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.
‘Kiss Florida goodbye’: Voto Latino head warns Democrats of coming 2020 debacle
Appearing on MSNBC's "AM Joy," Voto Latino CEO María Teresa Kumar said Democrats should not count on taking Florida's 29 electoral votes in the upcoming 2020 presidential election if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the at the top of the ticket.
During a fairly contentious panel discussion on the viability of Sanders as a candidate due to self-identifying as a democratic socialist, Kumar claimed that would not play well Florida's Latino community.
"All I can think about when David [Corn] was unpacking it for us, we can all agree is you can kiss Florida goodbye," she explained. "I say that, Floridians -- Latinos that have fled socialism, they have fled and they are in Florida and they have sensibilities that are different from the rest of the Latino community."
Intel official who briefed lawmakers on latest Russian meddling targeted for ouster by Trump White House: CNN
During a discussion on the war on the intelligence community being waged by the Donald Trump's White House, CNN host Victor Blackwell stated that sources speaking with the network stated that the intel official who briefed lawmakers for both parties on new efforts by Russia to meddle in U.S. elections could be on the way out.
Speaking with contributor Lynn Sweet, Blackwell asked about the so-called "purge" being conducted by the White House.
"It sends the signal once again that President Trump is not a respecter of the United States intelligence services with the bigger issue that a permanent director has not been in that office since last summer when Dan Coates was forced out," Sweet explained. "This is a key position, subject to Senate confirmation and Trump hasn't seen fit to have a permanent director for months now."
Trump’s latest national security adviser is undercutting FBI Director Wray to quash report of new Russian meddling: report
In a scorching column for the Daily Beast, historian David Rothkopf accused Donald Trump's latest national security director, Robert O'Brien, of undercutting the United States intelligence services and uses his comments about recent reports of new Russian election meddling to make the case that he is contradicting FBI Director Christopher Wray to please the president.
According to Rothkopf, "For just over a century, since America arrived as a major force on the global stage, we have feared that should our enemies defeat us, it would be on the battlefield or via a devastating nuclear onslaught. We never could have imagined that an enemy might take another approach altogether: infecting us with a presidential virus who this week gutted our national security leadership structures like a fish."