On Wednesday night, the 2020 Democratic primaries finally got underway in earnest as 10 of the 20 candidates who had met the party’s eligibility criteria took to the stage in Miami for the first of two nights of debating.
Through a random draw, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was alone among the top candidates in early polling on night one. She squared off against former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, New Jersey Sen Cory Booker, Julián Castro–Obama’s former HUD Secretary–Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The stakes were low in one sense: There have been very few incidents in the history of televised debates where some dramatic exchange or a candidate’s demeanor moved the needle with voters. Neither occurred on Wednesday. And while the primaries have been raging on political Twitter for months, many typical voters won’t start paying attention to the race for months.
But in another sense, they couldn’t have been higher. These debates will help shape the media narratives of the race. They also present an important opportunity for some candidates who haven’t gained traction in early polls to show the political junkies, donors and party activists who tune into these events that they’re true contenders, and for others to kick-start moribund campaigns with some much-needed national visibility. While the next debate in July will be similarly wide-open, the lower tier candidates also have to look ahead to meeting the stricter criteria to be included in the third round of debates in August.
Here were some of the key moments of the evening.
Warren’s leadoff home run…
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) June 27, 2019
(She also finished the night strong.)
De Blasio says it’s about the soul of the party…
Overall, Wednesday’s debate was a civil affair, as early debates tend to be, and while the candidates differed over policy, they presented a relatively unified front overall.
New York’s Mayor wasn’t having it.
“It matters in this fight for the heart and soul of our party that we nominate a candidate who has seen the face of poverty and didn’t just talk about it, but gave people a $15 minimum wage.”
— CAP Action 🏳️🌈 (@CAPAction) June 27, 2019
The healthcare debate…
One of the more heated exchanges of the night came during one of the more detailed policy discussions. When asked for a show of hands from candidates who would “eliminate private insurance,” Warren and de Blasio’s hands went up.
Democratic candidates @BetoORourke @BilldeBlasio & @JohnDelaney debate eliminating private health insurance and Medicare-for-All at the first @NBCNews #DemDebate Watch live: https://t.co/P5J6FAHqqt pic.twitter.com/TyWEU0S3zm
— NBC News NOW (@NBCNewsNow) June 27, 2019
Trump’s catastrophic immigration policies…
They began with one of this week’s most tragic events…
Castro, Booker, O’Rourke and de Blasio mentioned Óscar Alberto Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, during questions on immigration pic.twitter.com/yzO3ByLybO
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) June 27, 2019
Castro and Beto then engaged in an intense but wonky exchange about immigration law.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke face off over immigration during the first Democratic presidential debate. pic.twitter.com/SdJ8FwSSf1
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) June 27, 2019
Booker says the issue of gun violence is personal…
Cory Booker has made gun violence prevention a cornerstone of his campaign, calling for federal licenses to purchase guns, making handguns easier to trace and repealing the law that insulates gun manufacturers from liability suits. On Wednesday, he said that seven people had been shot in his neighborhood in just the last week and the issue was personal.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 27, 2019
Tim Ryan also weighed in on school shootings…
We need to start dealing with the trauma that our kids have. We need trauma-based care in every school. pic.twitter.com/6oqQGmrmNg
— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) June 27, 2019
What to do about McConnell?
One of the better questions of the night was about how the candidates would overcome Republican obstruction if they should win the White House but not the Senate.
Does Senator Warren have a plan to “deal with” Mitch McConnell if she’s elected president with a Republican senate? “I do.” John Delaney and Corey Booker follow up with their own plans. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/39bE7FmjEH
— CNBC (@CNBC) June 27, 2019
Ryan and Gabbard go head-to-head over Afghanistan…
Should we stay or should we go?
Ryan: "We must stay engaged [in Middle East]."
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) June 27, 2019
Were there other moments that stood out for you? Tell us in the comments.
Rising star Warren weathers attacks at Democratic White House debate
Surging White House hopeful Elizabeth Warren faced a barrage of attacks from fellow Democrats at the party's fourth 2020 debate Tuesday, cementing her status as a frontrunner in the race to challenge Donald Trump.
The president himself loomed large as the dozen Democratic contenders trained their fire on him, calling for his impeachment and assailing a Syria troop pullout that Joe Biden slammed as "shameful."
"The impeachment must go forward," thundered Warren, the progressive senator who is neck and neck with former vice president Biden at the head of the 2020 nomination race -- a stance loudly echoed by her fellow Democrats on stage.
‘I don’t care’: Watch Kamala Harris shut down Chris Hayes for asking a dumb question about Trump
Sen. Kamala Harris shut down MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes during a post-debate interview on Tuesday evening.
Hayes questioned Harris about her call for Twitter to follow their terms of service and kick President Donald Trump off of the platform.
"Do you think he puts people’s lives in danger when he targets them in tweets?" Hayes asked.
"Absolutely," Harris replied.
"Do you think he knows that?" Hayes asked.
"Does it matter?" Harris replied.
"The fact is he did it. The fact is that he is irresponsible, he is erratic," she explained. "He is like a 2-year-old with a machine gun."
Democrats blast Trump and demand his impeachment at CNN debate
Democratic White House hopefuls united in searing condemnation of Donald Trump during their fourth debate Tuesday, saying the president has broken the law, abused his power, and deserves to be impeached.
From the opening moments, most of the dozen candidates on stage launched fierce broadsides against Trump over the Ukrainian scandal at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
"The impeachment must go forward," said Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is neck and neck with former vice president Joe Biden at the head of the 2020 nominations race.
"Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences," she thundered.