2019 Soapbox

The Iowa State Fair is a lot more than grandstand shows, corn dogs and the annual husband-calling contest.  Twenty-three presidential candidates will take to the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox on the Grand Concourse to speak to whoever wants to stop by and listen.  IPR is covering all of the speeches, and you can listen to the audio here.

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The final presidential candidate to speak at the Iowa State Fair says it won’t be easy to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020.  Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton said Democrats will need a remarkably diverse coalition behind the eventual nominee.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said by delaying some tariffs in an escalating trade war with China, the Trump administration is acknowledging the pain it’s causing Americans.

“This is going to hurt in our pocketbooks at home,” Buttigieg told reporters after speaking at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair Tuesday.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said 10 percent tariffs on about $300 billion in Chinese imports will go forward, but tariffs on some goods will be delayed until Dec. 15. 

New York City mayer Bill de Blasio speaks at the Iowa State Fair.
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Democrats need to put forward a vision that voters can be passionate about in order to bring voters off of the sidelines in the 2020 presidential election. The candidate for the Democratic nomination spoke to voters at the Iowa State Fair Sunday and cautioned that taking a moderate approach against President Donald Trump could hurt turnout.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.
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Democrat Bernie Sanders laid out many of his familiar policy proposals at the Iowa State Fair Sunday. But this time he said his ideas are no longer on the political fringes, as they may have seemed to many voters when he campaigned four years-ago.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet addresses a crowd at the Iowa State Fair.
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Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet says the nation’s politics were “immobilized” by partisanship before Donald Trump was elected president. The Democratic candidate for president told voters at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair that he would bridge the divide by taking steps to rein in the influence of money in American politics.

Bennet said he would look to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, reform the redistricting system to eliminate political gerrymandering and place a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists.

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Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer of California has big plans for his first day as president.

“I will declare a state of emergency on day one,” he said, referring to the need to take on the effects of climate change. “We are faced with something that will affect the health and safety of every single American, and every single American in the future.”

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One Republican joined more than a dozen Democratic presidential candidates in speaking at the Iowa State Fair this weekend.  Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld took his 20 minutes of time at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox, and said he’s running for president because he’s troubled by Donald Trump’s presidency, and thinks Trump is a Republican in name only.

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Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper touted his executive experience at a speech at the Iowa State Fair Saturday. Hickenlooper, who also served as mayor of Denver, told an audience of fair attendees and potential Iowa caucus-goers that he has a proven list of accomplishments that other competitors in the crowded field can’t claim.

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New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says she has approached her life with the motto that nothing is impossible, a lesson taught to her by her grandmother. She is taking that into the 2020 presidential race.

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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.

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Retired Navy Admiral and former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak says there is "nothing we can do by ourselves." He is prioritizing convening the world and banding allies together, and is running to "restore leadership."

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Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says the 2020 presidential race needs a candidate from the Midwest, the heartland of the country, who can look out for rural America.

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U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio says the country needs to move beyond political discussions that focus on left vs. right, and work toward making the United States new and better.

Ryan told a crowd at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soap Box at the State Fair that, in his administration, that transformation would include the appointment of a chief manufacturing officer.  That person would help develop strategies on how the U.S. can dominate industries, like building the cars of the future.

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Democratic presidential campaigns are swarming Iowa this weekend, including stops at the Iowa State Fair. In addition to their standard stump speeches, many of the candidates are using their time in Iowa to talk about their plans to address gun control following last week’s mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

California Sen. Kamala Harris says if she’s elected president she’s prepared to take executive action to pass gun control policies if Congress doesn’t act. She made those comments at the Des Moines Register Political soapbox before a large crowd of fairgoers.

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says if climate change can’t be defeated, everything else is moot.  Inslee spoke Saturday at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, and promised to work to do just that.

“I will make defeating the climate crisis the Number One priority in the United States.  That is what we have to do to get this job done,” he said.

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Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard touted her foreign policy experience and military service during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on Friday. Speaking to potential caucus-goers and reporters, Gabbard called for an end to the country’s “wasteful wars” which she says are hamstringing federal funding for other policy priorities.

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Self-help author Marianne Williamson is addressing criticisms that she is “crazy” and unqualified to be president. Speaking to reporters and potential caucus-goers at the Iowa State Fair, the Democratic presidential candidate instead argued the critiques of her are “an intentional strategized smear."

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Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney is standing by his argument that what it takes to defeat President Donald Trump is a pragmatic approach that will unify voters across the political spectrum. Speaking to reporters and potential caucus-goers at the Iowa State Fair on Friday, Delaney said that the country needs “real solutions and not impossible promises”.

andrew yang
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Democrat Andrew Yang says his plan to give each American citizen $1,000 each month could help Iowans repeatedly affected by flooding to relocate.

Speaking at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair Friday, the entrepreneur and presidential candidate said his plan would stimulate the economy and help create new jobs as more are lost to technological advancements.

julian castro
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Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro told state fairgoers in Des Moines Friday Congress must act in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. Before his speech, Castro released a policy plan to “disarm hate” by combating white supremacist violence and enacting gun control measures.

An audience member asked the former San Antonio mayor and Obama cabinet official why he’s not in El Paso, following a mass shooting there last weekend.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden said he has what it takes to strengthen gun laws in the country following mass shootings in Texas and Ohio last weekend. Biden told reporters at the Iowa State Fair Thursday that it violates no one’s Second Amendment right to tell people they can’t own certain weapons like an assault rifle. 

"We can get it done," Biden said. "We can get it done with background checks done. We can get it done because the public is finally at the point that it’s sick of it. It is sick of it. I’ve got it done before and I can get it done again."

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A long weekend of political speeches got underway Thursday afternoon at the Iowa State Fair, as Montana Gov. Steve Bullock delivered the first speech at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox.  Candidates get 20 minutes to talk to whoever shows up to listen at a stage along the Grand Concourse.  The crowd for Bullock was pretty thick, though some attendees said they had arrived early to hear former Vice President Joe Biden, who was scheduled to speak about 20 minutes after Bullock concluded.