San Francisco

Democratic Presidential Candidates in San Francisco for 2019 State Party Convention

More than a dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls have flocked to California for the chance to make their cases to thousands of activists in the nation's largest liberal stronghold.

Candidates held rallies across the state before descending on San Francisco for a three-day gathering of the California Democratic Party.

Home-state Sen. Kamala Harris looked to make a show of force while Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who vied for the Democratic nomination in 2016, hoped to build on the fervent support he received in California during that race. Twelve others in the 2020 pack hoped to introduce themselves and spark interest among the party's most faithful voters.

Many of the leading candidates gathered for Move On’s Big Ideas Forum in San Francisco Saturday and it was a protester that stole the show. Christie Smith reports.

"I'm here again, to ask for you to stand with me in a fight," Harris told union workers on Saturday morning, before the party convention. She reminded them of her record while she was California's attorney general and highlighted her campaign proposals to support working families.

"It will not be easy — this will not be given to us," Harris said.

At the convention hall, dozens of Harris supporters chanted her name and waved signs. But at another event for advocacy group MoveOn, things didn't go smoothly for Harris when a demonstrator jumped on stage, took the microphone from her hand to ask her a question. The man was quickly escorted out by security.

A demonstrator in the crowd jumped on stage during MoveOn's #BigIdeas Q&A with Sen. Kamala Harris and was escorted out by security.

The protester told NBC Bay Area that he's a voter from Oakland and that he's frustrated the senator isn't prioritizing animal rights and climate issues. Over a thousand of other demonstrators were gathered outside San Francisco Civic Center to march for animal rights.

Sanders received an enthusiastic reception Friday night at a meeting of the Chicano-Latino caucus, which endorsed him during the close 2016 contest with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Speaking to SEIU workers this morning, Sen. Kamala Harris reminded them of her record while she was California’s attorney general and highlighted her campaign proposals to support working families.

"This time we are going to win California," he declared.

California has shifted its 2020 primary earlier on the calendar, to March 3, part of the Super Tuesday collection of contests, in hopes of giving the state more sway in choosing the party's nominee. California will offer the largest delegate haul.

Among the major contenders seeking to challenge President Donald Trump, only former Vice President Joe Biden declined to attend the California convention. He was scheduled to speak at a Human Rights Campaign event in Ohio on Saturday night.

[BAY]“I’ve Got a Plan for That:” Senator Elizabeth Warren Rallies in Oakland

Candidates usually rely heavily on California, home to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, to raise campaign cash. But the earlier primary is so far leading some candidates to spend more time in front of rank-and-file voters. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren held a rally before thousands of voters in Oakland on the eve of the convention's main program.

Warren electrified California Democrats on Saturday with a pledge for bold action, matching if not outshining enthusiasm for Harris.

High-profile presidential candidates took the stage Friday in San Francisco with plenty of cheers and promises. Sam Brock reports.

"Some say if we all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses," Warren said in bringing the crowd to its feet with a thinly veiled shot at former Vice President Joe Biden, who has expressed hope the GOP will have "an epiphany" after President Donald Trump is gone. "But our country is in a crisis. The time for small ideas is over."

Harris too sparked a standing ovation when she declared, "We need to begin impeachment proceedings and we need a new commander in chief!"

Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi avoided mentioning impeachment in her remarks but said the House would hold Trump accountable.

Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar spoke briefly at SEIU Breakfast Forum in San Francisco on Saturday ahead of the Democratic California Convention.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke also addressed the morning convention, slipping seamlessly between Spanish and English, a key move in a state with a large Hispanic population. He praised California Democrats for their massive turnout in the 2018 midterms, when the party flipped seven U.S. House seats held for years by Republicans and noted that his unsuccessful Senate bid drew record Democratic turnout as well.

"You, California Democrats, have offered the rest of the country an example," he said. "And in Texas we were right there with you."

Sanders wasn't scheduled to address the full crowd until Sunday, but he greeted union workers at a Saturday morning breakfast and received an enthusiastic reception Friday night at a meeting of the Chicano-Latino caucus, which endorsed him during the close 2016 contest with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"This time we are going to win California," he declared.

The other candidates attending the gathering are New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; California Rep. Eric Swalwell; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; former Obama housing chief Julian Castro; and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney.

Who’s Running for President in 2020?

The race for the 2020 presidential election is underway, and the field of Democratic candidates is packed. Those who have announced presidential bids include a vice president, senators, House members and three mayors. As for the GOP, a single Republican has announced his bid to challenge President Donald Trump for the party nomination: former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who ran for vice president (and lost) in 2016 on the Libertarian party ticket.

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Updated Nov. 20, 2019
Note: Incorrect information about Michael Bennet’s cancer diagnosis and titles for Joe Sestak and William Weld have been revised on July 29, 2019, 3:17 p.m. ET.
Credit: Jo Bruni, Emma Barnett, Asher Klein, Dan Macht, Kelly Zegers / NBC;  Photos: Getty Images

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