who is God’s name we are. This is the United States of America,” Biden told the crowd, who roared to life with applause. “There’s nothing we’ve ever decided to do, we’ve been unable to do. Period.”

He boasted his experience on the world stage, saying he’d worked with other world leaders and that his first move as president would be to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, the agreement with nations across the globe to combat climate change.

“Everybody knows who Donald Trump is, he and his supporters know who he is,” Biden said. “We got to let them know who we are.”

The Soapbox continues Friday at 10 a.m. ET.

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