The Daily Iowan

Meet the 2020 hopefuls

12 Democrats and 3 Republicans are running to seek the presidential nomination. Here’s everything you need to know before the Iowa caucuses.


Michael Bennet, Democrat

Senator from Colorado, 55

 

Fast Facts: 

  • Bennet served as superintendent of Denver schools for about 5 years in the mid-2000s.
  • Bennet entered the race late after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. He didn’t announce his candidacy until May, several months after most presidential hopefuls began touring the state.
  • Bennet is known for his work as part of the “Gang of Eight,” a group of four Democratic and four Republican senators who wrote the first draft of a 2013 immigration bill. The bill passed the Senate, but stalled in the House of Representatives.

Signature Issues:

  • Leaning on his superintendent experience, Bennet has focused his campaign on strengthening K-12 education. His plan aims to guarantee every child a quality education nationwide by 2028 and form community partnerships to reach that goal backed by $10 million in federal funding over five years.
  • Bennet supports free community college and college-debt forgiveness for those working in public service or high-demand jobs.
  • Bennet favors expanding the Child Tax Credit, which would provide tax breaks for families. He also supports enacting paid family leave and expanding the earned income tax credit.
    Bennet doesn’t want to transition Americans off their private insurance plans to a national Medicare for All plan. He released an ad in Iowa where Bennet says “The truth is, a health care plan that starts by kicking people off their coverage makes no sense. We all know it.” He does support expanding Medicare to include a public health insurance option.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

0 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Joe Biden, Democrat

Former Vice President, 77

Fast Facts:

  • This is Biden’s third round campaigning for president in Iowa ahead of the caucuses. He first ran in 1988, then again in 2008.
  • Biden has fielded criticism for how he handled hearings as head of the judiciary committee when Anita Hill said she experienced sexual harassment by a supreme court nominee while she worked for him as an aid. He’s also apologized after several women said the vice president touched them in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.
  • Tragedy is no stranger to the Biden family. Weeks after Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate at age 29, Biden’s wife, Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident. In 2015, Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer.

Signature Issues:

  • Biden says he can build a broad coalition of Americans to defeat President Trump in a general election by appealing to moderate and Republican-leaning voters.
  • His plan to “revitalize rural America” includes funding for solar and wind energy, loans to beginning farmers, biofuel industry, rural broadband infrastructure, and agriculture research. Biden toured 18 Iowa counties over the course of eight days in November as part of a “No Malarky” tour to tout his plan for rural America.
  • Biden’s infrastructure plan pledges $1.3 trillion to fix up highways and would incorporate Biden’s goal to transition the U.S. to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

15 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Michael Bloomberg, Democrat

Former Mayor of New York City, 77

Fast Facts:

  • Bloomberg earned a bulk of his wealth working on WallStreet in the 1970s and in 1981 founding Bloomberg Lp, a financial wire which now includes Bloomberg News.
  • He left the Democratic Party in 2002 to run for Mayor of New York City as a Republican. He switched his registration back in October of 2019 to enter the Democratic presidential-nomination field.
  • The former mayor’s net worth is $55.7 billion, and he says he’s pledged to give nearly all of his wealth to philanthropic causes.
  • Bloomberg has largely bypassed Iowa. He hasn’t visited the Hawkeye State and has said that he’ll forego campaigning in the first four states in the nominating process.

Signature Issues:

  • Bloomberg’s most prominent issue is gun control. He’s the primary funder for the national nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety and has placed emphasis on universal background checks. He does not support gun buy-back programs.
  • Bloomberg’s climate change proposal, Beyond Carbon, aims to eliminate coal-fired power plants by 2030 and transition the U.S to more renewable energy.
  • Bloomberg is against Medicare for All policies, but supports expanding Medicare and the Affordable Care Act to include a public alternative to private health insurance. That stance is similar to many of his moderate opponents in the Democratic field.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

1 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Pete Buttigieg, Democrat

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, 38

Fast Facts:

  • Buttigieg graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, was awarded the Rhodes scholarship and studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford.
  • Buttigeig served in the United States Naval Reserve as an intelligence officer from 2009 to 2017. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 for seven months.
  • Buttigieg has built his campaign around being transparent, and he had journalists join him for a four-day, on-the-record bus tour in Iowa in September.
  • Buttigieg is the first openly gay man in the modern sense to run for president.
  • He’s faced scrutiny over private-sector work at Mckinsey, a management consulting corporate law firm. His clients included Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Best Buy, and several federal agencies.

Signature Issues:

  • Buttigieg has campaigned in Iowa on his experience as a young gay man governing a Midwestern city where manufacturing jobs had faded. Buttigieg has said South Bend’s standard of living improved during his mayoral tenure, though it is unclear how much his policies directly affected the rise in median wage and dip in poverty.
  • As the youngest candidate in the race, Buttigieg often talks about young people’s responsibility to deal with the threats facing his generation, namely climate change and gun violence. He supports a carbon tax and returning the revenue generated to Americans in a dividend and ending fossil fuel subsidies. He doesn’t support mandatory buybacks, but does back “red flag” laws and banning high capacity magazines.
  • Buttigieg proposed a court with fifteen justices, ten of which are chosen by appointment, with five being chosen by an unanimous vote of the other ten.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

16 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


John Delaney

Former U.S. Representative from Maryland, Democrat, 55

Fast Facts:

  • The first to announce his candidacy, Delaney has been campaigning in Iowa since July of 2017. He was the first presidential hopeful to complete a tour of all 99 counties.
  • Throughout his campaign, Delaney has spent $24.4 million of his own personal wealth.
  • Before running for office, Delaney co-founded two companies that were publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Health Care Financial Partners and Capital Source.

Signature Issues:

  • A moderate candidate, Delaney has campaigned largely adding a national public health-care option and wants to preserve provisions in the Affordable Care Act. 
  • Delaney would also raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and supports making the first two years of college “cost free.”
  • He supports eliminating private prisons and mandatory minimums in criminal sentencing.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

0 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. Representative from Hawaii, 38

Fast Facts:

  • Gabbard was deployed to Iraq for 12 months as part of the Hawaii National Guard.
  • She’s the first Hindu member of Congress and the first American Samoa in Congress
  • She supported Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2016 nominating contest and serves on the Medicare for All caucus in Congress.
  • The Representative of Hawaii voiced concerns around the impeachment process of President Trump, and voted “present” on the impeachment vote, one of four Democrats to not vote in favor of both articles of impeachment.
  • 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called Gabbard a “favorite of the Russians” in November, suggesting that Russia was supporting Gabbard for a third-party run. Gabbard responded by calling Clinton “the queen of warmongers.”
  • Gabbard drew criticism in 2017 for meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of using chemical weapons on Syrian citizens.

Signature Issues:

  • Her signature issue is ending regime-change wars, meaning efforts by the U.S. to oust the leader of a country and change its regime type.
  • She favors reducing military spending in order to expand domestic social programs and wants to see worldwide nuclear disarmament.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

2 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Senator from Minnesota, 59

Fast Facts:

  • From the neighboring state of Minnesota, Klobuchar announced her run for office in the middle of a snowstorm.
  • Klobuchar was met with criticism early in her campaign after some former staffers told Buzzfeed news Klobuchar created a hostile working environment.
  • She became the first candidate polling above 1 percent to visit all 99 counties in Iowa. In December, she embarked on a 27-county tour of Iowa to meet her goal before the impeachment hearings in the Senate began.

Signature Issues:

  • Klobuchar emphasizes her moderate politics as the way to win over places Trump won in 2016. She’s never lost a race (including for county attorney in Hennepin County and for U.S. Senate beginning in 2006).
  • Favors expanding Medicare or Medicaid to include a public alternative to private health insurance.
  • In May, she released a $100 billion plan to combat drug and alcohol addiction and better mental health care. It’s an issue personal to her after her father struggled with alcoholism.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

6 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Deval Patrick

Former Governor of Massachusetts, 63

Fast Facts:

  • Patrick became the second black governor elected in the U.S. in 2006.
  • Patrick is close friends with former President Barack Obama, and sought his advice before entering the race. He’s so far only made two stops to the Hawkeye State this cycle.
  • Before joining the race, Patrick worked as a political contributor for CBS News.

Signature Issues:

  • As governor of Massachusetts, Patrick pushed for increased funding for infrastructure and transportation.
  • Patrick proposed universal pre-k and free community college as governor.
  • Patrick supports lowering carbon emissions. He implemented policies to increase biofuel production in Massachusetts.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

0 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Bernie Sanders

Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont, 78

Fast Facts:

  • Sanders was hospitalized in October after suffering a heart attack, sparking concerns about his health and ability to hold office.
  • In 2016, Sanders held support with young people.
  • After running several unsuccessful campaigns for national office with the Liberty Union party in the 1970s, Sanders was elected Mayor of Burlington in 1980 by a margin of 10 votes.

Signature Issues:

  • The Vermont senator supports waiving all tuition fees and forgiving all student loan debt, a degree left.
  • A self-described democratic socialist, Sanders campaigned on issues such as universal health care, an increased minimum wage, and free college in 2016, and credits his influence with bringing those ideas to a forefront in the Democratic party.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

20 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Tom Steyer

Billionaire businessman, philanthropist, political donor, 62

Fast Facts:

  • Steyer centers his candidacy on his experience growing businesses into multimillion dollar enterprises as a preview of what Steyer could accomplish as the head of the largest economy in the world.
  • Steyer has an aunt who lives in Iowa City. Betsy Fahr turned 100 in December, and Steyer came to visit her just before giving what his campaign called a major economic address.

Signature Issues:

  • Steyer pitches himself as a billionaire benefactor. He says he can break what he calls the “corporate stranglehold” on American politics.
  • Climate change remains Steyers other big front. In 2013, Steyer began Nextgen Climate, a climate change advocacy group. He’s released a plan that, in addition to declaring a climate emergency on his first day in office, would invest more than $2 trillion over a decade to transition away from fossil fuels.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

2 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, 70

Fast Facts:

  • Warren has taken over 100,000 selfies with people on the campaign trail..
  • Warren is an expert on bankruptcy law, having served on the National Bankruptcy Review Commission in the 1990s.
  • Warren has been steadily polling among the top three spots in Iowa.

Signature Issues:

  • Campaign messaging has centered on Warren’s plans for domestic social programs. Medicare-for-all.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

17 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Andrew Yang

Entreprenuer, 44

Fast facts:

  • Initially seen as a long-shot candidate, Andrew Yang has captured an online following, informally known as the “Yang Gang”, after appearing on popular podcasts such as the Joe Rogan Experience.
  • One of his slogans, MATH, stands for Make America Think Harder.
  • Yang’s oldest son, Christopher, has autism. He’s never appeared on the campaign trail in the Hawkeye State, but Yang has talked about him often, including in a campaign ad and at campaign events, such as one where he highlighted his and his wife Evelyn’s support for more resources in schools for social and emotional health.
  • Yang has consistently made the debate stage ahead of U.S. senators and other candidates with more political experience. He was the only non-white candidate to meet polling and donor requirements for the December Democratic debates.

Signature Issues:

  • Yang wants to give every American $1,000 a month in order to displace what he calls an economy that is rapidly running away with manufacturing jobs. He says Trump’s election is a symptom of misplaced economic value than the cause.

Polling/ polling change (according to the most recent Iowa Poll):

5 percent. Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers conducted Jan. 2-8 surveying 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Donald Trump

President, 73

Fast facts:

  • Former real estate developer and reality TV star.
  • Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” was first coined by Ronald Reagan.
  • The Trump administration has the highest staff turnover rate out of any other white House.

Signature Issues:

  • The Trump administration implemented a “zero-tolerance” policy for immigrants crossing the border illegally and has made it harder for immigrants to seek asylum.
  • Trump signed a bill that cut taxes for corporations, high-income earners, and some middle-class families.
  • Manufacturing jobs have increased under the Trump administration.

Joe Walsh

Former U.S. Representative from Illinois and Conservative talk radio host, 57

Fast facts:

  • Walsh was previously aligned with the racist birther movement, calling Obama a “muslim,” and a “traitor,” though he has expressed regret for those comments.
  • Walsh is a University of Iowa alum. He graduated with a BA in English in 1985.
  • Walsh, a Republican, supports the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Signature Issues:

  • Walsh supports repealing the Affordable Care Act.
  • Walsh supports Trump’s border wall, but does not support seperating families at the border.
  • Walsh believes that humans play a role in climate change and that the Republican party should acknowledge the problem.

Bill Weld

Former Governor of Massachusetts, 74

Fast facts:

  • Weld was the Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate in 2016 as Gary Johnson’s running mate.
  • Weld is one of two former Governors of Massachusetts in the 2020 race, along with Democrat Deval Patrick. The two also share a birthday.
  • Weld is married to the great-granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt.

Signature Issues:

  • Weld has publicly supported the legalization of medical marijuana since 1992.
  • Weld supports access to abortion, and took steps as governor to make access to abortion easier in Massachusetts.
  • Weld wants to implement flat-rate taxes.