Thursday, June 27, 2019

Live-blogging the top-tier night of the first 2020 Democratic debate

The first 2020 Democratic debate continues tonight, with four of the five leading candidates on the stage, starting at 9 Eastern.

As I did last night, I'll be live-blogging the second night of the debate. Keep reloading this post for more updates!

Again, since I'll be doing this without a pause or rewind button, any quotes I write down might not be correct word-for-word, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate. (I also might go back later and make corrections.)

[Interactive transcript of the debate.]


My mom, Ann Althouse, is also live-blogging it.

You should be able to watch the debate live online at MSNBC.

Here are the 10 out of 20 candidates who are debating tonight (and here are the Wikipedia pages of all the candidates):


9:07 — Sen. Bernie Sanders is asked if taxes will go up under his administration. Without answering the question, he says the "vast majority" of Americans will be paying less for health care, and student debt will be relieved. "Every program I have put forward is fully paid for." The moderator asks again, and Sanders says "yes" — but it'll be made up for with health savings.

9:09 — Vice President Joe Biden is asked about his recent comments to rich donors that "we shouldn't demonize the rich," and "nothing would fundamentally change" in his administration. Biden says he'd "eliminate Donald Trump's tax cuts for wealthy."

9:12 — The moderator points out that Bernie Sanders is the only candidate on the stage who's called himself a "democratic socialist." Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper says Democrats should "clearly define that we are not socialists," so Republicans can't label them as socialists. "You can't promise everyone a government job! … You can't eliminate private health insurance for 180 million people, many of whom don't want to give it up."

9:13 — When asked about Hickenlooper's answer, Bernie Sanders points out that he's ahead of President Trump in the polls.

9:14 — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand cuts in without being asked a question, and seems to be trying to bridge the divide between the Bernie Sanders side and the more moderate (Hickenlooper) side.

9:15 — Sen. Michael Bennet says we need to enhance Obamacare with a public option, but looks at Bernie Sanders while pointing out that "Vermont rejected Medicare for All!"

9:17 — Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, says he's for "free college for low- and middle-income students" — but poor people shouldn't need to subsidize "the children of billionaires."

9:18 — Rep. Eric Swalwell jumps in without being asked a question, to say we need "a new generation" to address the student debt issue.

9:18 — Andrew Yang — wearing no tie! — is asked how he'd pay for his plan to give a universal basic income of $1,000 a month to every American adult. He says companies like Amazon are paying no taxes, and he'd fix this by creating a value-added tax (VAT), creating "a trickle-up economy." [VIDEO.]

9:21 — Swalwell talks about being 6 years old when Biden came to his school to say we need to "pass the torch" to a new generation. Biden comes back: "I'm still holding onto that torch!"

9:22 — After Biden answers a question about education, there's some wild, extended cross-talk among Buttigieg, Sanders, and Gillibrand. Finally, Kamala Harris plays the role of the parent stepping in to break up the fight: "America does not want to witness a food fight — they want to know how we're going to put food on their table!"

9:24 — They're all asked the same question from last night about whether they'd replace private health insurance with a government plan. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris raise their hands. Kirsten Gillibrand says she wouldn't do that right away, but she expects that we'd quickly transition to "single-payer" because government would out-compete private insurers.

9:27 — Biden says we need to "build on what we did with Obamacare," cleverly reminding us that he was Obama's veep. He talks about how important health care was to his family when "my wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident," and his sons were seriously injured; and he talks about his late son's cancer.

9:29 — Bernie Sanders promises to cut the costs of prescription drugs "in half."

9:31 — Marianne Williamson says she generally agrees with the other candidates on health care — but: "If you think we're going to beat Donald Trump with all these plans, you've got another think coming, because he didn't win by having plans; he won by saying make America great again!"

9:33 — Bennet mocks Bernie Sanders for saying private health insurance would be allowed only for "plastic surgery."

9:34 — Kamala Harris tells a moving story about a parent in the familiar situation of taking their child to the hospital with a high fever, but waiting in the car and thinking about the thousands of dollars they'll need to pay if they go through the hospital doors.

9:36 — All the candidates raise their hands to say their health-care programs would cover illegal immigrants.

9:41 — Kamala Harris is asked what "specifically" she would do with people trying to enter the US to apply for asylum. "I will release children from cages! I will get rid of private detention centers."

9:43 — Hickenlooper says ICE is "kidnapping" children. Williamson agrees and says it's "child abuse." "These are state-sponsored crimes."

9:46 — Gillibrand talks about how she'd reform immigration enforcement to be more "community-based."

9:47 — They're all asked if illegally crossing the border should be a "civil, not a criminal offense." I think everyone but Bennet raises their hands (though I might have missed someone else). Buttigieg points out that the criminal nature of the offense isn't just a technicality, but the basis for family separations. Buttigieg adds that Republicans give up any claim to be the party of religion if they think "God smiles upon" the family separations.

9:49 — Biden is asked about Obama's millions of deportations. He says "they should be deported" if they "committed a major crime." He doesn't directly address the millions of deportations, but simply asserts that Obama "did a heck of a job" and it's ridiculous to compare him to Trump. [Added: Reason rakes Biden over the coals for this.]

9:51 — Sanders would take his "executive-order pen" and "rescind every damn thing on this issue Trump has done."

9:52 — Swalwell flatly says that if someone's only offense is being in the country without documents, they shouldn't be deported. Biden hedged his answer to that question, saying that kind of person "shouldn't be a focus of deportation."

9:53 — Kamala Harris talks about how she resisted Obama's deportation policy when she was Attorney General of California. "I want a rape victim to be able to run out into the street and flag down a police officer without fear of being deported."

9:55 — Bennet starts his answer to a question on China in an unexpected way: "The president's been right to push back on China … but he's done it in the wrong way." Similarly, Yang says it's a "massive" problem that "China pirates our intellectual property," but "the tariffs and the trade war are the wrong way to go."

9:57 — Buttigieg tries to make his opposition to Trump's tariffs more personal by talking about how they're especially hurting soy farmers near him in the Midwest.

10:04 — Buttigieg is asked about a white police officer who shot a black man in South Bend. He admits he tried to fix police bias but didn't get the job done. "I have to look into his mother's eyes, and nothing that I say will bring him back." "I am determined to bring about a day when a black person driving a vehicle and a white person driving a vehicle, when they see a police officer approaching, feels the exact same thing: a feeling not of fear, but of safety." [VIDEO.]

10:07 — Swalwell tells Buttigieg: "The officer's body camera wasn't on? You should fire the chief of police." [Added: Mediaite's verdict on the debate sees this as a crucial moment:]
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, like Biden, did not get the job done. He not only didn’t shine, the pall over him regarding the events in his hometown over racial tensions and the police was noticeable. When Eric Swalwell, otherwise unremarkable in the debate, landed a blow saying Buttigieg should fire his police chief, he basically lost the whole night.
10:08 — Harris cuts in and says: "As the only black person on this stage, I would like to speak on the issue of race." She goes after Biden: "I do not believe you are a racist … but … it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two Senators who built their careers on the segregation of race in this country. You also worked with them to oppose busing." Biden calls this "a mischaracterization of my position across the board." He says busing decisions, including that Harris was bused, would have been made at the local level. "I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education." Harris scoffs at this, saying the feds had to step in when the states weren't integrating schools when they should. No matter who you agree with on substance, Harris seemed to win this back-and-forth on theatrics: she seemed personal and impassioned, while Biden looked dazed and kept falling back on what must seem to most viewers like procedural details. [VIDEO.]

[Added: My mom says: "Kamala Harris is doing pretty well, but I didn't like her yelling at Biden. She did kind of get under his skin though." I'm not sure if that's about the same thing as my 10:08 update.]

10:14 — Why voters should believe that with a new president, "gridlock will magically disappear," as candidates always promise. Bennet: "Gridlock will not magically disappear as long as Mitch McConnell is still the Senate Majority Leader." But Biden comes back: "I got Mitch McConnell to raise taxes, $600 billion!"

10:19 — Sanders makes the kind of statement about the Supreme Court that presidential candidates usually shy away from: "My litmus test is I will never nominate any Justice to the Supreme Court unless that Justice is clear that she or he will defend Roe vs. Wade."

10:22 — Gillibrand seems to be trying to have her moment with an impassioned speech on abortion rights: "I have been the fiercest advocate for women's reproductive rights for over a decade."

10:23 — Harris on climate change: "I don't call it 'climate change'; it's a climate crisis. This president has embraced science fiction over science fact."

10:24 — Buttigieg, who hasn't talked for a while now, gets specific on climate change: "I had to activate the emergency operation center of our city twice. The first time was a 1,000-year flood; the second time was a 500-year flood." (I'll have to check that quote for exact accuracy later.)

10:25 — Hickenlooper on climate change: "I'm a scientist, so I recognize that we're 10 or 12 years away from suffering irreversible damage."

10:27 — Rachel Maddow asks Biden if he can address climate change without any support from Congress. He lists the Obama administration's accomplishments: "We built the largest wind farm in the world.…"

10:29 — Biden cringes when Swalwell repeats his mantra: "Here's the solution: pass the torch!"

10:38 — Swalwell is asked about his "unique" proposal for a mandatory federal buy-back of every "assault weapon" in America. "I propose this as a parent, in a generation where we look at what our children are wearing as they go to school, in case we have to identify them later."

10:39 — Rachel Maddow asks Sanders about a past quote where he seemed to say guns should be decided by the states. Sanders: "That's a mischaracterization." Maddow: "It's a quote of you!"

10:41 — Harris makes it sound like she could adopt Swalwell's plan.

10:42 — Buttigieg talks about how being the only candidate with military experience informs his view of guns: "We trained on some of these kinds of weapons.… There are weapons that have absolutely no place in American cities in peacetime, ever."

10:44 — Biden: "We should have smart guns," with biometric measures on the trigger.

10:45 — Bennet seems to be vying to be the boringest, slowest candidate. "I appreciate … the candidates who are up here tonight."

10:46 — Chuck Todd asks which alliance has been most harmed by President Trump and which one they'd work on restoring first. Buttigieg: "We have no idea which are the most important allies he will have pissed off between now and then!"

10:48 — Biden is asked why we should trust him after he recanted his vote for the Iraq War. As usual, he focuses on what he did as Obama's Vice President. Biden also says Bush abused the congressional authorization Biden voted for … and I'm having flashbacks to John Kerry's 2004 campaign.

10:53 — Now they're doing closing statements. Swalwell: "I'm a father of a 2-year-old and an infant. When I'm not changing diapers, I'm changing Washington. Most of the time, the diapers smell better."

10:54 — Williamson: "Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk.… He's reached into the psyche of the American people, and he's harnessed fear for political purposes.… I'm going to harness love for political purposes … and love will win."

10:55 — Hickenlooper seems to have saved up his whole pitch till the end: "We expanded reproductive health to reduce teenage abortion.… We were the first state [Colorado] to legalize marijuana.… We got to near universal health care coverage."

10:56 — Gillibrand: "Women are on fire!"

10:57 — Yang says he'll build "a broad coalition" including "libertarians" — the only time they're mentioned by any of the Democratic candidates.

10:58 — Harris tries to convince us that she should be the nominee based on her prosecutorial background, saying she'll "prosecute the case against 4 more years of Donald Trump."

10:59 — I missed Buttigieg's closing statement because the dumb NBC News Roku channel interrupted to ask if I'm still watching.

11:00 — Sanders, seeming to draw inspiration from President Eisenhower, says he'll fight "the military-industrial complex."

11:01 — Biden goes last. He promises to "restore the soul of this country — the president has ripped it out." "This is the United States of America! We can do anything if we're together — together."

5 comments:

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Gawd.... These people hate us. I'm expecting a "Death to America" chant soon.

MikeR said...

I am so tired of politicians. It's like a really funny coincidence: On a hundred issues and asking a dozen candidates, the Democrats are right and Donald Trump is wrong, on every single issue. China, gun control, abortion - all completely correlated!
Republican politicians are no better. Maybe no one should vote for a candidate who can't answer the question, Name an issue where the other party's platform is better than your party's.

Danno said...

Great summaries of the candidates' positions.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Hair Sniffer Joe, Vice President of "The Resistance", chiding Americans to "come together"...
It'd almost be funny but for the nauseating stench of rank hypocrisy.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Democrat party members are fighting to completely disarm American citizens at the same time as they allow millions of unknown foreigners into our communities.

The democrat party is an existential threat to The United States Of America.