Democratic debate: 10 candidates discuss immigration, gun control, health care in first night
MIAMI - The Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 cycle kicked off Wednesday with 10 of the 25 candidates taking the stage to discuss gun reform, immigration, health care and President Donald Trump.
The debate, which is split between two nights because of the number of candidates running, took place in Miami and was hosted by NBC News.
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The candidates for this debate were Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Amy Blobuchar, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Rep. Tim Ryan, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former Rep. John Delaney, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and ex-Obama housing secretary Julian Castro.
Within 16 minutes of the debate’s start, Trump’s name was uttered by Klobuchar regarding a question over U.S. tensions with Iran.
“I don’t think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at five in the morning,” she said.
At some point, Trump tweeted “BORING!” regarding the debate. The president left earlier Wednesday from the White House to Osaka, Japan for the G-20 summit.
Following questions regarding the economy, Warren said it is working well for a small sliver of the population, including “giant oil companies,” but not for most Americans who continue to struggle.
During discussions around health care, Warren said she supports “Medicare for All,” which is a plan popularized by fellow presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders. O’Rourke said he supports “Medicare for America,” which, he explained, would allow people who are happy with their insurance can keep it if they want.
On the subject of immigration, Castro said a photo of an immigrant father and his toddler daughter lying face-down after drowning in the Rio Grande River was “heartbreaking” and “should piss us all off.” The photo, which surfaced Tuesday, has circulated on social media, prompting many people to blame the Trump administration for those deaths because of its tough immigration policies.
Before the second hour of the debate began, technical difficulties caused a quick delay as debate moderators Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd took over from Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie and Jose Diaz-Balart.
Trump tweeted about the difficulties, saying NBC News and MSNBC should be “ashamed of themselves for having such a horrible technical breakdown in the middle of the debate.” He went on to call the outlets “fake news.”
The second hour of the debate started off with the subject of gun reform. Since the debate took place in Miami, the 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, was referenced by the moderators as they asked about how each candidate feels about gun control.
Booker said he lives in a neighborhood where shootings are common and that he supports gun licensing.
Warren said the toughest question she’s faced on the campaign trail has been from young kids asking how she can keep them safe. She said the country needs to “double down” on researching how to reduce gun violence.
One of the final topics, climate change, appeared to be a unifying subject for most of the candidates. Inslee said his state of Washington provided a “gold standard” on the issue and that he's the only member of the Democratic Party to make global warming his top priority.
Castro vowed to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, while Delaney said he appeared to be the only person who introduced a bipartisan carbon tax bill in Congress.
The candidates were given just 45 seconds to provide closing remarks.
The next debate is Thursday, and can be viewed on NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo as well as online platforms starting at 9 p.m. until 11 p.m. ET.
Thursday’s debate will feature former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Indiana, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, author Marianne Williamson and businessman Andrew Yang.
The candidates qualified to participate in the first and second debates by having at least 65,000 donors contribute to their campaign, with a minimum of 200 donors from at least 20 different states, according to PBS. Candidate also qualified if they received “1 percent support in three DNC-approved polls.”
The two-night debate is the first of six scheduled for 2019.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.