Politics: Steak, beer and politics: 2020 Democrats descend on Iowa - PressFrom - US
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Politics Steak, beer and politics: 2020 Democrats descend on Iowa

07:55  21 september  2019
07:55  21 september  2019 Source:   msn.com

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The Democratic presidential candidates are converging at the Iowa State Fair this week, jostling for attention as they deliver their speeches from the soapbox. They will have a chance to flip pork chops, visit the famed Butter Cow and cheer on the junior ranchers and farmers who are trying their hand at

2020 Democratic presidential candidates stand during a moment of silence in Iowa on Aug. Twenty-two candidates addressed the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding dinner, one of the many Seconds and beers cost extra. — With assistance by Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou, Emma Kinery, and Tyler Pager.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — When Barack Obama marched into the 2007 Iowa steak fry flanked by 1,000 supporters, skeptical Iowans were put on notice that he could win the caucus. A dozen years later, a new generation of Democratic White House hopefuls are looking to pull off a repeat performance to turbocharge their campaigns.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall meeting at the Indian Creek Nature Preserve, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)© Provided by The Associated Press Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall meeting at the Indian Creek Nature Preserve, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Saturday's steak fry is part parade, part organizing show of force — and quintessentially Iowa. It began as a fundraiser for Tom Harkin's first congressional bid, where the 53 attendees could buy a steak and a foil-wrapped baked potato for $2.

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Harkin is out of politics now, but the steak fry lives on as a fundraiser for the Polk County Democratic Party. This year, 11,000 people are expected to join in addition to 19 presidential candidates. Attendees can listen to bands, munch on 10,500 steaks or get food from food trucks, a vegan grill or a craft beer tent.

There are even camping grounds, where supporters of former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke spent Friday night.

The festival vibe has some Iowa activists calling the steak fry the "Coachella of the Caucuses," referring to the weekend-long music festival in California. Polk County Democratic Party Chair Sean Bagniewski said the event purposely has a "modern twist."

"That's the future of the party — it's gonna be more women in positions of leadership, it's gonna be more people of color, and it's going to be more young people," he said.

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“ Iowa has always played an important role in the process and is clearly playing an important role again this year,” said Jerry Crawford, who chaired the Iowa efforts for Mike Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry, and this time is backing Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.

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But what hasn't changed is the significance of the event for the presidential candidates. The steak fry comes as a number of candidates are reconfiguring their Iowa approach.

California Sen. Kamala Harris this week announced she would focus more heavily on Iowa in hopes of finishing in the top three. Meanwhile flagging campaigns like that of O'Rourke and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are campaigning beyond Iowa in an effort to broaden their national appeal.

Bagniewski said that, like 2007, Democrats are looking for someone who can show they've got the organizational strength to win.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a house party, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Mount Vernon, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)© Provided by The Associated Press Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a house party, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Mount Vernon, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

"Everyone wants to beat Donald Trump," he said. "Everyone has a top 5, but when you actually see that your candidate of choice has 1,000 people supporting them at the Steak Fry, it gives you more liberty to make that decision."

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Twenty-two candidates addressed the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding dinner, one of the many traditions that come with campaigning in the key state. Seconds and beers cost extra. --With assistance from Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou, Emma Kinery and Tyler Pager. To contact the reporter on this story

Over four decades, the event has seen plenty of rock-star moments.

In 2014, the final year Harkin hosted the event, Hillary Clinton returned to Iowa for the first time since Obama beat her in the 2008 caucuses. She was welcome by a jubilant crowd chanting "Hillary, Hillary," as speculation about a second presidential campaign swirled. With a cheeky smile, she stretched her arms out to the audience of thousands, saying "Well, hello Iowa. I'm back!"

This year, a number of the candidates will kick off the festivities by hosting celebrations for their supporters beforehand, featuring everything from live bands to carnival-style games.

Many are planning an Obama-esque march into the event — amping up the pressure on their teams to turn up big numbers to the event, as any flagging campaigns will be painfully obvious. Campaigns are bussing and flying supporters in from out of state to boost their numbers, and the Polk County Democratic Party says they've sold tickets to attendees from 48 states. Former Vice President Joe Biden is widely believed to have sold the most tickets to the event, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg not far behind him.

The former Vice President will host what his team is calling "Bidenfest" beforehand, featuring a bouncy castle, an ice cream truck and bands, and he'll be marching in with a fire truck and a marching band from a Waterloo-area Baptist church.

California Sen. Kamala Harris will march into the event with striking McDonald's workers demanding a $15 an hour wage, as well as the Isiserettes, a local Des Moines drumline that appeared regularly at Obama events, including the 2007 steak fry and later his inauguration.

But Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are skipping the march into the event. Warren has come under growing criticism from some of her rivals and her staff has said she's looking at the Steak Fry as more of an opportunity to connect with potential new supporters, rather than organize those she has already won.

Biden on 2020 election against Trump: ‘I could beat this guy like a drum’ .
2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden thinks he could beat President Trump "like a drum" in the upcoming presidential election. © ASSOCIATED PRESS Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden waits to speak at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) Speaking with donors at a private fundraiser on Sunday night, Biden declared that Democrats need to "literally restore the soul of this country" by defeating Trump, according to a pool report from the event.

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