Julian Castro, Andrew Yang take 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 Political Soapbox kicked off at the fair on Thursday and will host more than 20 candidates running for president throughout the weekend.
Follow full coverage from the Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network, at DesMoinesRegister.com/Soapbox.
The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama pitched his vision for the country by highlighting his family’s story of the American dream, starting with his grandmother moving to Texas from Mexico as an orphan in the 1920s.
He emphasized the need to increase the minimum wage, to combat climate change, expand Medicare coverage and reform immigration laws.
“All of this is possible, but before that, we need new leadership,” he told Iowa voters.
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After his speech, Castro was asked by someone in the audience why he was not in El Paso like Beto O’Rouke, a fellow Texan who is also running for president.
More: ‘El Paso will not be quiet’: Trump, Beto O’Rourke clash before presidential visit to El Paso
Castro said “we thought about that” but “we didn’t want to go there just to go there.” Castro noted, unlike O’Rourke, he is not from the community.
“I don’t think what they need is more presidential candidates,” he said. Castro said what those in El Paso need is the Senate to come back to work and pass gun-control measures to prevent another massacre.
The entrepreneur offered a technological path forward to improving America, highlighting his trademark policy that would offer each citizen $1,000 a month.
He called for an “industrial revolution” and highlighted the technological advances in Iowa that are bringing the country forward with new sources of energy, including solar and wind energy.
“This is the ideal, the optimal place to create a wave and bring it crashing down on D.C.’s head. You do not need that many Iowans to start a revolution,” he said, saying he did the math and each Iowan is worth 1,000 Californians.
More: 2020 candidate Andrew Yang wants to give an Iowan $12,000 over the next year to demonstrate the value of his policy plans
Yang said he would turn Tax Day into a holiday featuring celebrities and parties, explaining the IRS knows the basic income of each American and should auto-fill forms so taxes are seamless.
“I would turn tax day into revenue day. I would make it a national holiday,” he said. ‘
The former Maryland representative offered his “pragmatic” path to improving America, hitting other Democratic candidates on the big ideas he says they promote without a path to fulfilling or paying for them.
“I have big ideas but they’re ideas that can actually get done,” he said, echoing the argument he offered at the last Democratic debate against 2020 rivals Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
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Delaney offered two big reasons why Iowans should vote for him throughout his 20 minutes on stage: He’s the person who can beat Trump and he’s the person who can unite the country and remind Americans that “we’re all in this together.”
“It’s not about me, it’s about you,” he said.
The author and activist offered her solutions to the issues in America through her trademark lense of love and understanding.
Williamson told the crowd that politics at this moment is not “aligned with the deep goodness” in the nation, saying her fight is not against any specific person or corruption but the current system in place.
“I am not prosecuting a case against Donald Trump, I am prosecuting a case against the system that produced him,” she said.
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She told the crowd that “we can’t just fight hate, you have to cultivate love” and said it’s not just about changing policies, but behaviors.
“I’ve heard that I’m dangerous. I’ve heard that I’m crazy. I’ve heard that I’m a drifter. Please know that there are powerful forces that don’t want me to be in the third debate,” she told Iowans. “I’m running for president because it’s time for this generation of Americans to slam it and kick ass.”
The Hawaii Representative touted her service in the military and her belief of “country before self,” telling Iowa voters that the central issue that could solve many of America’s problems is foreign policy and the cost of war.
“Every time they tell you, ‘Sorry, there’s just not enough money,’ the reality is, these same politicians are signing off on and approving spending trillions of our taxpayer dollars on paying for these wasteful, counterproductive wars,” Gabbard said.
She offered a future where Americans could come together, because “when we work together, there is no obstacle we can’t overcome.”
“Imagine how much we could do,” she said, “if leaders in Washington took off their political hats and just said ‘hey, let’s sit around the table and work it out.'”
The Montana governor made his pitch to Iowa voters by saying “we expect more from our preschoolers” 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 taking 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 to fight 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.”
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 in 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.”
After the speech: Joe Biden in tense confrontation with Breitbart writer over Trump’s comments on white supremacy
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.”