Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Live-blogging the second Democratic debate of 2020 (first night)

I'll be live-blogging the debate in this post. Keep reloading this post for more updates!

[Here's the transcript.]

This is the first of two nights for the second 2020 Democratic debate (counting each two-night broadcast as one debate). The debate in Detroit starts at 8 Eastern, and you can watch it online on CNN's website.

As usual, I'll be doing this without the benefit of a pause or rewind button. So any quotes in this post might not be perfect word for word, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate. (And I might go back later and make corrections.)

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

These are the 10 candidates for tonight:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
former Rep. Beto O'Rourke
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Gov. John Hickenlooper
former Rep. John Delaney
Rep. Tim Ryan
Gov. Steve Bullock
Marianne Williamson

The first two to walk onstage are Bernie Sanders and then Elizabeth Warren — she greets him very warmly: "Good to see ya!!!" This signals they won't be attacking each other tonight, as progressive frontrunners. Hickenlooper comes out a while later and has to walk around a lot to shake everyone's hands.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is sung, and all the candidates put their hands on their hearts — except Tim Ryan. Amy Klobuchar looks like she's having fun singing along. Pete Buttigieg, the only military veteran on the stage, has an extremely serious expression.

8:14 - Steve Bullock, the only candidate on the stage who wasn't in the last debate, trashes "that last debate": the candidates were more interested in "scoring points" than in speaking to everyday Americans. "I won 3 elections in a red state" — Montana.

8:17 - John Delaney starts his opening statement with a direct attack on "Senator Sanders and Senator Warren" for their "bad policies" like "Medicare for All." "My platform is about real solutions, not impossible promises."

8:18 - Tim Ryan's opening statement does a twist on President Donald Trump's catchphrase: "America is great, but not everyone can access America's greatness."

8:19 - John Hickenlooper, like Delaney, starts his opening statement with an explicit attack on Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, saying their approach was not supported by any of the 40 Democrats who flipped House seats in 2018. "I share their progressive values, but I'm a little more pragmatic."

8:20 - Amy Klobuchar joins in the same tone as Hickenlooper: "Yes I have bold ideas, but they are grounded in reality. I can win this. I'm from the Midwest."

8:22 - Pete Buttigieg says the problem is bigger than Donald Trump — we have to ask how he even got "within cheating distance of the presidency."

8:23 - Elizabeth Warren says any of the Democratic candidates would be much better than Trump, and she promises to work her heart out to support whoever it is.

8:24 - Bernie Sanders: "Half of the American people are living paycheck to paycheck, and yet 49% of all new income goes to the top 1%."

8:26 - Bernie Sanders is asked what he says to Delaney, who says supporting Medicare for All will just reelect Trump. Sanders: "You're wrong!" Sanders notes that they're close to Canada (they're in Detroit), and "when you go to a hospital in Canada, you come out with no bill at all." Delaney's dry rebuttal: "It'll underfund the industry."

8:29 - Elizabeth Warren chimes in: "We are Democrats! We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone! That's what Republicans are trying to do, and we should stop using Republican talking points to talk to each other about what to do with health care."

8:31 - Warren sums up the problem with private health insurance: "Their model is: take as much money as you can in premiums, and pay as little as possible in health care coverage." Bullock dismisses Warren's policy as "wish-list economics."

8:32 - Buttigieg splits the difference, saying we don't need to "speculate" about which health-care policy is best, because "we can put it to the test with my Medicare for All Who Want It plan."

8:33 - Beto O'Rourke says Bullock is offering a "false choice," which hands Bullock a chance to talk more. I don't feel like Beto got much of a chance to speak to his views on health care, since moderator Jake Tapper constantly interrupted him.

8:36 - Klobuchar: "We need the public option. That's what Barack Obama wanted!" She says Bernie Sanders inconsistently called this immoral after supporting it last year, while CNN cuts to Bernie nervously gulping from a mug.

8:37 - Bernie Sanders attacks Jake Tapper for giving a "Republican talking point" to drug companies that they'll probably use in their ads during the debate tonight!

8:38 - Delaney boasts that he's the only candidate on the stage with experience in the health-care business, and "I don't think my colleagues understand the business." Bernie Sanders: "It's not a business!"

8:39 - The moderate Hickenlooper wants health-care reform to be "an evolution, not a revolution."

8:40 - Marianne Williamson says that while she admires Warren and Sanders on the health-care issue, she also hears what some of the more pragmatic candidates are saying: "I do have concern about what the Republicans would say." Buttigieg disagrees with Williamson: "It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans are going to say," since Republicans are going to call the Democrats "a bunch of crazy socialists" even if they completely agree with Republicans.

8:43 - After Bernie Sanders lists specific things that'll be covered for "senior citizens," including "hearing aids," Tim Ryan cuts in: "You don't know that!" Bernie shoots back: "I do know it! I wrote the damn bill!!!"

8:45 - Tim Ryan has another dry criticism of Bernie Sanders's health-care plan: "His math is wrong. That's all I'm saying. It's been well-documented." Then Ryan goes for the jugular: "I'm starting to think this is not about health care — this is an anti-private-sector strategy!"

8:47 - After a long discussion of health care, onto immigration. Buttigieg says he wants illegally crossing the border into the US to be a crime only "if fraud is involved."

8:48 - Beto strikes a conservative note on immigration: "I expect that people who come here follow our laws, and we reserve the right to criminally prosecute them if they do not."

8:49 - Warren would "decriminalize" border crossings "to take away the tools that Donald Trump has used to break up families."

8:50 - At one point Klobuchar slurs her words so much I can't understand what she's saying. This is unfortunate given how little time she's getting to speak.

8:52 - Bullock says: "The biggest problem that we have with immigration is Donald Trump." Even if that's true, it seems like a weak argument for a candidate to make, since that doesn't tell us how he'd be better than any other Democratic president — none of them would be Donald Trump. Oh, I see when he gets another chance to clarify: he's saying that's why we don't need to decriminalize border crossings. Elizabeth Warren comes back: "So what you're saying is: ignore the law!"

8:55 - Tim Ryan stakes out the center on immigration: "If you want to come into the country, you should at least ring the doorbell!"

8:56 - Bernie Sanders brings back health care in the immigration context: "When I talk about health care as a human right, that applies to all people in this country."

8:59 - Onto guns. After Buttigieg's answer, Hickenlooper makes a seemingly bold statement — "This is the fundamental nonsense of government!" — but I'm not clear on what he's referring to. I don't know if he's attacking Buttigieg or agreeing with him.

9:02 - Gov. Bullock of Montana is asked how we can trust him on gun control when he just flip-flopped to a more liberal position last year. "Like 40% of American households, I'm a gun owner." But his nephew was shot to death on a playground.

9:04 - Bernie Sanders: "Nobody up here is going to tell you they have a magical solution to the crisis" of shootings. But didn't Beto just say he ... has a magic solution?

9:06 - On guns, Marianne Williamson says "we need a constitutional amendment," presumably to repeal the Second Amendment. And she doesn't trust the other candidates on the stage — we need to "start over with people who have not taken donations from any of these corporations."

9:12 - After a commercial break, Hickenlooper is saying Bernie Sanders's platform would be like Fed Ex-ing the election to Trump. Instead, the focus should be on Trump's incompetence: "Donald Trump is malpractice personified." Bernie Sanders points out that he won the 2016 primaries in Michigan and Wisconsin — 2 of the 3 states that ended up being decisive in electing Trump.

9:15 - Beto tries to shift the focus in the electability discussion: "There's a new battleground state: Texas."

9:17 - Elizabeth Warren denies that when she says she's "a capitalist," she means to imply she'd be more electable than Bernie Sanders.

9:19 - Elizabeth Warren has a memorable retort to Delaney's pragmatic line: "I don't understand why anybody goes to the trouble of running for the President of the United States just to talk about what we can't do and shouldn't fight for!" [ADDED: The New York Times asks if that's the "line of the night."]

9:20 - Bernie Sanders is the only one talking about the city they're in: "Detroit was almost destroyed by awful trade policy."

9:22 - Klobuchar: "We are more worried about winning an argument than winning an election."

9:24 - Delaney seems to have been getting more time to talk than the more popular Beto O'Rourke. Are the moderators feeling sorry for Delaney because of rumors his campaign is on the verge of collapse?

9:30 - I hope when I'm 77 years old, I'm vigorous and energetic enough to be yelling at the top of my lungs for 2 hours like Bernie Sanders. (When I was in the middle of writing that, Tim Ryan told Bernie: "You don't have to yell!")

9:33 - Bernie Sanders gets down to earth: "Ain't nobody in Congress who's more pro-worker than I am!"

9:35 - Amy Klobuchar on water contamination in Flint, Michigan: "I was just in Flint, and they are still drinking bottled water, and that is outrageous." On infrastructure, "you need a voice from the heartland."

9:39 - Beto calls out President Trump for racial rhetoric: "It is changing this country. Hate crimes are on the rise."

9:42 - Buttigieg is asked about the perception that he has problems with racial issues. He starts with what seems to be a carefully prepared line: "As an urban mayor serving a diverse community, the racial divide lives within me."

9:45 - Beto gets energized on the issue of race. He talks about how America has the world's strongest economy because it was "built on the backs of slaves who were brought here against their will," and he says he supports "Sheila Jackson Lee's reparations bill."

9:47 - Marianne Williamson, who supports reparations, is asked how she'd figure out what "assistance" should be given. She rejects that framing: "It is not 'assistance.' It is payment of a debt that is owed."

9:53 - Tim Ryan says the problem with Trump's approach to China is Trump has a "tactical" approach while China has a "strategy." China thinks 20 or 30 years in advance, while we're focused on a 24-hour news cycle.

9:57 - Beto says Trump's tariffs are "a huge mistake — they constitute the largest tax increase on the American consumer, hitting the working class and the working poor especially hard."

9:59 - Hickenlooper: "There is not a single example where a trade war had a winner. Trade wars are for losers." It seems like he has a plan for if he ever gets to debate Trump: tell Trump his policies are for "losers."

10:01 - I don't like when Buttigieg frames his policy views in terms of Christianity. He suggests Republicans are being un-Christian to oppose raising the minimum wage. That isn't the way to think rationally about economic policy.

10:04 - I'm inclined to agree with John Delaney that it would be better to increase the capital gains tax than to follow Elizabeth Warren's plan for a new "wealth tax." Delaney says the wealth tax would be challenged by lawsuits for years, and countries that have tried a similar policy have abandoned it. Warren has a weak response: she merely says it would be just a 2% tax on rich people's wealth over $50 million, which doesn't address Delaney's concerns about how it would actually work (or not work) in practice.

10:11 - Klobuchar is against some of the more extreme proposals to forgive student debt, which "would pay for wealth kids, for Wall Street kids, to go to college." She'd let people refinance their student debt.

10:12 - Bernie Sanders is asked how he's different from President Trump when they both say the US "shouldn't be the policeman of the world." Sanders on how he's different: "Trump is a pathological liar — I tell the truth!"

10:17 - Pete Buttigieg promises to leave Afghanistan in the first year of his presidency. "We are close to the first casualty in Afghanistan who was not yet born on September 11."

10:20 - Elizabeth Warren says we should announce a policy that the US will never be the first to use a nuclear weapon. Steve Bullock disagrees: "I wouldn't want to take that off the table." Warren looks stunned! Bullock then makes an emotional appeal to the city they're in: "I don't want to say, well, Detroit has to be gone before we would ever use that."

10:23 - Don Lemon asks Pete Buttigieg about the fact that he's the youngest candidate at age 37, and he's standing next to the oldest candidate, Bernie Sanders. (What about 89-year-old Mike Gravel?) The question is: "Does age matter?" Buttigieg has often talked about how we need "generational change," but he dodges the question: "I don't care how old you are. I care about your vision." For his part, Sanders says he'd help younger generations by making their student debt go away.

10:30 - Now onto the closing statements. Bullock seems a little drunk.

10:32 - Delaney says he has "big ideas like national service." Delaney has talked so much about being pragmatic and avoiding policies that are so extreme they'll turn off voters in the general election, but then he proposes this horrible idea.

10:36 - Hickenlooper's closing argument: "I'm as progressive as anybody up on this stage, but I'm also pragmatic. And I've done these things that other people have just talked about."

10:39 - Buttigieg says he has "good news and bad news." "First the bad news": "GDP is going up, and life expectancy is going down." Wait, is it bad that GDP is going up?

10:41 - Elizabeth Warren uses her closing statement to talk about going to a $50-a-semester college, which she ends up connecting to how her campaign is based on small donations.

10:42 - Bernie Sanders tells us about an unusual experience he had just two days ago: he took 15 people with diabetes from Detroit to Canada, and they bought insulin for a tenth the price they had been paying.


rcocean said...

If ever there's a contest for Head Rabble-Rouser - I vote for bernie!

rcocean said...

What happened to Beto? I thought he was the new RFK/JFK?

rcocean said...

Delany should drop out. Astounding he spent millions of his own money. Maybe he's made out of it. He never had a chance, so I assume he was running for a cabinet job or VP.

Ken B said...

Your mother liked that Warren quote too. It’s the epitome of why politics is broken: a tweet-sized oh snap! moment substituting for a reason or an argument.

Ken B said...

Will Beto be fact checked? Hate crimes were falling last I saw.

Ken B said...

Jeez. Delaney had been my forlorn hope.