The six contenders for Labour's deputy leadership including Welsh Secretary Peter Hain attended a Cardiff hustings.
Peter Hain said they must ensure a Labour government in Wales
Around 300 Welsh party members were at the meeting to have their say before the vote at the end of the month.
Gordon Brown also set out his strategy and paid tribute to First Minister, Rhodri Morgan's leadership.
During Mr Hain's two-minute speech, the MP for Neath said the role of deputy leader should be at the heart of government.
"You can't do the job by slugging arrows at the prime minister from outside the cabinet," he added.
Asked about the dispute over nurses' pay, Mr Hain said the trust between government and unions needed to be built up.
He said on the one hand he did not want to destabilise the economy and let inflation run out of control, but on the other hand there was a need to recognise the demands of nurses for better pay.
In addition to Mr Hain the other contenders include Hilary Benn, Hazel Blears, Jon Cruddas, Alan Johnson and Harriet Harman.
The prospective candidates were all asked what advice would they give to Mr Morgan, who is just beginning his third term as assembly first minister.
Mr Hain said he thought he and the first minister had been a successful team over the past five years.
He added they had to make sure there was a Labour government in one form or another in Wales and asked whether people wanted to see Tory ministers in Wales.
Harriet Harman was among those taking part
Hazel Blears said the Mr Morgan needed to keep his "nerve" over the recent formation of a coalition government after the Welsh Assembly elections.
"The rainbow coalition will try to destabilise the Labour administration, we have got to expose the double dealing and the two facedness of Plaid and Tories and this will be revealed in the next few months," Ms Blears added.
Jon Cruddas said many areas of policy in Wales had been "pioneering" and used education and health as examples.
Harriet Harman said people recognised the work Labour had done in Wales and used the smoking ban in public places, which came into force in April and eradicating child poverty as examples.
Alan Johnson said his advice to Mr Morgan would be to discredit the Tories and expose Plaid Cymru.
Hilary Benn said Welsh Labour had a difficult election and that people feel bruised and battered.
His advice was to start campaigning now to win back the seats "politics is not about the past, it's about the future", he added.
Anti-war activists, Cardiff Stop the War Coalition, protested outside the hustings venue and Remploy supporters gathered signatures for a petition to keep the factories open.
Saturday's hustings follows events in Coventry, London, Bristol, Bradford, Leicester, Glasgow, Newcastle.