DES MOINES, Iowa -- It’s less than a week away from the second Democratic presidential debates and candidates are making sure Iowans know what they are all about. More candidates swept through Iowa at several events Friday.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Julián Castro, a former cabinet secretary to President Barack Obama, spoke at a forum in downtown Des Moines. At a town hall event, Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, introduced his new economic policy to empower workers and increase wages.
In the 2016 election, only 55 percent of registered voters from ages 18 to 24 came out to vote. But candidates on Friday said they think more young voters will head to the polls come 2020.
“My sense is that millennials are going to vote at a much greater rate in 2020. They have a bigger stake in the future. They see this president is taking them in the wrong direction,” said Castro.
While Booker is on the older side at age 50, he made his appeal to younger voters on issues like upward mobility.
“We have the urgency to make the promise of America for everybody and that means focusing back on an opportunity economy. And a lot of my policies are a lot about that,” said Booker.
Booker and one voter bonded over some millennial trends.
“I’m also a fellow vegan,” said a voter, which prompted laughter from the audience and Booker to give her a hug.
Castro honed in on his plan to tackle student loan debt.
“Give people an opportunity to unshackle that burden of heavy student loan debt,” said Castro.
He also addressed the issue of affordable housing.
“You all are buying homes at a lesser rate than previous generations. Student loan debt is one problem. We want to address that, but in too many places there aren`t enough affordable homes, so my plan would create more homes that are affordable,” said Castro.
Buttigieg already has a strong millennial following. He differentiated himself from others as being part of their generation.
“I`m a different kind of messenger because I belong to the generation that's lived so many of the realities of our time. People in my life have been saved by Obamacare and killed by the opioid crisis,” said Buttigieg.
While all three candidates had their own set of appeals, each seemed to touch on how they will address an issue millennials are facing.
“A generation that’s about to be the first in American history not to do better economically than our parents,” said Buttigieg.
Buttigieg will be speaking Saturday afternoon at the same convention Booker and Castro were at Friday.
All three candidates will appear in the second round of Democratic debates on Wednesday and Thursday in Detroit.