LONG BEACH, Calif. (CN) – A host of 2020 presidential candidates promised California Democratic Convention attendees Saturday they would back progressive reforms, including citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a ban on assault weapons and a single-payer health care option.
With about three months to go before the Iowa caucuses, 2020 hopefuls gathered in Long Beach to garner support from over 3,000 delegates representing the Golden State’s more than 8.9 million Democrats.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee was greeted by a standing ovation after a week that saw the first open hearings in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
“The most grave threat to the life and health of our democracy comes from within — from a president without ethical compass, without understanding of or devotion to our Constitution,” Schiff said. “And you know why? Because we vote. How do we build another big, beautiful wave? We vote. There is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who believes that he is above the law.”
Schiff asked the Democratic crowd to help “send that charlatan in the White House back to the golden throne he came from.”
Just hours before Univision’s “Real America” forum, news struck of a mass shooting in San Diego where five people, including three children, were shot dead.
A student from the Southern California school where a gunman killed two of his classmates Thursday asked California Senator Kamala Harris how, as president, she would ensure her safety.
Harris said she would give Congress 100 days to put gun reform legislation on her desk before taking executive action on mandatory background checks and a ban on assault weapon imports.
“Its traumatizing our children and it’s got to stop,” said Harris, who was endorsed Saturday by the California-based United Farm Workers.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg also said he supports tougher gun laws.
The Navy Reserve veteran said his health care plan may not be embraced by progressive Democrats but it’s one the “American majority” would support.
“I want Americans to make that decision for themselves,” Buttigieg said. “Under my plan, we’ll make Medicare-for-all available and if everyone wants it, everyone will choose it.”
Buttigieg’s comments were in response to a question by Univision’s León Krauze on comments by former President Barack Obama on the party’s field of candidates.
Obama praised Democratic candidates at a donor forum Friday and promised to campaign for the party’s selected candidate.
But the former Democratic leader also cautioned them on embracing policies “too far left” or those endorsed by progressive wings of the party.
Obama also said he wants Democrats to build on projects implemented during his administration such as the Affordable Care Act.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders told Univision anchor Jorge Ramos that raising the federal minimum wage and fighting climate change are not positions that will “tear down the system” but rather are supported by most Americans.
Sanders said “yes” when asked by Ramos whether Obama “made a mistake” by deporting nearly 3 million undocumented people during his tenure.
“The American people want to stop the ugly demonization of immigrant communities,” Sanders said.
Sanders told the crowd he would restore legal status to recipients of DACA through executive order and sign an immigration reform bill in his first 100 days in office.
Thousands attended an East Los Angeles rally Saturday for Sanders who announced endorsements this week from National Nurses United and United Teachers Los Angeles.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and entrepreneur Andrew Yang also said they support a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s nearly 12 million undocumented people.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro told Univision’s Ilia Calderón that President Donald Trump has emboldened white nationalists and that he would back immigration reform.
“We need an immigration system that emphasizes common sense, not cruelty,” Castro said.
The former San Antonio mayor added that he will stay in the race despite not qualifying for the next primary debate.
In a Latino Community Foundation and Latino Decisions poll released Wednesday, Castro ranked fourth among Latino voters in California.
The poll found that Castro has support from 9% of Latino voters while 31% would vote for Sanders and 22% would back Biden.
California has the most Latino eligible voters of any state with 7.7 million.
Krauze asked Yang about Facebook’s refusal to ban political advertisements on their platform, a move that Twitter has adopted.
“It’s time for Facebook to grow up,” Yang said. “They talk about being a world leader and looking out for the public interest but yet they refuse to take responsibility for ads on their platform.”
Dozens of Yang supporters marched around the convention before the forum, chanting “Yang gang” and passing out signs to onlookers.
The forum is the first to take place since the start of open hearings in President Donald Trump’s impeachment, only the fourth such hearings to take place in U.S. history.
Harris told Ramos the hearings should continue rather than wait until the general election.
“Congress is being true to the design of our democracy and holding accountable a fellow who happens to a criminal living in the White House,” Harris said, adding that “justice is on the ballot” in 2020.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former vice president Joe Biden skipped the convention Saturday.
Warren announced Friday she would not implement her Medicare-for-all proposal until 2023, deep into her first term and after midterm elections that year.
Biden said in a campaign statement Saturday that Warren is “scrambling to obfuscate her position on health care” and not being upfront about having to raise taxes to pay for her health care plan.
“Senator Warren has presented herself as the ‘plan’ candidate,” Biden said in the statement. “Yet on the most crucial issue to Democratic primary and general election voters, she has time and again failed to be straight with the American people.”
Biden has said he will build on the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, and offer a Medicare-like public health care option.
Billionaire and 2020 candidate Tom Steyer told the audience that he would declare a state of emergency in order to radically curb climate change.
When asked by Ramos about Sanders’ comments that billionaires “are not gonna buy the election,” Steyer said he agreed while also confirming he would spend at least $100 million of his own money on his campaign.
Steyer said he’s asked fellow presidential contender and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to either embrace a wealth tax or get out of the race.
Candidates John Delaney, Marianne Williamson and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick also addressed a general convention session Saturday but did not participate in the “Real America” forum.