The 2020 democratic debate kicked off tonight with Elizabeth Warren, Bill de Blasio, Julián Castro, Tim Ryan, Cory Booker, Beto O'Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, John Delaney, Jay Inslee and Tulsi Gabbard. Some candidates shined, while others seemed caught off-guard in both answers and rebuttals.
Senator Elizabeth Warren was the first speaker and among the top three for most speaking time along with Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke. Warren captivated the crowd with her clear passion for the election as well as her policies. While her passion was evident, the explanation of the policies backing her passion in this debate were left on the backburner.
Policy was an area where Julián Castro, former housing secretary under President Barack Obama, shined in this debate. In one of the only spars of the debate, Castro went head to head with Beto O’ Rourke over policy repeal for “Section 1325.”
Castro challenged O’Rourke for not endorsing repeals to the Title 8 code that makes “illegal entry” to the United States a misdemeanor and encouraged the rest of the candidates to join in on repealing this section.
A great deal of his emotional concern on Section 1325 stemmed from a photograph Castro discovered of a father and daughter who died trying to cross the Mexican border through the Rio Grande.
“It’s heartbreaking and it should piss us all off," Castro said.
Among immigration rights, this policy-driven debate also heavily focused on gun control, health care, abortion and the economy.
Much of the debate seemed to be an agreeance on policy with slight tweaks from candidate to candidate on what should be at the forefront of priority in the 2020 election year.
Washington governor Jay Inslee, in the cumulative four minutes and 52 seconds of speaking time he received, stressed his concerns regarding climate change.
“I decided that on my last day on Earth, I wanted to look [my grandchildren] in the eye and tell them I did everything humanly possible to protect them from the ravages of the climate crisis,” said Inslee in his closing statement.
He also added that he is the only candidate to have made climate change a top priority in his campaign.
Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district since 2013, voiced his thoughts on foreign affairs policy, more specifically war in the Middle East.
In the second and seemingly only other clash of the evening, Gabbard stated Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan’s approach to the war in Afghanistan was “unacceptable.”
Ryan stated it is important for the United States to maintain military presence in other countries in reference to Afghanistan and Iran.
Gabbard, Iraq War combat veteran, then reaffirmed her position on withdrawing from Afghanistan and ending the war.
“The Taliban was there long before we came in. They’ll be there long before we leave.” Said Gabbard.
Ryan responded, “When we weren’t in there, they started flying planes into our buildings”
Gabbard corrected Ryan by pointing out that the Taliban was not at fault for 9/11, it was in fact Al Qaeda.
Another hard-hitter was Senator Amy Klobuchar on economic reasoning behind policy changes. One major concern expressed was “kicking half of Americans off of health insurance in four years,” in reference to the Senate’s Medicare for All bill.
This is a bill in which private insurers would be eliminated within a four-year transition period. Instead, Americans would be in a government-run plan which would cover medical necessities.
When asked, “Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan, just a show of hands?” by Lester Holt, NBC nightly news anchor, only Warren and Mayor Bill de Blasio raised their hands.
In contrast, another concern regarding health care came from Senator Cory Booker. He pointed out that not only big pharmaceutical companies are profiting from the health care industry. Insurance companies are as well.
Booker also voiced his opinion on large corporations such as Amazon and Halliburton that are “paying nothing in taxes.” Booker also addressed tax cuts over the last decade that have largely benefitted these companies. He stated these same tax breaks are only adding to the large pay disparities facing our county and the negative effects on small business.
Although major corporations and the economy were not the heat of the debate, many of the questions sparked controversy on a variety of topics, including current President Donald Trump.
In the closing statements, Castro finished with “On January 20, 2021, we will say adios to Donald Trump.”
Inslee chimed in, “The biggest (geopolitical) threat is Donald Trump. No question about it.”
Discussion of Trump was sprinkled throughout the debate while Democrats conceptualized their plans and goals for the country moving forward.
On the wide variety of topics each candidate was given to discuss, the Democrats on stage appear to agree with one another on most all of them. From health care to immigration reform, the Democrats are all walking along the same lines of progressive planning and reform.
The next Democratic debate will take place on Thursday June 27 at 9 p.m. EST.