Iowans' Top Concerns Get Special Attention In Debate At Drake University

Jan 15, 2020

Six Democratic presidential candidates faced off at a debate at Drake University in Des Moines Tuesday, less than three weeks ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. 

At the debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register, candidates fielded questions drawn from Iowans’ own suggestions. Climate change consistently ranks among the top concerns this cycle.

Former mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg was asked how he’d help farmers and factories that can’t move out of the way of record-breaking floods, like those seen in Iowa last year.

"If we get it right, farmers will be a huge part of the solution. We need to reach out to the very people who have sometimes been made to feel that accepting climate science would be a defeat for them, whether we're talking about farmers, or industrial workers," he said. 

During the debate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was asked why he doesn’t support the new NAFTA deal with some of Iowa’s key trading partners. 

“We need to bring the stakeholders to the table. That is the family farmers here in Iowa, and in Vermont and around the country. That is the environmental community. That is the workers. Bottom line here is I'm sick and tired of trade agreements negotiated by the CEOs of large corporations," he said. 

Candidates also faced questions on trade policy, childcare and how Medicare for All could affect insurance jobs. Less than a month from the caucuses, polling shows a majority of Iowans aren’t locked into a candidate.