Democratic presidential candidates were in Iowa for the first face-off of the 2016 primary, a contest that remains dominated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, writes the Vermont publication Times Argus. The event took place on Friday, according to the Kansas City Star.
Besides Hillary Clinton, the forum included Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Governor (and mayor of Baltimore) Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. Each candidate will deliver 15 minutes of remarks.
All five Democratic primary candidates were on the program for a dinnertime fundraiser sponsored by the state party in Cedar Rapids, creating an opportunity for her challengers to confront Clinton before more than 1,200 influential party activists in the crucial caucus state.
Three months into what seems like an “all-but-inexorable” march to the nomination, Clinton has already built a vast campaign infrastructure, establishing a multistory headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, and placing hundreds of staffers across the country, according to Times Argus.
An Associated Press-GfK poll released this week found her standing falling among Democrats, with about 70 percent of Democrats giving Clinton positive marks, an 11-point drop from an April survey. Nearly a quarter of Democrats now say they see Clinton in an unfavorable light.
“I don’t like seeing that, obviously,” Clinton said of the poll, speaking to reporters on Thursday. “But I think people know that I will fight for them. I’ll fight for their jobs, I’ll fight for their families, I’ll fight on behalf of better education and health care.”
She added: “I’m very pleased with the support I have.”
Just 17 percent of the $47 million that Clinton has raised since announcing her campaign came from contributions of $200 or less. In comparison, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has fueled his insurgent challenge to Clinton with small donations, pulling in three-quarters of his more than $15.2 million haul from smaller amounts.
In recent weeks, Sanders has filled arenas with voters eager to hear the message of the self-described “socialist,” who’s become Clinton’s chief rival.
So far, he’s refused to directly criticize Clinton, though he’s questioned her positions on issues like trade, Wall Street regulations and the Keystone XL pipeline.
“I like her. I respect her,” Sanders said on Tuesday, after joining his fellow Senate Democrats at a luncheon with Clinton on Capitol Hill. “It is not necessary for people to dislike each other or attack each other just because they’re running for office.”