Transcript for 2020 presidential candidates sound off on how to tighten gun laws
deadly mass shootings, gun control is a key focus on the campaign trail. Democratic hopefuls criticizing president trump and calling for change. ABC's senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce is in Des Moines at the Iowa state fair with what the candidates are saying and how the president is fighting back. Mary, good morning. Whit, good morning. Here in Iowa the candidates are making their pitches, but front and center is the debate over the president's rhetoric and what can be done to curb the gun violence. Back in Washington the president is signaling he too wants to see gun reforms. Reporter: Overnight the 2020 candidates doing a round of political speed dating with Iowa voters. Hello Iowa Democrats. Reporter: Making their pitches to a packed room. We will not defeat trump unless we have the courage to take on the powerful corporate interests. Reporter: And taking on president trump. There is no national security when we don't have racial justice, let alone when we have a president coddling white nationalists. Reporter: One after another the candidates sounding off against president trump's rhetoric. Donald Trump offers no moral leadership. Let's call this what it is. This is white nationalism. This is white supremacy. We're not going to buy what he's trying to sell. We know dude got to go. Dude got to go. Reporter: After the horrific shootings in Dayton and El Paso the candidates are promising We need Americans that will stand up with faith in our country, faith in our ideals and come together again and stand together and work together and love together and overcome his darkness with our light. Reporter: They're demanding action. We need gun reform in the United States of America and we need it now. People are dying on the streets of this country, getting killed by weapons that were made for battlefields. Reporter: Back in Washington under growing pressure, the president is now publicly calling for stricter background checks. There's been no president that feels more strongly about the second amendment than I do. However, we need meaningful background checks so that sick people don't get guns. Reporter: Now the president says he can get both the gun lobby and Republicans on board with stricter background checks, but that is still a big remaining question. Senator Republican leader, Mitch Mcconnell now signaling he's open to considering new legislation. He's also not calling law makers back to Washington to tackle this. That's a big part of the question. Mary, this is a gun safety forum in Iowa today. Many democratic candidates are pointing out president trump has made comments like this before. Reporter: The president now saying he wants to see meaningful background checks, but he's also threatening to veto background check legislation that's been sitting on Mitch Mcconnell's desk since February. We've seen the president make symmetricals like this in the past, only to walk them back a few days later. Today Democrats will be outlining their plan to take on this issue. Many candidates say they're not going to hold their breath for the president to enact change. Mary Bruce on the trail in Iowa. Thanks so much. Tom? Let's bring in Rick Klein to talk about the race for president. Rick, the race took a turn this week as far as rhetoric is concerned. Some of the Democrats elevating their attacks on president trump calling him a white supremacist. A major escalation to have presidential candidates say that not just the president courts white supremacists but is a white supremacist. We haven't seen this thing said about a presidential candidate in decades. There's a bit of a backlash brewing. We've seen Joe Biden and kamala Harris saying I'm going to say the words directly. They're worried about saying it, but it's a harsh label to supply and it may be one that trump supporters push back with. There are a lot of trump backers that say I'm not a white supremacist. Using that kind of language carries risks. Joe Biden was making headlines for something he said about poor children and race. The campaign said he quickly corrected himself. Mayor de Blasio said not so this seems to be a problem with the vice president, these slip ups. That's what you get with Joe Biden. It's been said about him that his tongue moves faster than his head. You'll hear language from him that's a gaff. It's interesting to see if Democrats pick up on it. Like do blaze de Blasio, do you make this an issue? We've been out there with Biden and other candidates. Doesn't seem like his supporters care. They know you'll get some things that are slips of the tongue. His standing in this race has been steady. There's been no shaking his front-runner status. Our team says his supporters are so fired up at his rallies. Rick, great to have you here.
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