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"We will rise": 2020 Democratic candidates attend Iowa Steak Fry

2020 Dems gather in Iowa for steak fry
2020 Democratic hopefuls descend on Iowa steak fry 01:46

More than 11,000 attendees showed up for burgers and face time with 17 presidential candidates at the Democratic Polk County Steak Fry in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday. Although 18 Democratic candidates were initially expected to attend, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped out of the presidential race on Friday morning.

Organizers grilled 10,500 steaks for attendees on Saturday, along with 1,000 vegan burgers. There is only one vegan candidate in the presidential race: Senator Cory Booker.

Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke kicked off the speeches by talking about his mandatory gun buyback plan, saying he won't let "PACs, NRA, or even fellow Democrats tell us what is and what is not possible." He led the crowd in a chant of "hell yes," his signature comment from the third debate as he walked off stage.

Senator Kamala Harris, whose campaign announced this week will focus heavily on Iowa, opened by joking, "I don't know if you guys heard, but I'm planning on moving" to the state. She said she has a "winning strategy that addresses challenges that wake people up in the middle of the night." McDonald's workers joined her at her pre-steak fry rally. 

Despite the dire news from Booker's campaign earlier Saturday that he would have to drop out of the race if he didn't raise $1.7 million by the end of September, the New Jersey senator gave an impassioned speech that focused on rising above hatred. He touched on his family's history in Iowa, health care and beating President Trump. He ended his speech with the call, "We will rise!"

17 Democratic candidates attend Iowa Steak Fry 06:54

Former Vice President Joe Biden did not mention reports that Mr. Trump repeatedly tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his son, Hunter. This interaction with Zelensky may be the subject of a whistleblower report to the inspector general of the intelligence community that the Trump administration has refused to provide to Congress. 

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who notably lobbed public jabs at O'Rourke and Senator Elizabeth Warren earlier this week, said the Democrats "can't get caught up in purity tests." He got one of the largest receptions from the crowd. But later, at another Iowa event, the audience chanted "Medicare for all" while Buttigieg tried to tout his "Medicare for all who want it" plan, which he introduced this week.

Grace Segers and Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

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