Democratic National Committee kicks off summer summit in San Francisco

The message "I will vote" was sprawled across the stage at the Democratic National Committee's gala banquet at The Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill Thursday night.

"Four-hundred thirty-nine days until a weekend," said DNC Chair Tom Perez, urging Democrats to help get more voters registered and help take back the White House and the Senate in 2020. "Everyone in this room is a serial activist. Our country is on fire. It's a five-alarm blaze." 

Two of the presidential candidates were featured speakers. 

"I hear the pollsters and the pundits say the most important thing Democrats want is to beating Donald Trump." said New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, "beating Donald Trump is the floor not the ceiling. "

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a Stanford graduate, is among the 13 candidates who are in town hoping to get donations and endorsements. 

Booker's speech had more personal stories than policy proposals. 

"This is a moral moment in America and it is a referendum on who we are," said Booker. 

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren also spoke.

"We have a chance to show what it means for Democrats to lead the country," Warren said, "When I lead the party it will not be the party that nibbles around the edges, it will be the fight for big structural change." 

Warren, who has resonated with many on the progressive side of the party has surged in some polls ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders who will be attending the DNC meetings Friday.

The Democratic party says their 2020 strategy is to  get voters energized early.

"One thing we learned from the 2016 election is we didn't engage voters early enough so our goal is to engage voters early on," said Xochitl Hinajosa, a DNC Spokeswoman.

Party activists already are engaged. The first day of the DNC business meetings Thursday got off to a rocky and raucous start.

Hundreds of environmental activists showed up at a meeting about whether the DNC should allow a presidential debate on climate change.

Protestors said it was a key issue that needed more time. But some DNC members said debate rules should not be altered to focus on one topic and the committee voted 17-8 against a climate debate. It could be taken up again on Saturday for the full committee to vote.

The candidates are expected to address the DNC Friday with some sending video clips to introduce themselves.