Here are the highlights from the final 7 candidates who spoke at the Wing Ding dinner Friday night in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sanders isn’t shy about naming his enemies: “Wall Street and the drug companies and the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry and the NRA.”
He is also direct about what it would take to overcome those forces: “An unprecedented grassroots movement.”
The Vermont senator also called for gun control measures, and said Trump is “the most dangerous president in the history of this country”
“Together, we will end the racism and the sexism and the Islamophobia and the homophobia and all the other phobias that this President exhibits. And we will end white nationalism in this country, as well.”
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
Booker scrapped the shortened version of his stump speech that most candidates were delivering to instead focus his five minutes on gun violence.
In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Booker said he would not “let the slaughter of our fellow citizens just disappear in the next media cycle.”
“This road won’t be easy. There’ll be weeks like this,” Booker said.
“It’s not just the mass shootings,” he said. “It’s the fact that every day in America, people are being slaughtered in communities like mine where the sound of gunfire is so regular.”
“This is not a referendum on one guy in one office; this is a referendum on us and who we are going to be to each other. This is one of those moral moments in our nation that is going to define the moral character of our country,” Booker said.
Booker earned the second standing ovation of the night with a rousing close, telling the crowd they can “overcome this darkness with our light. This is the call of our country. And it is time for the United States of America to rise again.”
The entrepreneur’s focus on the economic threat of automation was a major change of pace.
“We’re in the third inning of the greatest economic transformation in the history of our country,” he said. “It is up to you to do something about it.”
He pitched his proposal to give every American $1,000 per month, which he said would be the “tech check.”
“It would go right back into your communities,” he said, paying for things like day care and Little League sign-ups. “It would help give rural areas a real path forward, because we know rural areas are getting sucked dry by today’s economy.”
“And unlike the nonsense out of Washington, DC, this would work,” Yang said.
California Sen. Kamala Harris
Harris’ argument was straightforward: “We are better than this. So this is a moment of time for us to fight for the best of who we are.”
The California senator said Trump’s presidency has been about “trying to divide us.”
She lambasted Trump’s impact on farmers, saying that “this man’s fragile ego” has “prompted trade policy by tweet.”
“This is a fight not only for the soul of our country, born out of love for our country, but this is a fight knowing that this is so much worse than what we ever hoped it could be,” she said of Trump’s presidency.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
“I’m here to say this one thing,” Inslee began by saying. “If you put me on the debate stage with Donald Trump, I will beat him like a two-dollar mule.
“Of course. we Democrats don’t do that to animals,” he said. “We treat them with respect. And the reason for that is, I’ve never met a mule that lies like Donald Trump … and I’ve never met a mule that was a white nationalist.”
Inslee said if he is elected, the Democratic Party would prioritize investing in small towns.
Inslee bragged about Washington state’s progressive policies, including net neutrality, equal pay and efforts to combat climate change.
He also touted his vote to ban assault weapons, saying he knew he would lose his seat in Congress over it — which he did, a cost Inslee said was worth paying.
And Inslee said he would make defeating the climate crisis “the No. 1 priority of the United States of America.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Warren delved into the weeds of her policy proposals focused on rural America, focusing on community hospitals and family farms.
“We start by being willing to fight against hospital mergers that cost us our local hospitals. And we recognize the economics: small hospitals operate on thin margins. That means everyone who comes in the door needs to be covered by health care, that’s one of the reasons I support ‘Medicare for All,’” she said.
Warren added that “we need to have the courage to break up big ag, to fight against big ag.”
But her biggest applause line came when she touted her “wealth tax” proposal — a 2% fee on America’s wealthiest people.
“We’ve had enough of an America where the government works better and better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. 2020 is our chance: We can make this government work for all of America,” she said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Rather than touting his own policy proposals, Biden argued that Trump is “an existential threat” who is eroding “the guardrails of society that we set up long ago to contain the abuse of power.”
He compared Trump’s presidency, which he said is “white nationalism” and “white supremacy,” to the Ku Klux Klan’s prominence in the 1920s.
“Donald Trump offers no moral leadership. He has no interest in unifying the country. There’s no evidence the presidency has awakened his conscience,” he said.
Biden, who sat in the front row and watched others speak, said that “the core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very own sense of who we are is at stake.”
“Presidents, the words they say matter. They can move markets. They can send women and men to war. They can make peace. They can inspire us to reach the moon. They can appeal to our better angels. But they can also induce the ugliest, most venal side of society,” he said.