FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2007, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and his wife Ann, flip pork chops in the Iowa Pork Producers tent at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. The state fair, a quadrennial presidential prerequisite stop, is a cultural obstacle course more fraught with pitfalls than opportunities to sway the narrow band of voters who will attend the kickoff caucuses in less than six months. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Fried Oreos here: Iowa State Fair a must for 2020 hopefuls

August 08, 2019 - 12:20 am

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — It's time for the Iowa State Fair, home of deep-fried everything, a dish called "hot beef sundaes"— and every four years, presidential candidates.

Starting Thursday, more than 20 Democratic White House hopefuls will navigate the festival of nutritionally questionable snacks as well as flocks of media as they try to look presidential and also at ease with the folkways of Middle America. It's all aimed at swaying the narrow band of voters who will attend the state's kickoff caucuses in less than six months.

What a candidate eats is often the most scrutinized, if certainly visual, image at the fair.

Offerings such as bacon-wrapped corn dogs pose challenges for vegetarian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who keeps vegan.

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