Primary season for Democrats is now in full swing. Most of the candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination are in Iowa this weekend, attending the annual state fair and pitching themselves to important party donors.

Taking a brief hiatus from attacking one another on the debate stage and in TV interviews, they each took a turn speaking, on Friday evening, Aug. 9, at Iowa’s Wing Ding dinner, an important fundraising and campaigning event in Clear Lake, Iowa, in advance of the Iowa caucus.

Leading candidates in attendance include former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and author Marianne Williamson.

Two themes stood out in the nearly four hours of speeches: one was taking action to restrict the sale of automatic weapons, and the other was finding a way to beat President Trump in the next election.

Biden characterized President Trump as an “existential threat,” saying, ”The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very own sense of who we are is at stake.”

Sanders called out Wall Street, drug companies, and the NRA as ills that plague society. He also called for an end to Islamaphobia and white nationalism.

Warren received a warm reception when she proposed a tax of 2% on “America’s wealthiest people.” She stayed on message to say, “Everyone who comes in the door needs to be covered by health care, and that’s one of the reasons I support ‘Medicare for All.’”

Harris accused President Trump of “trying to divide us” and accused the president of having a fragile ego that has affected his stance on trade with China.

Yang repeated his proposal to give every American $1,000 per month to spend in their local areas, explaining that it would help rural communities.

Inslee tried to make his point quickly. “If you put me on the debate stage with Donald Trump, I will beat him like a two-dollar mule,” he said.

Soapbox Speeches

Saturday’s speeches on the fairgrounds have featured candidates literally standing on a soapbox to address fairgoers.

Booker, who has received mixed results in polling thus far, received a rousing welcome as he called out his vision for America’s future: “It is time for us to stand up with faith in our country, faith in our ideals, faith in each other and come together again. Stand together, and work together, and love together, and overcome his darkness with our light!” (Ostensibly, Booker is alluding to President Trump as a purveyor of darkness.)

“This is the call of our country. It is time for the United States of America to rise again!” Booker exclaimed to a wave of applause.