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 BidenBiden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility Inslee unveils plan to fight fossil fuel pollution Biden lays out immigration priorities, rips Trump for 'assault on dignity' MORE, warning that a cautious platform could gift President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates 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 SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Progressive group launches campaign to identify voters who switch to Warren 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 Ann Warren2020 Democrat: 'My DM's are open and I actually read & respond' Group of wealthy Americans write open letter asking to be taxed more Inslee unveils plan to fight fossil fuel pollution MORE (D-Mass.), who was statistically tied with Sanders and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegGroup of wealthy Americans write open letter asking to be taxed more The Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate 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 Elizabeth GillibrandJuan Williams: Warren on the rise 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown 2020 Democrats vow to expand abortion access at Planned Parenthood event 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 Yang2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights Nonprofit praises Andrew Yang's local news fellowship initiative 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 Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown 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.