Top Democratic candidates for president gathered on Wednesday night in Georgia to debate their respective qualifications for office, all under the shadow of ongoing impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives.
But while they took the time to address President Donald Trump’s conduct and wrongdoing, they didn’t let his issues dominate the night. They addressed a wide range of topics and managed to largely avoid the circular fights that have bogged down many previous debate
Here are seven moments that stood out:
1. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) addressed the central role black voters have in the Democratic Party.
“For too long, candidates have taken for granted constituencies that have been the backbone of the Democratic Party,” she said. “They show up when it’s close to election time and show up at a black church.”
Kamala Harris: "For too long, candidates have taken for granted constituencies that have been the backbone of the D… https://t.co/tu5zPrkjQC— Axios (@Axios)1574307608.0
2. Biden on chants of “lock him up”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea that we model ourselves after Trump and say ‘lock him up,’” Biden said. “Look, we have to bring this country together. Let’s start talking civilly to people.”
He said that it would be up to the attorney general he would appoint to determine if any charges against Trump were warranted.
3. Mayor Pete Buttigieg tried to turn his experience into an asset.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) challenged Buttigieg for his lack of experience in federal government. He responded by saying that there was more than 100 years of experience in Washington on the stage — and it brought us to this point. He said the experience of local government could be an asset in the White House.
4. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said being against the president isn’t enough to win in 2020.
“We cannot simply be consumed by Donald Trump, because if we are, you know what?” he said. “We’re going to lose the election.”
We must deal with Trump's corruption, but we also have to stand up for the working people of this country.… https://t.co/M1kHwqlTRE— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1574302211.0
5. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on ambassadors
She said she would stop giving “away ambassador posts to the highest bidders,” citing the impeachment hearing testimony earlier in the day of Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who features centrally in the Ukraine scandal.
6. “Donald Trump got punked.”
Discussing Trump’s disastrous and devolving diplomacy with North Korea, Kamala Harris said Trump has been “punked.”
WATCH: Sen. Harris says President Trump "got punked" by Kim Jong Un. #DemDebate https://t.co/oljpmu0Xyj— MSNBC (@MSNBC)1574306263.0
7. Steyer brought up climate change as his top priority.
“It’s a state of emergency and I would declare a state of emergency on day one,” he said.