Democrats dine before Tuesday’s debate in Westerville

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Democratic Presidential is just two days away and a few of the Democratic candidates are already in town for its state dinner.

The national Democratic chairman and five of the party’s 2020 presidential contenders are scheduled to headline the Ohio Democratic Party’s biggest annual fundraiser.

The event falls two days before the fourth Democratic presidential primary debate being held at Otterbein University in Westerville.

“This is very important tonight because we have people from all over the state of Ohio, our party chairs,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty, (D-OH). “We have millennials and young folks because we’re coming together because we know, on Tuesday, we have the debate right here in central Ohio. We’re excited because these candidates have strong messages and we know no matter who you are with, any one of their messages is better than Donald Trump’s is.”

Pete Buttigieg was one of the presidential candidates trying to lobby for support at the dinner.

“I think Americans are looking for someone who can solve these big problems and unify us at the same time,” he said. “We don’t have to choose. We can have bold action and be a less divided nation.”

The candidates who took the stage are preaching to their choir: Ohio’s strongest Democrats. Those are the people on the ground who will be knocking on doors, registering voters, and planting yard signs. Those people want a strong candidate to rise to the top.

“I’m different than a lot of the other candidates up on that stage, I have won in red Congressional districts over and over and I’ve done it by bringing people with me, by firing up our base with the highest voter turnout in the country,” said candidate Amy Klobuchar.

Billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer has never before been on a ballot. He qualified for the crowded debate stage for the first time, with a plan to spend up to $100 million and a pledge to break the corporate stranglehold on government.

“I think most people don’t know who I am,” Steyer said. “So I feel like this is my opportunity to explain why I am running for president.”

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan didn’t qualify for the debate stage because the threshold for money and support was too high. The cutoff was determined by the party, not voters.

“You know, it gives the dark horse candidate a more difficult hurdle before you even get to New Hampshire,” he said. “I thought the process was Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina — they would weed out the candidates.”

The party has plans to have the candidates meet this week with Ohio farmers and auto workers leading up to Tuesday’s debate.

“Well, if you heard anything about my campaign, you know that I want to put $1,000 a month into the hands of every American adult and this would be a game changer for tens of millions of Americans and millions of Ohioans,” said candidate Andrew Yang.

In just two days, these candidates will be on a very different stage: the debate stage at Otterbein University, but their message will be much the same and again, they will be trying to fire up the troops for 2020.

Republican President Donald Trump decisively carried Ohio in 2016. Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper says suburbs like Westerville are trending Democratic and are shaping up as major political battlegrounds next year.

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