Sen. Obama was one of the Democratic candidates in Indianola on Saturday. Courtesy: CNN's Mike Roselli
INDIANOLA, Iowa (CNN) – Two of the Democratic candidates were noticeably missing Sunday at Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual Steak Fry.
But it wasn’t their choice–they weren’t invited.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel weren’t on stage with the rest of the Democratic pack for Harkin’s fundraiser.
In a press release sent out Saturday, Kucinich accused Iowa Democratic leaders of trying to “rig the game” by excluding him.
Kucinich added, “When party leaders and their allies pre-select which candidates they will allow the voters to hear, it’s a disservice to the voters.”
Harkin spokesperson Matt Paul said neither Kucinich nor Gravel was invited, for essentially one reason: a lack of Iowa organization.
“This is an event for Iowans,” Paul said. “It’s an event for Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, so the focus is campaigns, organizations, and Iowans that are involved here.”
“Last cycle was different, especially for Rep. Kucinich,” Paul continued. “He had staff here. He had resources here. [This cycle] he’s not been here except for the DNC debate. So we made the decision to focus on the candidates that have an Iowa infrastructure.”
The group of Democrats on hand included Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden.
All of the above except Richardson met together to walk with Harkin to the stage where they were to speak.
Richardson spokesperson Tom Reynolds said they chose to spend their time “talking to the caucus-goers.”
- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch