SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa — Presidential candidates former U.S. Rep. John Delaney, Admiral Joe Sestak and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke at the Dickinson County Democrats' Summer Sizzler Wednesday night on the Dickinson County Fairgrounds, each explaining why they deserve the Democratic nomination. Iowa Congressional candidates also addressed the crowd.
Delaney explained that the result of the Iowa Caucus, which takes Feb. 3, 2020, will depend on two questions: 1) Who can beat Donald Trump? and 2) Who is our next leader?
"I am the answers to those questions," he said. He added that he believes success depends on "building a big tent" and described himself as "someone who is committed to restoring decency to the White House."
"What the United States of America is desperately lacking right now is leadership," he said, listing a few areas where he believes leadership is the most needed.
"Everyone should have the opportunities I have had," Delaney said, noting that current young adults are the first generation of Americans that aren't doing better than their parents. He said crippling tuition debt is a significant factor in this phenomenon.
"Climate change is really a debt we are leaving to the next generation," he added, "because of our lack of political will to solve the problem."
Delaney proposed what he called "common-sense policy paired with a big idea." For example, he explained that he wants universal health care, but he also wants to retain choice of doctors.
"The central question of the United States of America right now is, 'How do we take this terribly divided nation and start bringing it back together?'" Delaney then proposed a solution: service toward others.
Sestak opened his remarks by sharing his experience as a Navy admiral working with other nations to stand up to terrorist regimes.
"America's greatest power is its power to convene," he reflected.
He called for a greater focus on worldwide cooperation in order to solve major problems.
"Even if we were to pass the Green New Deal," he said, "in a decade, it just won't matter." He noted that 85% of pollution takes place overseas, so the world has to work together to combat climate change.
"America needs to lead the world," he asserted.
Sestak also said the commander-in-chief "best know how it will end before it begins" when deciding whether to take military action. He added that historically, sending the U.S. military into a foreign country has not fixed the problem at hand.
Sestak advocated for universal health care, a conviction based on personal experience. Good health care saved his daughter's life when she was diagnosed with glioblastoma, he said.
He also called for economic reform.
"I stepped into another war when I was elected (as a U.S. Representative) — the Great Recession," he said.
Sestak explained that during his term, he spent countless hours visiting with his constituents in his office to clean up "the carnage of what Wall Street had done."
He called Wall Street "the one place a wall is needed — to keep greed out and accountability in." Sestak advocated for holding corporations accountable for how they use Americans' information.
Other initiatives Sestak supports include Family and Medical Leave Act expansion, free 4-year-old pre-K and lowering student debt.
His goal, Sestak explained, "is not just to be president. It is to heal this nation's soul."
Klobuchar was the only candidate to discuss the El Paso and Dayton shootings that happened last weekend.
"There are not two sides when there's white nationalism on the other side," she declared.
Coming from a state where hunting is a hugely popular pastime, Klobuchar said she supports the freedom to own firearms for that purpose. But, she added, background checks and hunting can coexist.
Klobuchar stated her three most urgent priorities: climate change, health care and immigration reform.
"(Climate change) is not happening 100 years from now," she said. "It's happening right now. It's happening in the heartland."
She referred to floods and ice storms that have plagued Midwest farmers during the last few seasons, calling for regulations she believes will alleviate the effects of climate change.
Klobuchar promised that if elected, she will reenter the Paris Agreement on day one of her presidency. She also supports gas mileage standards and alternative fuels.
She acknowledged that in the health care debate, there a large range of potential solutions. But, she added, "There is more that unites us than that divides us."
Her health care priorities are to prohibit an insurer from kicking someone off of their plan for preexisting conditions, and to take on pharmaceutical companies.
On immigration, Klobuchar remarked, "We have the challenge of making sure people share in the prosperity of this country."
She called for comprehensive immigration reform.
"Practically all of us stand on the shoulders of immigrants," she said. "Immigrants don't diminish America — they are America."
Klobuchar offered two reasons why she believes she should win the Democratic nomination: "I pledge that I can win, and I pledge that I will govern with integrity."