Well, here we go again; although today, I’m setting up some of this in advance and trying to get the hang of this live blogging thing. If the format is consistent with last night, the moderators for the first round will be Savannah Guthrie from the Today Show, Lester Holt, anchor of The NBC Nightly News and Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart.
Tonight’s line up includes the following candidates: Former Vice-President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, California Senator Kamala Harris, Mayor of South Bend Indiana Pete Buttigieg, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, Best Selling Author Marianne Williamson, Representative Eric Swalwell, Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. The qualifying candidates were randomly assigned to the two nights and only one of the five leading candidates appeared last night, namely Elizabeth Warren. Biden, Sanders, Harris and Buttigieg are all in tonight’s debate. It may be as cordial as last night’s gathering, but I’d expect to see more fireworks. We’ll see.
I’ll be back at 9:00 this evening.
8:58 pm. I’m back and here we go.
Lambchop (Chris Hayes) says Trump is president, so anyone could be president. All bets are off.
The first question if for Sanders: will taxes go up for the Middle Class in a Sanders Administration? Sanders: People will be paying less for health care, we have to eliminate student debt. More in taxes and less in health care.
For Biden, you said nothing will fundamentally change. Biden the Middle Class built America. We have to return dignity to the middle class. We need to eliminate the Trump Tax Cuts.
Harris: Where were the questions about paying for proposals when we passed the Trump Tax cuts? It sounds like she’s proposing universal basic income for poorer Americans. That’s news I think.
Hickenlooper: I’ve done big progressive things.
Will nominating a socialist re-elect Trump? Sanders: I’m 10 points ahead of Trump and we need to expose him for the fraud he is.
Gillibrand: We want healthy capitalism, not corrupted capitalism.
Bennett: Against Medicare for all. Add a public option to the ACA.
Buttigieg: I believe in free college for needy Americans but not for the children of millionaires. We need it to be affordable not to go to college.
Swalwell jumped in out of turn.
Yang: A value added tax could pay for Universal Basic Income.
Swalwell: We must be a nation where technology creates more jobs than it destroys. Direct shot at Biden. Pass the torch.
Biden: We need to invest more in education. Free community college. Freeze student debt interest for people making less than $25,000.
Saunders: We need someone willing to take on Wall Street etc.
Harris got a lot of applause for some pretty basic stuff.
Gillibrand: We need to transition to single payer.
Buttigieg: I would start with “Medicare for all who want it.” It will outcompete the Corporate sector. Medicare kept our family out of Bankruptcy.
Biden: Fastest way to universal health care is building on the ACA.
Sanders: Every other major country has figured out Universal Health care. We can too. The insurance companies are focused on profits. He dodged the question here.
Williamson: We won’t beat Trump just with plans. We don’t have health care in America, we have sickness care.
Bennet: The ACA is the quickest way to universal care. A public option would be Medicare for all for those who have it.
Sanders: Medicare is the most popular medical system.
Harris and Swalwell are talking over each other.
Would your health care plan cover undocumented people? Every hand up.
Buttigieg: The country is healthier when everyone is healthier. Then he segued to immigration.
Biden: Jail insurance executives who lied about opioids.
Lots more talking over each other and more digs at other candidates tonight. These guys may see the stakes being higher. Does it help Warren that she was able to float above the crowd last night?
Harris: On day one I will reinstate DACA and their parents. Will release children from cages. She has a boisterous group of supporters in the audience. Trump’s policies are contrary to American values.
More digs at Trump tonight I think.
Hickenlooper likens Trump’s family separation policy to kidnapping. ICE has to see their mission differently.
Williamson uses the term child abuse. These are crimes. Trump is attacking a basic American principle.
Gillibrand: Trump is tearing apart who we are. Lots of specifics on immigration. Don’t transfer funds to for profit prisons.
Buttigieg: The GOP cloaked itself in Christianity we must call out hypocrisy. Big applause.
Biden: the Obama administration lessened the number of refugees; Trump got rid of the policy. Deport illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. Keep refugees safe until they can get a hearing.
Saunders: Day 1, reverse every damn executive order Trump has made in this region.
Swalwell: Immigrants can contribute to America.
Harris: I was tracking deportation as AG of CA and disagreed with the Obama administration.
How would you stand up to China? Bennet: Mobilize nations to oppose their trade policy. Raging against the wall.
Yang: Russia has been laughing their asses off for the last two years. The tariffs are not productive.
Buttigieg: China is using technology to perfect authoritarianism. It’s a big threat we must address.
After the commercial break, we have MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Meet the Press’s Chuck Todd as moderators. Meanwhile, there’s a Charles Manson movie coming.
10:00 pm, Round 2:
The first question to Mayor Pete: We took many steps to prevent the police shooting in South Bend. We must make it work. Everyone should feel the same way when approached by a police officer.
Williamson: We need slavery reparations.
Harris: This issue still isn’t being discussed honestly. It was hurtful when Biden said favorable things about segregationists. This cannot just be a philosophical discussion among democrats.
Biden: I did not praise racists. I was a public defender. As VP we worked with these issues in a major way. I ran because of civil rights and those must include the LGBT community. I didn’t oppose busing, I opposed busing ordered by the Department of Education.
Sanders: We encourage diversity; that’s what America is about. How come, today, the middle class is making no more than they did 40 years ago? We need someone to stand up to the powerful special interests.
Bennet: Gridlock will not magically disappear as long as Mitch McConnell is there. The Democrats must win the senate. We also need to oppose gerrymandering.
Biden: You can’t always have bipartisanship. Sometimes you have to beat them.
Gillibrand keeps hitting on corruption. The GOP had to pass the tax cuts to pay back their donors.
What if Roe v Wade is struck down during your presidency?
Sanders: I will nominate no judges that will overturn Roe.
Gillibrand: Reproductive rights are under assault. I have been the fiercest advocate for reproductive rights.
Harris: Trump supports Science Fiction over Science Fact. Not wild about the metaphor.
Buttigieg: We need to begin adapting to Climate Change and have definitive action to slow it. Climate change is happening everywhere. With soil management, the Midwest can be a part of the solution.
Hickenlooper: I’m a scientist, I share the sense of urgency. Socialism isn’t the solution.
Biden: We can control carbon emissions without congress. We should be an exporter of the green economy and build the infrastructure for electric cars.Sanders: The POTUS must lead the world away from fossil fuels.
- Williamson: Evoking JFK, not sure what her point is. What is your first issue?
- Swalwell: Gun Violence.
- Bennet: climate change.
- Gillibrand: family bill of rights.
- Harris: working families tax cuts.
- Sanders: political revolution.
- Biden: Defeat Donald Trump.
- Buttigieg: fix democracy.
- Yang: UBI.
- Hickenlooper; Climate change.
- Williamson: something about the prime minister of New Zealand.
Swalwell: Keep you pistols, rifles and shotguns. Forced of buyback all assault weapons.
Sanders: We have a gun crisis. We need comprehensive gun legislation including standard things.
Harris: Give Congress 100 days to Bill or executive orders.
Buttigieg: every part of my life informs my position. If more guns made us safer, we’d be safe. There are weapons with no place on the street. Ever.
Biden: I’ve passed gun legislation. No guns should be sold except smart guns.
What are important steps toward reversing the legacy of Trump? Bennet: we have to restore democracy and our relations with other countries.
None of these guys can give short answers. Okay, Harris did.
Biden: I was responsible for getting 150,000 combat troops out of Iraq. The use of force resolution should have been aimed at terriorists. That’s exactly what Bob Graham said at the time.
Sanders: War with Iran would be worse than war with Iraq. I will make sure it doesn’t happen. It might be too late by then.
Closing statements now.
Williamson sounds like a self-help book.
I think Hickenlooper is out of step with the party.
Yang: Trickle up economy.
Lots of platitudes.
Buttigieg is pretty good.
Saunders is on his greatest hits but strong and combative.
Biden is aimed straight at Trump.
I think this group was stronger on average than last night with the exceptions of Williamson and Swalwell. This was combative. Hickenlooper was fixed on being anti-socialist and a couple of people were focused on the pass the torch message. Harris may have had the moment of the night hitting Biden hard on race. I thought he came back well but the pundits disagree. Strong performance by Buttigieg, but there’s no clear winner tonight the way I think Warren won last night. I think she will benefit from having had less competition last night.
This primary season will have problems if the number of candidates doesn’t get smaller; if you have 24 candidates someone could theoretically win with 5%. This could get winnowed down 5 or 6 really strong candidates. The rules of the Democratic Party assign votes proportionally . I can easily see this ending in a brokered convention.
Speaking of Bob Graham, there he was in the audience, saying hello to Biden.
- Everything You Need to Know About the Democratic Primary Debates
- Who’s In and Who’s Out of the First Debates
- Photo Credit: Travis Dove for The New York Times