Five of the Democrats who’re running for president were in Cedar Rapids Saturday evening to attend a banquet that attracted about a thousand party activists.

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, the first to speak, made a direct appeal to the Democrats in the room, nearly all of whom will be an Iowa Caucus-goer. "You give people like me a chance…to be heard," Dodd said. "…You have a habit of proving the pundits wrong."

New York Senator Hillary Clinton sought to slay for good the rumor that she might skip competing in Iowa’s Caucuses. "I plan to spend so much time in Iowa I’ll be able to caucus for myself before it’s over," Clinton said.

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards was ushered into the venue by the drum line from Dubuque Senior High and Edwards, like all the candidates, kept up the Democrats’ drumbeat on the war in Iraq. "Now is not the time for careful. It is not the time for cautious. It is not the time for political calculation. It is the time for strength. It is the time for backbone…and the place that that begins is on the war in Iraq," Edwards said.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson continued in that vein. "There is no validity to this war especially at a time when the American people are saying: ‘No,’" Richardson said.

Delaware Senator Joe Biden was the last to speak and he provided the biggest laugh of the night. "I want John Edwards to know I wish my hair was worth $400," Biden said, and the crowd started laughing. "I’ll tell you what, I wish it was worth it. Now if I get more hair in there, I’d spend it, but I’ll tell you what I hope some day I can afford it, too."


AUDIO: O.Kay Henderson report. :66 MP3