Candidates try to stand out in crowded first debate
by Harvest Prude
Posted 6/27/19, 09:59 am
Ten Democratic presidential hopefuls took the stage in Miami on Wednesday night, striving to make their cases to voters in the first debate of the primary season.
Wednesday night’s lineup included Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former U.S. Reps. John Delaney of Maryland and Beto O’Rourke of Texas, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The other half of the field of candidates are set to face off Thursday night in a second debate.
Candidates had 60 seconds each to answer policy questions on healthcare, immigration, the economy, corporations, gun control, and taxes.
Many of the questions related to Warren’s policy proposals to overhaul the U.S. economy, education, and healthcare systems as moderators looked for daylight between the candidates’ positions. They all supported some form of universal healthcare but quarreled over specifics. When asked whether they would abolish private health insurance as an option, only Warren and de Blasio raised their hands.
The candidates wrestled more with how they would work with a Republican-held Senate than how they would unseat President Donald Trump. Some presented themselves as moderates. Both Klobuchar and Delaney said they would “get things done,” and Delaney said he would focus on solving problems with bipartisanship.
All of the candidates slammed the Trump administration’s policies on immigration and said they would not separate migrant families or detain children. Castro called the viral image of a Salvadoran father and his young daughter who drowned Monday in the Rio Grande “heartbreaking.” He and others expressed support for decriminalizing border crossings.
They were also in lock-step on one issue: None of the candidates expressed support for any legal protections whatsoever for unborn babies.
Gabbard was asked to explain whether LGBTQ individuals could trust her, given past opposition to homosexuality before her election to Congress. The candidate explained that her views had changed from when she “grew up in a socially conservative home” and “held views I no longer hold.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump gave his summary judgment on Twitter about half an hour in: “BORING!” He also needled NBC News and MSNBC for technical issues that caused them to take an unscheduled commercial break.
Thursday night is set to be the blockbuster night of the two, with four of the leading candidates taking part: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California, and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The stage Thursday will also include Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, writer Marianne Williamson, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. The debate will air from 9 to 11 p.m. EDT on NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.