- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa — Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg won the crowd over here at the Iowa Democratic Party’s fabled fall dinner — all while outlining competing visions for the best way forward for the party and the nation.

Mr. Buttigieg, who has been rising in the polls, told the massive crowd the time has come to end the political warfare that has come to define Washington and to unite the country behind the “real action” that voters crave.

“I will not waiver from my commitment to our values or back down from the boldness of our ideas, but I will also not tire of the effort to include everyone in this future we are trying to build — progressive, moderate and Republicans of conscience — who are ready for change,” he said.

“We will fight when we must, but I will never allow us to get so wrapped up in the fight that we start to think fighting is the point,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “The point is what is on the other side of the fight, and what is on the other side of that fight is the hope of an American experience defined not by exclusion, but by belonging.”

Ms. Warren, meanwhile, said that Democrats will lose in 2020 if they do not fight for the kinds of “big ideas” and transformational change that she is fighting for on the campaign trail.

“This is a time of crisis, and media pundits, Washington insiders even some people in our own party don’t want to admit it, they think running a vague campaign that nibbles around the edges is somehow safe. But if the most we can promise is business as usual after Donald Trump then Democrats will lose.”

“I am not running some consultant-driven campaign with some vague ideas that are designed not to offend anyone,” she said. “I am running a campaign based on a lifetime of fighting for working families. I am running a campaign from the heart.”

The Iowa Democratic Party & Justice Dinner attracted 13 candidates to the Wells Fargo Center, where they had the chance to deliver their message to 13,000 party leaders, donors and activists who will play a large role in deciding their fate.

It also is a chance for the candidates to show their organizational strength.

The gathering has served as a launching pad for presidential candidates, including then-Sen. Barack Obama, whose 2007 speech at the event — then called the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner — was widely viewed as a critical moment in his eventual victory over Hillary Clinton.

The Real Clear Politics average of Iowa polls shows Ms. Warren, 22%, is leading the pack, followed by Mr. Buttigieg, 17%. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont are locked in a tight battle for the third spot.

Fading in the polls, Mr. Biden said the next president is going to inherit a divided nation a world in chaos, and that he has the experience needed to unite the country on his first day in office.

“Let me tell you, if you can’t bring the country together we are in real, real, trouble,” Mr. Biden said. “There is going to be no time for on the job training.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also showed strength, winning a warm welcome from the crowd.

“What unites us as a party is so much bigger than what divides us,” the Minnesota Democrat said. “We have to bring in our fired-up Democratic base, but also independents and a few moderate Republicans.”

Less than 100 days out from the caucuses, the event also served as one of the last best chances for some of the lower-tier candidates to boost their flagging campaigns.

The sense that time is running out for candidates to make a splash was driven home Friday when Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas pulled the plug on his once mega-hyped bid, making him the latest casualty in the race.

Braving the rain and cold before the event, volunteers and activists lined the streets around the convention center bellowing out chants and campaign slogans of their favored picks.

Mr. Buttigieg held a rally with musician Ben Harper that attracted an estimated 2,300 people, according to the Des Moines police department. Mr. Sanders led a rally to “End Corporate Greed,” and Mr. Biden rallied with Harold Allen Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters.

Mr. O’Rourke’s supporters also hit the streets bright and early Friday — only to have their hopes dashed hours later.

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