DES MOINES, Iowa – Two of the three Democratic candidates for president spoke to Iowans and travelers from the Midwest in Des Moines Saturday.
Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, the second and third-place candidates in their party’s race for the presidential nomination, respectively, answered questions from Iowans during the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement-sponsored Putting Families First Forum. The event was held at First Christian Church on University Avenue in Des Moines.
O’Malley took the stage shortly after 2 p.m. He gave opening and closing remarks, and answered questions from nine Iowans who presented to him and the audience their personal stories. Sanders followed suit at 3 p.m. in the same format.
The two trailing Democratic candidates for president were center stage Saturday without Clinton in the room – an opportunity both of them took to at least sound like the front-runner, often lobbing attacks at Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
“I will end these mindless deportation policies that are ripping families apart,” O’Malley said to roaring applause. “And I will stand up to the immigrant-bashing, carnival barker, Donald Trump.”
While the crowd gave O’Malley their attention and applause, it was clearly a Bernie Sanders day for most. The Vermont Senator received roaring applause and standing ovations multiple times throughout his time on stage. Focusing on immigration, as well, Sanders took his own jab at Trump.
“Nobody has ever asked me about my birth certificate – maybe it has to do with the color of my skin, compared to President Obama’s?” he said.
O’Malley touched on a number of topics, including police brutality in America. He said he’d like to see “citizen review boards” established in cities to monitor police activity, and while he believes communities should be prepared to fight terrorism, he says he would cut the “militarization” of police departments across the country. Sanders honed in on affordable childcare, free college education, and prison reform. Sanders also told the crowd he wants to see mandatory, instant background checks done on every single person in the U.S. who tries to purchase a gun.
With Clinton out of sight, some voters chose to vocalize their lack of enthusiasm for the female front-runner. A small “Where is Clinton” chant between O’Malley’s and Sanders’ appearances quickly grew into a loud affair, involving most of the room.
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