CLINTON — Four Democratic candidates made their bid for the presidency at Alliant Energy Field on Saturday.

John Edwards and Sens. Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden each stepped up to home plate to make their pitch to the stadium crowd, which came out for State Rep. Polly Bukta’s 12th annual corn boil fundraiser.

The cold and rainy weather may have put a damper on attendance, but those who did attend were passionate about the candidates.

Toni Morrise came from Davenport for the event, and brought her whole family with her, including her mom, aunt and five children.

“We’re here to see Hillary,” Morrise said. “She’s an inspiration for women all over the world.”

Morrise, who has four daughters, felt it was important for them to see Sen. Clinton and to “recognize you can grow up and do whatever you want, even become President of the United States.”

Jean Pardee of Clinton, a retired teacher and chairwoman of the Clinton County Democrats, felt it was important for the candidates to be in Clinton.

“We’re a blue county that has a significant number of delegates, and like most of the rest of Iowa, we know how to evaluate and select a good nominee,” Pardee said.

“I’m here because I’m a Democrat and I’m hoping that one of these nominees will win the election. I want to hear what they all have to say,” said Carole Gilbert of Clinton, who attended the event with her daughter. “I could support any one of the candidates, but I’m going to begin by supporting Joe Biden.”

Gilbert has been a fan of the Senator since hearing a speech Biden gave to the U.S. Senate on Sept. 10, 2001, the day before the terrorist attacks on America.

“He said we could be attacked, and the next day we were,” Gilbert said. “I felt he had some knowledge about what was going on in the world in foreign affairs.

Cynthia Pugh came with her husband and two young children all the way from Maryland for the event.

“We just arrived in Iowa,” Pugh said. “It’s very exciting, especially for our children to see the candidates and hear what they have to say.”

Pugh, who is undecided, was “just hoping to hear the candidates’ views.” Pugh’s 7-year-old son Cordell, however, already seemed to have his mind made up. “I like Edwards and Hillary Clinton,” he said.

John Edwards was the first of the four candidates to arrive, and was greeted by a large crowd of supporters as he got off his bus in front of the stadium. The crowd accompanied Edwards as he made his way out onto the field and proclaimed “We need change: change in Washington, change in America. We need change in the worst kind of way.”

Edwards told the crowd that when it comes to the issue of health care in this country, “the only answer is universal health care coverage.”

Edwards also discussed the situation in Iraq, asking the crowd “Don’t you think it’s finally time for the President of the United States to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war?”

Hillary Clinton, the obvious crowd favorite, entered from the rear of the stadium and was welcomed by thunderous applause. Sen. Clinton greeted the crowd by announcing, “I’m so happy to be in Clinton. I feel really at home here. And to be on a minor league baseball field, that just makes it even better.”

Sen. Clinton vowed to help foster energy independence, begin dealing with global warming, and fix No Child Left Behind, if elected.

Sen. Clinton proclaimed, “I am thrilled to be running to be the first woman President of the United States,” but added “I’m not running because I’m a woman, I’m running because I feel I’m the best qualified to hit the ground running.”

Bukta, who introduced each of the candidates as they came onto the field, felt the fundraiser was a success.

“I like the festive atmosphere,” Bukta said. “Everybody’s happy, everybody’s excited, the music is playing. It’s just a great event.”

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