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2020 Democrats take veiled shots at Biden in Iowa

2020 Democrats take veiled shots at Biden in Iowa
© Greg Nash - UPI Photos

Several of the most prominent Democratic presidential hopefuls speaking at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Hall of Fame celebration on Sunday used the opportunity to take veiled shots at current front-runner Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Science denialism in the new administration Jill Biden to offer input on helping reunite separated immigrant families: report MORE, warning that a cautious platform could gift President TrumpDonald TrumpFBI says California extremist may have targeted Newsom House Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Facebook to dial back political content on platform MORE the 2020 race.

“I understand that there are some well-intentioned Democrats and candidates who believe that the best way forward is a middle-ground strategy that antagonizes no one, that stands up to nobody, and that changes nothing,” Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders says he's raised .8 million for charity after mittens meme Former Sanders press secretary: Further means-testing of COVID-19 aid 'unconscionable' Leahy expected to preside over impeachment after health scare MORE (I-Vt.), who placed second behind the former vice president in a poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers released Saturday, told the gathered crowd.

“In my view, that approach is not just bad public policy, but it is a failed political strategy that I feel could end up with the reelection of Donald Trump,” Sanders added.

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Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenReddit traders cause Wall Street havoc by buying GameStop Elizabeth Warren weighs in on the GameStop stock surge The Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis MORE (D-Mass.), who was statistically tied with Sanders and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegOn The Money: Reddit traders cause Wall Street havoc | Powell: Inflation fears should not impede more coronavirus aid | NJ lawmakers press for SALT cap repeal in next relief package Senate panel advances Buttigieg nomination in 21-3 vote Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE (D) in the same poll, referenced Biden's strategy of targeting wealthy donors.

“I’m not spending my time with high-dollar donors and with corporate lobbyists,” said Warren, according to The Washington Post. “I’m spending my time with you. That’s how we build a grass-roots movement in America.” 

Buttigieg, meanwhile, warned of consequences of "playing it safe" during his speech at the event.

“We’re not going to win by playing it safe or promising to return to normal,” he reportedly said.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Biden lifts Trump's transgender military ban | Democrats, advocates celebrate end of ban | 5,000 guardsmen staying in DC through mid-March Democrats torn on impeachment trial timing OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: 12 removed from National Guard inauguration security | Austin backs lifting transgender ban MORE (D-N.Y.) made a thinly veiled reference to Biden's recent flip-flopping on the Hyde Amendment, a provision which bans federal funds from going toward abortions except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.

“I don’t think there is room in our party for a Democratic candidate who does not support women’s full reproductive freedom,” she said, per the Post.

Biden's campaign sparked controversy on Wednesday after reaffirming his decades-long support for the Hyde Amendment. Many members of his party, including Gillibrand, Warren and Sanders, criticized him for maintaining that stance.

But then Biden reversed on the issue a day later during a Democratic National Committee gala in Atlanta, saying he no longer supported the amendment. The episode was illustrative of the challenges he faces in appealing to moderates while also pleasing the progressive wing of his party

Entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangYang to quarantine after campaign staffer tests positive for COVID-19 Andrew Yang sparks Twitter uproar with pro-bodega video Yang announces run for New York City mayor MORE was the only candidate to call out Biden by name, quipping that the former Delaware senator "must really not like to travel," according to the Post.

The former vice president has generally adopted more moderate views than those of the other top contenders in the Democratic primary field, arguing for a return to pre-2016 normalcy.

He has held a significant lead in most national and state polls since officially entering the presidential race in April.

Saturday's Iowa poll showed signs that his lead may be taking a hit.

Conducted by veteran pollster Ann Selzer for the Des Moines Register and CNN, the poll of the first-in-the-nation caucus state found Biden leading the Democratic field with 24 percent of the vote.

However, Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg were not far behind, all polling between 14 and 16 percent.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSenate Democrats reintroduce DC statehood bill Sen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized What the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform MORE (D-Calif.) was the only other candidate to clear 2 percent support, at 7 percent.

On Sunday, Harris highlighted her experience as California's Attorney General, promising to "make the case for America and to prosecute the case against Donald Trump," according to the Register.