2020 Iowa Caucuses

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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."

elizabeth warren
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Sixteen Democrats running for president took questions about gun policies at a forum in Des Moines Saturday that was organized a few days earlier in response to recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

Hundreds of gun control activists from across the country attended the forum. Gunshot survivors and family members of victims told their stories to candidates and asked them how they would reduce gun violence.

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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”.

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On this "news buzz" edition of River to River, Donnelle Eller of the Des Moines Register offers an update on the impact of the China trade war on agriculture and farmers, Peggy Huppert of NAMI Iowa speaks about the stigma surrounding mass shootings and mental illness and IPR's Western Iowa Reporter Katie Peikes speaks about JD Scholten's announcement to run for Iowa's 4th congressional district seat.

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.

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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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South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s newest plan released Friday morning aims to expand access to healthcare in rural areas. Buttigieg is the latest in a string of Democratic presidential candidates to release policy proposals this week meant to improve rural life.

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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.

Some two dozen presidential candidates have been campaigning in Iowa since way before much of the rest of the country tuned in to the race. Many have been coming here for months, some for years. On the fifth episode of Caucus Land, we'll introduce them to you.


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Democratic presidential candidate and Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar chose a family farm in Ankeny that nearly abuts suburban housing as the backdrop for her farm and rural policy announcement Wednesday.

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River to River's "Home State View" series helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

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Presidential campaign staffers and political activists are facing off in a different kind of competition Saturday – dodgeball. While the event is a matter of Iowa caucus organizing, it’s also about friendship.

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The major parties in Iowa generally agree that the caucuses should remain first in the nation and they don't agree on much else. On the fourth episode of Caucus Land, we ask the state's party leaders how they can put aside their differences to keep Iowa first and what the 2018 midterms say about 2020.


John Pemble / IPR

River to River's "Home State View" series helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

Kate Payne/IPR

A coalition of environmental groups wants presidential candidates to treat drinking water as a top policy priority, and is asking them to build out their positions on how to ensure access to safe and affordable water for all Americans. But some politicos are skeptical the issue can compete for voters' attention at a time when much of the conversation is focusing on universal health care, the economy and climate change.

Kate Payne/IPR

Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is taking aim at fossil fuel companies in her new climate plan released Thursday. The New York senator outlined her proposal during a panel discussion at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

During the 2016 presidential election, two seemingly impossible candidates took both major parties by storm, and American politics hasn't been the same. On the third episode of Caucus Land, Iowa gives Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump a stage and a microphone.    

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