The 2020 Democrats' first major convening in Iowa was surprisingly tame — with a few subtle Biden jabs

Bernie Sanders
(Image credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Nearly every Democratic candidate for president in 2020 assembled on Sunday for a key Iowa event, tearing into President Trump in their remarks but mostly refraining from attacks on their primary opponents.

Nineteen Democrats gathered in Cedar Rapids for the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame event, during which each person was allocated five minutes to speak at what was the first major convening of all of these candidates in one location, Politico reports. Former Vice President Joe Biden did not attend, with his campaign saying he was at his granddaughter's high school graduation.

Few candidates offered direct criticism of Biden, instead choosing to focus on Trump, notes CNN. There were some oblique references to the race's frontrunner, though, as when Sanders referred to "some well-intentioned Democrats and candidates who believe the best way forward is middle-ground strategy that antagonizes no one," which he said is a "failed political strategy."

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South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg also warned that "we're not going to win by playing it safe or promising a return to normal," notes The Associated Press. But when reporters specifically asked him about Biden afterward, he declined to comment, The Washington Post reports. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) also told reporters that “I'm not here to knock another Democrat," reports The Wall Street Journal. Andrew Yang did directly mention Biden's name and criticize him for his absence, though.

Offstage, O'Rourke praised Marianne Williamson for her speech, while candidates met one another's spouses and Harris took note of Yang's following. Overall, the race has certainly not yet descended into the kind of vicious, knives-out affair it may ultimately become, with O'Rourke telling Politico on Sunday that "we’re all in this together for the same purpose and cause." And Buttigieg on Saturday said he sees the race as not "having opponents so much as competitors," adding, "You would be surprised how often we are in dialogue with each other."

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