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Democratic Candidates Try To Make Their Case At Cedar Rapids Event

John Pemble / IPR
Sen. Kamala Harris of Califorina was among 19 presidential candidates speaking at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame event in Cedar Rapids Sunday.

Nineteen of the Democratic presidential candidates gave speeches at one event in Cedar Rapids Sunday.  The candidates mostly took to bashing President Donald Trump, but there were subtle jabs at the front-runner.

The candidates just got five minutes each to speak. The most notable absence from the lineup was Joe Biden, the current frontrunner in the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN Iowa Poll published over the weekend. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York made a swipe at the former vice president regarding abortion.

Biden recently reversed his opinion and now supports repealing the Hyde amendment. That bans most uses of federal funds to pay for abortions.

“I don’t think there is room in our party for a Democratic candidate who does not support women’s full reproductive freedom,” she said.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made a case against being a moderate candidate.

“It is a failed political strategy that I feel could end up with the reelection of Donald Trump,” he said.

California Sen. Kamala Harris told the crowd her experience as a prosecutor distinguishes her among the crowded field in taking on President Trump.

“I’m here to ask for your support because I’m prepared to make the case for America and to prosecute the case against Donald Trump,” she said. “Thank you, Iowa.”

Over the weekend, the Iowa Poll showed Harris trailing behind Biden, South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

When it was Warren’s turn to take the stage, she talked about how she’s taken thousands of selfies and campaigned in 20 states.

“Because I’m not spending my time with high-dollar donors and with corporate lobbyists. I’m spending my time with you,” she said.

IPR’s Kate Payne was at the event, and told Grant Gerlock Monday on Morning Edition that many voters she spoke to said there were a lot of compelling candidates across the field.  Some said the speeches solidified their feelings about a small number of candidates, while other likely caucus goers said the left the event with more candidates on their “short list.”

Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.