DES MOINES — It will be quite the convergence.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people will descend upon the same downtown Des Moines convention hall at the same time on Saturday for separate political events.
Running side-by-side throughout the day, the events will draw distinctly different political crowds to the same spot.
One event is the annual convention for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a populist community action group. That event’s keynote speaker is Bernie Sanders, the liberal, independent U.S. senator from Vermont who in 2015 and 2016 challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.
The other event is the Leadership Summit hosted by The Family Leader, a conservative Christian organization. Among the many conservative speakers slated for the event is Kellyanne Conway, the adviser to and spokeswoman for Republican President Donald Trump.
Both events are scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The CCI convention will be held in the Iowa Events Center; The Family Leadership Summit will be held in the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, which is housed within the Iowa Events Center complex.
Two crowds from polar opposite ends of the political spectrum converging on the same downtown Des Moines building at the same time.
The Family Leader’s event is being billed as “Principle Over Politics,” as attendees are encouraged to engage in government while “thinking bigger” than individual politicians or elections, according to the organization.
“It’s a rare opportunity when we in the Midwest get to hear from such an impressive lineup of speakers, and the summit’s themes couldn’t be more timely or needed today,” Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader, said in a news release.
With one of Trump’s top advisers and public defenders scheduled to speak at his event, Vander Plaats said this week that the recent revelation that the president’s son during the 2016 campaign met with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have unflattering information regarding Clinton has increased the suspicion of some Republicans.
“They’re not rushing to any sort of judgment, but their suspicion is heightened,” Vander Plaats told CNN.
Meantime, in the same building, CCI will be holding its event, billed as “Revolution Iowa: From Protest to Power.”
“(Saturday) will be a day when everyday Iowans from across the state will gather to build a future that works for all Iowans for generations to come. We’re our best hope for change,” Barb Kalbach, the group’s board president, said in a news release. “It will be a powerful day that will take the resistance of today to the political revolution for tomorrow.”
Sanders’ appearance at the CCI event is the first of two he has scheduled in Iowa this summer; he is scheduled to appear in Iowa City for a book reading in August. The appearances in the first-in-the-nation caucus state will fuel speculation that Sanders is considering another run for president in 2020.
During an interview this week on Sirius XM satellite radio, Sanders said it is too early to think about 2020, but he also declined to rule out another presidential campaign.
“I’m not taking it off the table,” Sanders said during the interview. “I just have not made any decisions, and I think it’s much too early.”