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Warren Draws Largest Crowd So Far At State Fair

John Pemble/IPR
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren attracted the largest crowd of the 2019 Iowa State Fair so far to hear his message of structural economic reforms.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew a big crowd to hear her signature message of structural economic reform at the Iowa State Fair Saturday. The attendance at Warren’s stop at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox surpassed that of the race’s frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The crowd that assembled to hear Warren’s soapbox speech is thought to be the largest for any presidential hopeful at this year’s fair thus far. The Iowa State Fair is a key campaign stop ahead of Iowa’s first in the nation primary contest, and attracts potential caucus-goers and political enthusiasts from across the country.

The audience that gathered to hear Warren’s message spilled out into the fair’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, the Grand Concourse.  

She opened her remarks with some of most recognizable themes of her campaign, calling for "big, structural change" to the country’s economic makeup that she says favors a "thinner and thinner slice at the top."

"Now when you see a government that works great for the rich, works great for those with money, works great for those with connections, and isn’t working for much of anyone else, that is corruption pure and simple and we need to call it out for what it is," Warren said to a cheering crowd.

Many in the audience echoed back Warren’s statements. When she spoke of her proposed 2 percent wealth tax on ultra-rich individuals, a chorus of "two cents" broke out in the crowd.

"So all we’re saying, is if you make it really big, the top one tenth of 1 percent, fortunes above $50 million, you make it that big? Pitch in two cents so everybody else in this country gets to make it," Warren cried as the crowd broke out in to cheers.

"Two cents. Two cents! Two cents!" chanted supporters in the crowd.

"You bet! Two cents!" Warren replied.

Beyond her economic agenda, Warren faced questions from reporters about her approach to proposed gun control legislation in the wake of the country’s most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Warren pointed to a gun industry she described as "corrupt," with a far-reaching influence that she says hamstrings some members of Congress.

"It’s a failure of democracy," Warren said, promising to rollback a procedural measure in the Senate that requires 60 votes to pass bills. "The filibuster is there to help the likes of the NRA and the gun industry, I’m ready to get rid of it."

After her comments at the soapbox, Warren continued to be surrounded by a crowd of supporters that numbered in the hundreds. They called out her name, pressing her for autographs and selfies, and enveloping her as she attempted to make her way back through the fair’s Varied Industries Building and Grand Concourse.

Candidates leaving the soapbox stage and hitting the fair’s signature attractions consistently draw dozens of reporters and some supporters, but the scale of the reaction from fair attendees and potential caucus-goers for Warren is something that no other presidential hopeful so far this past week has been able to match.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter