Eight Democratic presidential candidates participated in a forum as part of the state Democratic Party’s Fall Endorsing Convention Saturday in Long Beach, but the two biggest names in the race weren’t there.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; California Sen. Kamala Harris; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro; philanthropist/environmentalist Tom Steyer; and entrepreneur Andrew Yang fielded questions from Univision reporters and anchors and members of the audience at the Long Beach Arena.
Three other presidential candidates who were not invited to participate in the forum because they did not rank high enough in polling spoke earlier Saturday at the convention — author Marianne Williamson, former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney — along with former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who declared his candidacy Thursday.
Long Beach police made three arrests outside the arena Saturday while the convention was in session, but more than four hours before the forum began.
“At around 11:25AM we responded to the area of Pine/Ocean for reports of a fight. 3 suspects in custody. #LBPD is committed to ensuring everyone’s 1st Amendment rights, but we also want to remind you that any violence of any kind will not be tolerated in our community,” the department tweeted.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren declined to attend the “Real America” candidate forum. Warren cited a scheduling conflict. Biden attended a fundraiser in Portland on Saturday and was to speak at an evening town hall meeting in Las Vegas.
Their absence removed some of the national interest in the event, and the snubs drew the ire of state Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks.
“I respect your work/candidacy, BUT… you should reconsider your misguided decision to publicly snub California’s Democrats and Latino voters across the nation,” Hicks wrote on his Facebook page earlier this month.
“Your decision is a blatant disregard and disrespect to California’s grassroots leaders who make the phone calls, knock on the doors and give the money — in swing districts and swing states alike — year after year after year.
“It’s clear you don’t think you need us to win the primary. But, you just might need us in the General. Just sayin. So, reconsider your decision. And show us that you value the contributions of California’s hardworking Democrats who do the gritty house-to-house work it takes to win. Anything less is deeply disappointing.”
A Biden campaign aide told City News Service the former vice president “knows that the voices of Nevadans and Californians are crucial in the Democratic primary, which is why he will work harder than anyone else to earn their vote and ensure we defeat Donald Trump next November.”
Buttigieg, Castro, Harris, Sanders and Steyer are expected to attend another forum Sunday at Cal State Los Angeles. That event is sponsored by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at CSULA, ABC7, the California Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Leadership Action Fund.
The Sunday forum, set for 10:30 a.m., will be televised by ABC7 and cover “topics concerning the Latino community, including immigration, healthcare, jobs, economic security and education.”
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