All five of the Democratic presidential candidates will be on the same stage in Cedar Rapids this Friday night and then, on Saturday, 10 of the GOP presidential hopefuls will appear at a day-long event in Ames.
Brad Anderson ran President Obama’s 2012 reelection effort in Iowa and he says without the “Harkin Steak Fry” this fall, the stakes are “really big” for this weekend’s Iowa Democratic Party’s “Hall of Fame” dinner.
“I think probably at this point the stakes are highest for Martin O’Malley to really make his case,” Anderson says, “and have voters who haven’t had a chance to hear him take a second look.”
It also will be the first time Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders make an appearance at the same event in Iowa.
“The biggest issue out there is income inequality,” Anderson says. “…It will be very interesting to watch the two of them and what they say about this enormous issue…and arguably one of the most important issues Democrats are looking at in this Caucus campaign.”
Bob Vander Plaats and The Family Leader — the Christian conservative organization he leads, will convene their fourth annual “Family Leadership Summit” this weekend. Ten Republican presidential candidates plan to be there.
“It’s obviously the biggest event this summer,” Vander Plaats says. “…You’re going to see a great audience, not only by the attendees, but by the national and international media and you’re going to see a great energy in that room to not have a third term of Barack Obama.”
Recent polls show Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with a slim lead in Iowa, with six GOP competitors close behind. Vander Plaats says as Iowans see the candidates one-by-one on Saturday, they’ll be looking for a break out moment.
“Who’s the bold and courageous leader who can bring this country back to the foundations and its principles and then cast an exciting vision for the future?” Vander Plaats asks.
Vander Plaats endorsed Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012, both of whom will be at the event Saturday. Vander Plaats expects to endorse a candidate in the 2016 race sometime late this fall.
Vander Plaats and Anderson made their comments this weekend during an appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.
(Additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s Asya Akca)