WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) – Iowa Democrats got a full serving of picnic fare and political rhetoric from presidential candidates Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota in a Democratic Party gathering at a West Des Moines city park Wednesday.
Both Harris and Klobuchar, who took turns addressing the crowd on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday, made the obligatory references to the nation’s founders and recited their respective campaign messages. But they saved their most passionate lines for President Donald Trump.
Harris: “The current occupant of the White House . . . betrayed the people” on trade, on health care, and on immigration, with “babies in cages at our border and children separated from their parents. That is not reflective of our values and ideals.”
Klobuchar: “I want to cross the divide to a higher plain in our politics. Our president divides in every single tweet, on immigrants, on people of color people he disagrees with. We are better than that as a nation.”
And both candidates made their pitches honed on the stump.
Harris cited her career as a prosecutor: “As a former prosecutor, I know about predators. We have a predator in the White House. They prey on the vulnerable they believe are not strong. Predators are cowards. I will successfully prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump as president, and I am prepared to do that.”
Campaign themes Harris ticked off: equal pay, criminal justice reform, climate change and student loan debt. She said she will fight for “noble American ideals,” adding that “in our America, an America we are prepared to fight for, we will be proud. We will build up, not tear down.”
Klobuchar said she is the granddaughter of a miner who worked deep underground in Minnesota’s Iron Range, the daughter of a schoolteacher mother and a newspaper columnist father.
She said she wants to fight for economic independence by enforcing antitrust laws: “We are in another Gilded Age. Over and over we have seen monopoly power. I want to unleash the power of capitalism by enforcing those laws.”
Campaign themes Klobuchar ticked off: climate change, health care, shared prosperity, income equality and immigration.
“Immigrants don’t diminish America,” she said. “On this Fourth of July, let’s remember they are America.”
Cal Woods of Des Moines, who was standing on the edge of the crowd Wednesday sipping lemonade, said afterwards that he was impressed with both candidates, but Harris stood out to him.
“I think Kamala Harris has a very strong, passionate message and will stand up well against Trump in a debate,” he said. “I’m looking for a candidate who can not only beat Trump but who can crush Trump. I could see Kamala doing that.”
Wednesday’s West Des Moines Democrats picnic was one of many events that have attracted a swarm of presidential aspirants to the Hawkeye State this holiday week. Harris had back-to-back events scheduled to take advantage of Iowa’s full complement of parades, picnics and potlucks over the holiday. Klobuchar, who has been a frequent visitor to her neighboring state to the south, has been in Iowa since Monday.
For Harris, however, the Iowa trip comes on the heels of a fresh poll showing she has leapt ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders into second place among the crowded Democratic field, behind former Vice President Joe Biden.
She was greeted with this front-page headline in Wednesday’s Des Moines Register: “Poll: Harris Surges Here After Debate.”
The poll, commissioned by Suffolk University/USA Today showed Harris with the support of 16% of Iowa Democrats likely to attend their precinct caucus next February.
The poll of likely Iowa caucus attendees had Klobuchar at 2%.
Harris’ rise in the poll – which more than doubled from a the Des Moines Register/CNN Iowa Poll conducted in June – is seen as a reflection of the California senator’s performance at last week’s Democratic debate in Miami, where she upbraided former Biden for his opposition on school busing to achieve integration in the 1970s, and his references to segregationist senators he worked with at the time.