For the first time, all five candidates who’re seeking the Democratic Party’s next presidential nomination will share the same stage — and that stage will be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the Iowa Democratic Party’s “Hall of Fame” dinner tomorrow night.
Linn County Democratic Chair Bret Nilles says most of the local Democrats he’s talked to are anxious to learn which issues the candidates will focus upon. “And then who’s going to stand out at this first opportunity for them to have a side-by-side comparison,” Nilles says.
The candidate line-up will be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, a former governor and senator from Rhode Island.
“It is a unique situation,” Nilles says. “We’ll have a chance to see them address a crowd of faithful Democrats and to see who’s kind of shining at this time.”
Nilles will be watching to see who gets the best reactions from the crowd — and he does not expect the candidates to snipe at one another. Nilles says that’s a sure way to lose support in the General Election.
“These are the people that they are going to want to have out there supporting them after the Caucuses,” Nilles says. “so I’d be surprised at this time if there’s much in terms of adversarial comments about any of their opponents.”
The Iowa Democratic Party’s “Hall of Fame” dinner is an annual fundraiser for the party. Last year’s event honored then-Senator Tom Harkin as he was ending his 40-year career in congress. O’Malley was the keynote speaker at that 2014 event and Clinton recorded a brief video message for the crowd.
On Saturday, 10 Republican candidates will speak at an event in Ames sponsored by The Family Leader, a conservative Christian organization.