Democratic Debate 2019: Candidates tackle how combat racism and heal racial divide


Posted on: July 30th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

adamkaz/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Some 20 presidential primary contenders return to a pair of stages on Tuesday and Wednesday seeking a breakout moment at the second Democratic debates.

For the lower-polling candidates in the field, Detroit likely will be their last chance to impress a national audience. Here is how the night is unfolding.

9:47 p.m.: Marianne Williamson details her stance on reparations

After Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke said he would sign into law Sheila Jackson Lee’s reparations bill, Williamson responded, “I appreciate what Congressman O’Rourke has said.”

But she added, “It’s not $500 billion in financial assistance. It’s $500 billion, 200 to $500 billion payment of a debt that is owed. That is what reparations is … We need to recognize when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with.”

Her response was met by loud applause.

9:45 p.m. Beto O’Rourke spotlights the legacy of slavery in the country

“I want to acknowledge something that we’re all touching on which is the very foundation of this country, the wealth that we have built, the way we became the greatest country on the face of the planet was literally on the backs of those who were kidnapped and brought here by force,” O’Rourke said. “The legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and suppression is alive and well in every aspect of the economy and country.”

9:44 p.m.: Amy Klobuchar takes on Trump’s economic agenda and his bigotry

The Minnesota Senator was asked about how she would appeal to Trump voters who prioritize the economy over his bigotry, to which she replied:

“There are people that voted for Donald Trump before that aren’t racist, they wanted a better shake in the economy and so I would appeal to them. But I don’t think anyone can justify what this president is doing,” before adding, “Little kids literally woke up this weekend, turned on the TV and saw their president calling their city the town of Baltimore nothing more than a home for rats. And I can tell you as your president, that will stop.”

9:43 p.m. Mayor Pete Buttigieg defends his record dealing with race in South Bend, Indiana

“As an urban mayor serving a diverse community, the racial divide lives within me,” Buttigieg said. “I’m not saying that I became mayor and racism or crime or poverty ended on my watch. But in our city, we have come together repeatedly to tackle challenges like the fact that far too many people were not getting the help they needed in their housing and so we directed it to a historically underinvested African-American neighborhood.”

9:40 p.m.: Elizabeth Warren calls Gilroy shooting ‘domestic terrorism’

When asked a question about the rise of white supremacy after the shooting in Gilroy, California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said, “Call it out for what it is, domestic terrorism. We live in a country where the president is advancing environmental racism, criminal justice racism, economic racism, health care racism, the way we do better is to fight back and show something better.”

“I have a plan,” she added.

9:38 p.m. Race takes center-stage at the debate

Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke made his case for why he is the best candidate to heal the racial divide in America.

“We’ll call his racism out for what it is, and also talk about its consequences. It doesn’t just offend our sensibilities to hear him say send her back about a member of Congress because she’s a woman of color, because she’s a Muslim American, doesn’t just offend our sensibilities when he calls Mexican immigrants, rapists or criminals and seeks to ban all Muslims from the shores of a country that is comprised of people from the world over, from every tradition of faith,” O’Rourke said.

Hickenlooper weighed in saying, “The core value behind this entire country’s history is working towards a more perfect union, that all people are created equal, and we have fallen far away from that.”

“In Colorado, when I was mayor, we got to universal pre-k for every kid in the urban city. We did major police reform, ten years before Ferguson, why is it now that five years after Ferguson, we don’t have anything. How did we get affordable housing, we created a scholarship fund for every kid. You have to deliver a vision like that for the whole country,” Hickenlooper added.

9:37 p.m.: Flint water crisis gets its moment at debate

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., the first candidate to field a question on infrastructure, immediately brought up the Flint water crisis, saying, “I was just in Flint, and they are still drinking bottled water in that town, and that is outrageous, and my plan, and I am the first one that came out with an infrastructure plan and I did that because this is a bread and butter issue for people that are caught in traffic jams.”

“I truly believe that if we’re going to move on infrastructure in climate change, you need a voice from the heartland,” she said.

Marianne Williamson also addressed the issue, saying to loud applause, “This is part of the dark underbelly of American society, the rainfall, the bigotry, and the entire conversation that we’re having here tonight, if you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”

9:33 p.m.: Bernie Sanders defends his progressive agenda on climate change

Under attack from moderate candidate, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to focus his ire on Republicans and the fossil fuel industry.

“I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas,” Sanders began. “Republicans are not afraid of big ideas. They could give a trillion dollars in tax breaks to billionaires and profitable corporations.”

He later added, “On this issue, my friends, there is no choice, we have got to be super aggressive if we love our children and if we want to leave them a planet that is healthy and is habitable. So I don’t disagree with Tim. What that means is we got to a, take on the fossil fuel industry.”

He also said: “Ain’t nobody in the Congress is more strongly pro-worker than I am. So when I talk about taking on the fossil fuel industry, what I am also talking about is a just transition.”

9:27 p.m. Green New Deal under attack

After former U.S. Rep. John Delaney criticizes the progressive Green New Deal, former Governor John Hickenlooper also vocalizes his concern.

“I think the guarantee for a public job for everyone who wants one is a classic part of the problem. It’s a distraction. I share the urgency of everyone up here. We have to recognize, I mean, everyone’s got good ideas, what we do in this country is no matter than just a best practice. Right, it’s what we do here is a best practice and a template but it’s got to be done all over the world,” Hickenlooper said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren comes to the defense of the Green New Deal saying, “Look, I put a real policy on the table to create 1.2 million new jobs in green manufacturing. There’s going to be a $23 trillion worldwide market for this. This could revitalize huge cities across this country, and no one wants to talk about it. What you want to do is find the Republican talking point of a made-up piece of some other part and say, oh, we don’t really have to do anything. That’s the problem we’ve got in Washington right now. It continues to be a Washington that works great for oil companies, just not for people worried about climate change.”

9:25 p.m. Climate change gets its moment in the debate

Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney takes the first question and tackles why he believes the Green New Deal is not realistic.

“First of all, because it ties its progress to other things that are completely unrelated to climate like universal health care, guaranteed government jobs and universal basic income. My plan gets us to net-zero by 2050 which we absolutely have to do for our kids and grandkids will get us there. I put a price on carbon, take all the money, give it back to the American people in a dividend. That was introduced on a bipartisan basis. It’s the only significant bipartisan climate bill in the congress,” Delaney said.

9:23 p.m.: Beto O’Rourke highlights his bipartisanship with President Trump

“I think a big part of leadership and showing our commitment to the American people is delivering on our commitments,” former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke began. “As a member of Congress, when I learned that the El Paso VA had the worst wait times for mental health care in the country, meaning that care delayed functionally became care denied and was related to the suicide epidemic, we made it our priority and we turned around.”

“We got it signed into law by the one person with whom I agree on almost nothing, Donald Trump,” he said.

9:21 p.m. Sen. Bernie Sanders tells voters his vision of how to beat President Donald Trump in 2020

“To win this election and to defeat Donald Trump, which by the way, in my view is not going to be easy, we need to have a campaign of energy and excitement and of vision. We need to bring millions of young people into the political process in a way that we have never seen by among other things, making public colleges and universities tuition-free and canceling student debt.”

9:18 p.m.: Elizabeth Warren takes on electability question

As questions surround the massive field of candidates about their ability to beat Donald Trump in a general election, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said, “I know how to fight and I know how to win. I took on giant banks and I beat them. I took on Wall Street, and CEOs, and their lobbyists and their lawyers and I beat them. I took on a popular Republican incumbent senator, and I beat him. I remember when people said Barack Obama couldn’t get elected. Shoot, I remember when people said Donald Trump couldn’t get elected. But here’s where we are.”

Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney responded, “I think Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises.”

Warren, taking aim at Delaney, then quipped, “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running to the president of the United States to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for. I don’t get it.”

9: 16 p.m. Rep. Tim Ryan doesn’t put much weight on the current polls

After Sen. Bernie Sanders touted his lead in polls in battleground states, Ryan responded saying, “I would just say Hillary Clinton was winning in the polls, too. To take a snapshot in the polls today and apply it 16 months from now, whenever it is, I don’t think is accurate.”

9:15 p.m.: John Hickenlooper and Bernie Sanders throw their hands up in the air amid tense exchange

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, in the middle of the debate of their heated exchange, said, “I think if we’re going to force Americans to make these radical changes, they’re not going to go along. Throw your hands up, but you haven’t –“

Sanders replied, “I will,” as he threw his hands up.

“I can do it,” Hickenlooper said in response, also throwing his hands up in the air.

9:11 p.m John Hickenlooper calls out Sen. Bernie Sanders on health care as the fight morphs into moderates vs. progressives

“I’m saying the policies of this notion that you’re going to take private insurance away from 180 million American, who many of them don’t want to give it, many of them do want to get rid of it, but some don’t, many don’t. The Green New Deal makes sure that every American’s guaranteed a government job if they want, that is a disaster. You might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump,” Hickenlooper said.

9:10 p.m.: ABC News’ Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks: Debate on health care winners? Trump, Bernie … Delaney?

CNN spent the first portion of the debate tonight focused on health care, specifically teeing up the disagreements between those who favor Medicare for All and those who are not.

Republicans likely loved it. The discussion revealed large, fundamental divides in both policy and messaging strategy among the Democrats. They spent time telling each other they were wrong and debating Sanders’ plan in tough-to-follow detail.

Sanders’ benefited too — as again — they were all debating his plan. And frankly, Medicare for all is a cleaner bumper sticker than “Medicare for all – kinda-sorta-with tricky economics.”

At one point Sanders told Tapper his very question about taking away private insurance and raising taxes was a Republican taxing point. A strong moment for him.

Still, Warren repeatedly came to Sanders’ defense and while doubling-down on her support of his bill, she at times seemed better able to control the conversations than he did.

One more winner — former Congressman Jon Delaney, who, while disagreeing with Sanders, made smart points about doctor reimbursement and hospital closure. He looked like someone disagreeing with Sanders who actually understood health care policy.

9:02 p.m.: Steve Bullock invokes a personal story on gun violence

In the middle of sharing his stance on gun violence, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said, “I’m a gun owner, I hunt, like far too many people in America, I have been personally impacted by gun violence. I had an 11-year-old nephew, Jeremy, shot and killed on a playground.”

“We need to start looking at this as a public health issue, not a political issue. I agree with Senator Klobuchar. It is the NRA,” he added.

9:01 p.m. Gun debate highlights age gap between 2020 competitors

A 37-year-old Mayor Pete Buttigieg, spotlighted the age difference between him and 59-year-old Sen. Amy Klobuchar when he responded, “This is the exact same conversation we have been having when I was in high school. I was a junior when the Columbine shooting happened. I am the first generation to see school shootings. We have produced a second generation. We dare not allow there to be a third. Something is broken.”

8:59 p.m. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., takes on the National Rifle Association while taking a jab at President Donald Trump

“This isn’t just about a system or it’s not just about words. This is about the NRA,” Klobuchar said. ” I sat across from the president of the United States after Parkland because I have been a leader on these issues and have the will to close the boyfriend loophole, and I watched and wrote down when nine times he said he wanted universal background checks. The next day he goes and he meets with the NRA and he folds. As your president, I will not fold”

8:59 p.m.: Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper touts his tenure as chief executive on gun violence

“When I went to the movie theater in Aurora in 2012 and saw that footage of what happened at that crime scene, I’ll never forget it, and we decided, you know, that we were going to go out and take on the NRA, and we passed in a purple state, we passed universal background checks,” he said of his experience with tackling the issue of gun violence in the country.

8:56 p.m. Dems switch to gun violence

Mayor Pete Buttigieg takes the first question on how to end the epidemic of gun violence.

“What we’re doing hasn’t worked because we haven’t had a system in Washington capable of delivering what the American people have told us they want. 90% of Republicans want universal background checks, not to mention the common-sense solutions like red flag laws that disarm domestic abusers and flag mental health risks and an end to assault weapons, things like what I carried overseas in uniform that have no business in American neighborhood in peacetime, let alone anywhere near a school,” Buttigieg said.

8:54 p.m.: Steve Bullock offers a middle-ground approach to immigration, spars with Elizabeth Warren

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, the red-state Democrat, attempted to present a different perspective on stage, saying, ” I think this is part of the discussion that shows how often these debates are detached from people’s lives. We got a hundred thousand people showing up at the border right now. If we decriminalize entry, if we give health care to everyone, we’ll have multiples of that. Don’t take my word. That was President Obama’s homeland security secretary that said that.”

After calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan on immigration “unrealistic,” Bullock added, “You are playing into Donald Trump’s hands. The challenge isn’t that it’s a criminal of to cross the border. The challenge is that Donald Trump is president and using this to rip families apart.”

8:51 p.m.: Moderate Amy Klobuchar weighs in on immigration

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., opined on the current debate on immigration, particularly illegal border crossings, telling the audience in Detroit, “I would say there is a will to change this in Congress. What’s missing is the right person in the White House.

“I believe that immigrants don’t diminish America, they are America and if you want to do something about border security, you, first of all, change the rules so then you pass the bill, and what the bill will do is it will greatly reduce the deficit and give us some money for border security,” she added.

8:50 p.m. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and John Hickenlooper spar on decriminalizing illegal border crossings

“The point is not about criminalization. That has given Donald Trump the tool to break families apart,” Warren said.

“The frustration with what’s going on in Washington is they are kicking the ball back and forth. Secure the borders and make sure whatever law we have doesn’t allow children to be snatched from parents and put in cages. How hard can that be? On two debate nights, we have 170 years of Washington experience. Somehow it seems like that should be fairly fixable,” Hickenlooper responded.

“Well, and one way to fix it is to decriminalize. That’s the whole point,” Warren said.

8:48 p.m.: Beto O’Rourke defends his stance on decriminalizing border corssings

Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke shared his view on decriminalizing illegal border crossings, saying, “In my administration, after we have waived citizenship fees for green card holders, more than 9 million of our fellow Americans, free Dreamers who many fear of deportation and stop criminally prosecuting families and children for seeking asylum and refuge and for-profit detention and so that no family has to make that 2,000 mile journey, then I expect that people who come here follow our laws and we reserve the right to criminally prosecute them.”

8:47 p.m. Dems turn to immigration

Mayor Pete Buttigieg tackles his proposal to decriminalize the border.

“If fraud is involved, that’s suitable for the criminal statute. If not, it should be handled under civil law,” Buttigieg said.

8:44 p.m.: 2019 Bernie Sanders sounds like 2016 Bernie Sanders

Hearkening back to when he said in a 2016 debate against Hillary Clinton, “The American people are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Tuesday night about his ‘Medicare for all’ bill, “I wrote the damn bill.”

8:43 p.m. Tim Ryan makes appeal to union workers on healthcare while attacking Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders

“Here we are in Detroit, home of the auto workers and have union friends here tonight. This plan being offered by Senator Warren and Sanders will tell the union members that give away wages in order to get good health care that they will lose their health care because Washington is going to come in and tell them they have a better plan,” Ryan said.

8:39 p.m. John Delaney says other 2020 candidates don’t understand the health care system

“‘I’m the only one on the stage with experience in the health care business and with all due respect, I don’t think my colleagues understand the business,” Delaney said. “The public option is great but doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t go far enough. I’m proposing universal health care where everyone gets health care as a basic human right for free, but they have choices.”

8:37 p.m.: Bernie Sanders goes after moderator Jake Tapper

Amid a response on the debate over healthcare, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., took aim at CNN moderator, Jake Tapper and then the network as a whole for the ads running during the debate’s commercial breaks.

“What I am talking about and others up here are talking about is no deductibles and no co-payments and Jake, your question is a Republican talking point. At the end of the day and by the way, and by the way, by the way, the health care industry will be advertising tonight on this program,” he said.

8:33 p.m.: Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke dive into their positions on healthcare

“We don’t have to stand up here speculating about whether the public option will be better or Medicare For All environment will be better than corporate options. We’ll put it to the test,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said.

“I think you can buy into it. That’s the idea of Medicare For All that want to,” Buttigieg added.

But former Congressman Beto O’Rourke said, “The middle class will not pay more in taxes to ensure that every American is guaranteed world-class health care. I think we’re being offered a false choice. Some who want to improve the Affordable Care Act at the margins, others who want a Medicare For All program that will force people off of private insurance, I have a better path: Medicare for America.”

8:31 p.m. Gov. Steve Bullock answers for why he doesn’t support Medicare-for-All

“At the end of the day I won’t support any plan that rips away quality health care from individuals,” Bullock said. “This is an example of wishlist economics. It used to be Republicans that wanted to repeal and replace, now many Democrats do, as well. We can get there with the public option, negotiating drug prices.”

8:29 p.m.: Elizabeth Warren comes to Bernie Sanders’ defense

Amid the first contentious moment between Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Congressman John Delaney, D-Md., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., stood by her progressive ally, defending him from the attack.

“We are the Democrats. We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone. That’s what the Republicans are trying to do,” she said in response to Delaney. “We should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care.”

8:27 p.m. John Delaney creates the first spar of the night with Bernie Sanders on health care

“I’m right about this,” Delaney said. “We can create a universal health care system to give everyone basic health care for free, and I have a proposal to do it, but we don’t have to go around and be the party of subtraction and telling half the country with private health insurance their health insurance is illegal.”

“The fact of the matter is, tens of millions of people lose their health insurance every single year when they change jobs or their employer changes that insurance,” Sanders added. “If you want stability in the health care system, if you want a system which gives you freedom of choice with regard to doctor or hospital, which is a system which will not bankrupt you, the answer is to get rid of the profits of the drug companies.”

8:25 p.m. Sen. Bernie Sanders tackles the first question of the night on health care

“Right now we have a dysfunctional health care system,” Sanders said. “87 million uninsured or underinsured, 500,000 Americans every year going bankrupt because of medical bills. 30,000 people dying while the health care industry makes tens of billions of dollars in profit.”

8:23 p.m. More Democrats make their case

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “Let’s get real … I have bold ideas, but they are grounded in reality. And yes, I will make some simple promises. I can win this, I’m from the midwest and I’ve won every race, every place, every time and I will govern with integrity.”

Former Texas Beto O’Rourke: “I’m running for president because I believe that America discovers it’s greatness at its moments of greatest need.”

8:19 p.m. Democrats make their case to voters in their opening statements

Author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson: “We the American people must rise up and do what we do best and create a new possibility, say no to what we don’t want and yes to what we know can be true.”

Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney: “Folks, we have a choice. We can go down the road that senator Sanders and senator Warren want to take us with bad policies like medicare for all, free everything, and impossible promises that will turn off independent voters and get trump reelected.”

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio: “The political system is broken, too, because the entire conversation is about left or right, where are you at on the political system and I’m here to say this isn’t about left or right. This is about new and better and it’s not about reforming old systems. It’s about building new systems and tonight, I will offer solutions that are bold, that are realistic, and that are a clean break from the past.”

Former Colorado GovJohn Hickenlooper: “Last year Democrats flipped 40 Republican seats in the house and not one of those 40 Democrats supported the policies of our front runners at center stage … we focused on was making sure we got people together to get things done.”

8:14 p.m. Steve Bullock gives the first opening statement of the night highlighting his ability to work with Republicans across the aisle

“Look, I’m a pro-choice, pro-union, Democrat that won three elections in a red state, not by compromising our values but by getting stuff done,” Bullock said. “That’s how we win back the places we lost.”

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