Tuesday night quickly turned into Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren versus the field as desperate, low-polling candidates sought to break out of the pack by targeting the top candidates on stage.
Sanders and Warren found themselves the targets of the more moderate candidates on stage, who were eager to contrast themselves and their visions for the country with the most progressive candidates running for president this cycle on issues ranging from health care to immigration.Story Continued Below
Here’s a look at the key moments of the two-hour debate on CNN:
Sanders to Delaney: ‘You’re wrong’ on Medicare for All
Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney used his opening statement to bash Sanders’ and Warren’s progressive policies, branding them as a surefire way to cost Democrats the general election in 2020.
“Folks, we have a choice,” Delaney said. “We can go down the road that Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren wanna take us with bad policies like Medicare for All, free everything and impossible promises that’ll turn off independent voters and get Trump reelected.” He went on: “Or we can nominate someone with new ideas to create universal health care for every American, with choice.”
Given a chance to respond, Sanders said to Delaney, “You’re wrong.” Sanders said he believes health care is a right, not a privilege, that he will fight for.
“I’m right about this,” Delaney shot back, advocating for a universal health care system that gives everyone basic coverage for free but doesn’t take away private health insurance.
Warren added that Democrats aren’t trying to take away health care from Americans. “That’s what the Republicans are trying to do,” she said. “And we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care.”
Dems battle over border policy
Warren and Sanders defended their positions on decriminalizing illegal border crossings. Warren said the current criminalization statute gives President Donald Trump the authority to separate children from their parents and detain people at the border.
“We need to continue to have border security, and we can do that. But what we can’t do is not live our values,” she said. “The point is not about criminalization. That has given Donald Trump the tool to break families apart.”
Sanders insisted that as president he would end Trump’s “demonization.”
“If a mother and a child walk thousands of miles on a dangerous path, in my view, they are not criminals,” he said. “They are people fleeing violence.”
He added that as president he would convene the entire hemisphere to discuss why people are willing to walk thousands of miles into the U.S. to flee their home countries.
Progressives versus moderates
The liberal and moderate candidates sparred over electability, arguing over which mold of candidate has the best chance of defeating Trump in November.
Sanders: “Well, the truth is that every credible poll that I have seen has me beating Donald Trump, including the battleground states of Michigan, where I won the Democratic primary, Wisconsin, where I won the Demoratic primary, and Pennsylvania.”
Hickenlooper: “I think if we’re gonna force Americans to make these radical changes, they’re not gonna go along. Throw your hands up! … You can’t just spring a plan on the world and expect it to succeed.”
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan: “I would just say Hillary Clinton was winning in the polls, too. To take a snapshot of the polls today and apply it 16 months from now, whenever it is, I don’t think is accurate.”
Warren: “There is a lot at stake, and people are scared. But we can’t choose a candidate we don’t believe in just because we’re too scared to do anything else. … I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”
Democrats respond to Trump on race
Democrats were asked to respond to Trump’s repeated attacks on minority lawmakers and community leaders, including a House committee chairman and four progressive congresswomen.
O’Rourke: “We’ll call his racism out for what it is and also talk about its consequences. … The very foundation of this country, the wealth that we have built, the way we became the greatest country on the face of the planet was literally on the backs of those who were kidnapped and brought here by force. The legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and suppression is alive and well in every aspect of the economy and in the country.”
Warren: “We need to call out white supremacy for what it is: domestic terrorism. And it poses a threat to the United States of America. We live in a country now where the president is advancing environmental racism, economic racism, criminal justice racism, health care racism. The way we do better is to fight back and show something better.”
Buttigieg: “As an urban mayor serving a diverse community, the racial divide lives within me. I’m not saying that I became mayor and racism or crime or poverty ended on my watch. But in our city, we have come together repeatedly to tackle challenges… Systemic racism has touched every part of American life from housing to health to home ownership.”
Buttigieg passes on age divide
CNN’s Don Lemon highlighted the age difference between Buttigieg, 37, and Sanders, 77. The two are the youngest and oldest candidates in the primary and stood beside each other on stage.
Buttigieg: “I don’t care how old you are. I care about your vision. But I do think it matters that we have a new generation of leaders stepping up around the world. I actually think it’s good that the prime minister of New Zealand’s gotten a lot of attention in Democratic debates. She’s masterful. She is younger than I would be when I take office. This is the kind of trend America might be leading instead of following, but only if it’s backed by the right vision. We can have great presidents at any age.”
Sanders: “Pete is right. It’s a question of vision. That’s what it is, whether you’re young, whether you’re old, whether you’re in between.”
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