Election 2020 John Hickenlooper

Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper talks with fellow Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, right, during the Capital City Pride Fest, Saturday, June 8, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Nearly 20 Democratic presidential candidates — including Colorado's John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet — gathered in Iowa Sunday in n early effort to demonstrate potential in the leadoff 2020 caucus state.

It was to be akin to an afternoon-long political talent show, with 18 of the 24 declared Democratic hopefuls taking the stage for their strictly-enforced five-minute speeches to hundreds of party leaders at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual summer fundraiser, the Hall of Fame Celebration.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads in Iowa polls as he does nationally, was not scheduled to attend, giving the event the look of an audition for Biden's would-be key challengers heading into the summer campaign season in Iowa.

The event also came in the wake of Biden's reversal Thursday on a key abortion policy position. Biden now supports federal funding for abortion services after opposing it for decades.

That, and other parts of the former Delaware senator's long record, created an opportunity for the Sunday Democratic gathering's many devout abortion-rights supporters to dial up their so-far more muted criticisms of Biden to an influential audience.

Many of those attending have been traveling to Iowa for months and are hoping for a strong showing of supporters outside the convention center in Cedar Rapids, such as Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, in hopes of projecting momentum eight months ahead of the 2020 caucuses.

Hickenlooper, the former Colorado mayor, also made a appearance at a coffee shop in Mason City, Iowa, on Saturday and at the Capital City Pride Fest in Des Moines on Sunday.

Bennet, meanwhile, announced Thursday that he has hired Brian Peters, a former Indiana congressional campaign manager, to head up his operation in Iowa.

Colorado Politics contributed.

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