ALTOONA, Iowa -- From reforming immigration and raising minimum wage, to expanding social security and medicare, four of the five democratic presidential hopefuls drew a crowd of hundreds. They hoped to capitalize on the fact that presumable front runner Hillary Clinton was a no show in Altoona.
Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee reminded attendees that he is the only democratic candidate who has served as Mayor, Governor and Senator. He said he'll do whatever it takes for the American people, "I'll walk through fire to do the right thing and that's why I'm running for president."
Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley touted his pro-worker, pro-labor mentality and getting America back to a people first mentality, saying, "Our economy is not money, our economy is people. It is all of our people and this is the truth our parents recognized and this is the truth we need to return to again today."
Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, along with all candidates, was firm on protecting social security and medicare. He also said he'd bring a strong presence when it comes to foreign affairs saying, "You will have a commander in chief that understands foreign policy and when to use force and how to respect those that have to go into harms way."
Current Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, still in session in Washington D.C., joined the forum through video, telling attendees, " The fight to make sure every person in the country can live with dignity and honor and have a decent paying job and have health care and social security as a right, that's who I am as a human being."
All four candidates spoke out against cutting social security and medicare and instead pushed for an expansion of both. They also believed that there needs to be a better path towards citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. One large issue many attendees took away, was their firm stances on supporting a raise of the minimum wage and building a stronger middle class America.
One glaring void was the lack of presence from the democratic front runner Hillary Clinton. Former Governor Martin O'Malley says he hopes she isn't resting on her laurels by passing on the forum. "I believe the presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth between two royal families. It is something sacred to be earned from the people of the United States."