ABC News Democratic debate showcases hits on ascendant Buttigieg; strong performance by Klobuchar
adamkaz/iStock(MANCHESTER, N.H.) — Iowa’s final results from the first contest of the presidential cycle remain unclear, despite reaching 100% of precincts reporting late Thursday, but since the returns started slowly trickling in, the ground of the 2020 race has shifted, with the Democrats more openly and aggressively drawing contrasts between each other over their competing visions for the country.
They brought the disputes they’ve battled out on the campaign trail to the debate stage.
Here’s how the night unfolded.
11:55 p.m. Steyer addressed his controversial investment past
ABC News Contributor Rahm Emanuel presses Steyer on the potential hypocrisy of his political views considering his past investments.
“A couple of times I made mistakes including in fossil fuels. People keep bringing up that I invested in fossil fuels and we did,” Steyer said. “I walked away from my business because I wanted to make sure that, in fact, all the things I believed in are true, and I made those decisions a long time ago before I decided to run for office on a moral basis.”
Steyer said he was also wrong for past investments in for-profit prisons but adds that he’s since worked to abolish them in California.
“I realized something was wrong, so I divested in it and moved on,” he added.
11:40 p.m. Klobuchar talked education in the spin room
In an apparent jab at Sanders, Klobuchar said her plan for education “doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker” but “it will work for our economy.”
“We are not going to have a shortage of sports marketing degrees. We are going to have a shortage of plumbers,” Klobuchar said, before adding that her plan would invest in free one and two year colleges. “I don’t think we should be sending hard earned taxpayer money to send wealthy kids to college which is exactly what their plans do.”
11:26 p.m. Biden calls himself the underdog
ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asks Biden about the moment at the top of the debate when Biden admitted he didn’t do well in Iowa and said he didn’t expect to do well in New Hampshire either.
“I’ve been the front runner all along here. I’ve had that target on my back from the beginning. The fact is, in New Hampshire I’m an underdog because of the fact that Bernie won this place by 20 points last time. The neighboring senators have have gigantic influence,” Biden said. “But it doesn’t matter. I’ve lost a lot of things before in the past, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose to this guy Trump to lose the country to.”
When asked about his back-and-forth with Buttigieg on “politics of the past,” Biden questions Buttigieg’s perception of history.
“Pete keeps talking about everything was bad before, ‘all the past was bad.’ Since when did the Democrats think Barack Obama didn’t do a good job?” Biden said . “All these bad things? I don’t know where [Buttigieg] was living.”
Karl then asks Biden if Buttigieg could be another Obama.
“Being a mayor of a town smaller than Manchester is not quite being United States Senator from the state of Illinois even though it was only for a short amount of time,” Biden argued.
11:15 p.m. Warren on a path forward
Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas asks Warren why she thinks she finished third in Iowa.
“We made it the top three and I’m glad of that… Now I’m ready to focus on new Hampshire,” she said, before taking another jab at Buttigieg’s fundraising and taking money from Super PACs. “One of the consequences by deciding not to fundraise by spending 70% of my time with rich people and corporate lobbyists is that I had a lot of time to go all around the country.”
When asked if there is a path forward if there are no victories in the first four races — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina — Warren doesn’t reveal a sign that she’s stopping anytime soon, despite her quieter appearance on the debate stage.
“I have built an organization from the ground up, a grassroots movement. We are now in 30 states. We have staff on the ground, we have volunteers coming in, because I believe in this fight. This is the fight that I’ve been fighting all my life, for America’s middle class. And now we’re close.”
11:05 p.m. Buttigieg stopped by the spin room
Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas sits down with Buttigieg post-debate and asks him to address South Bend residents who asked the then-mayor before primary voting began if he cared about back people.
“We had a really tough situation when we had a police shooting in our city,” Buttigieg said, referring to last year’s fatal shooting of a black citizen by a white police officer.
“I don’t get the luxury of just calling for good things to happen or taking votes on them. When you’re a mayor on the ground, you have to deal with these things,” Buttigieg said, also pitching his experience as a Washington outsider.
“Of course we did not fix systemic racism in eight years in South Bend, but they’re only telling part of the story if somebody is pointing to the challenges we face.”
When Llamas asks him if he has what it takes to take on Trump, Buttigieg said, “I’ve taken worse incoming than a tweet full of typos.”
10:42 p.m. Christie says Buttigieg lied about his South Bend record, looked like “a deer in headlights”
ABC News Contributor Chris Christie says candidates missed an opportunity to challenge Buttigieg on his controversial record as mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
“I think a moment that could be foreshadowing for the future is when Mayor Pete was up there outright lying about his record on African-American arrests and marijuana, and Linsey Davis of ABC challenged him more than any candidate challenged him tonight. You saw the look on his face. He looked like a deer in the headlights,” Christie says.
“If he ever gets on the stage with Donald Trump it’s going to be a whole different story who will call him on those things. I think the other candidates better get serious about calling Mayor Pete on the record in South Bend. It was a missed opportunity for other candidates.”
10:33 p.m. ABC correspondents weigh in on the candidates’ performance
ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl says it was a “breakthrough night” for Amy Klobuchar.
“She took on her opponents, especially Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, but she also made a coherent and forceful case for her candidacy as a Democrat who has won among Democrats but has also won among the voters the Democrats failed to win in 2016,” Karl says.
ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega adds that Buttigieg secured his place as a front-runner.
“Really on that stage today was Pete Buttigieg. He was a front-runner now. He’s performing like he is someone in the front of the pack, despite the caucuses and what happened there. He had a target on his back and really went down swinging tonight,” Vega says.
10:27 p.m. The contenders pitch their vision for the country while addressing child poverty in final question
At his turn, Joe Biden said, “Like I said, they are all our children and they’re not somebody else’s kids. Everyone, everyone, everyone, as my father would say, is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect, and we’re not doing it.”
Bernie Sanders, railing against big money interests, said, “Our priorities are determined by those who want to see the rich get richer … what is unique about our campaign is we say, unashamedly, we are raising our campaign contributions not from billionaires, but from working-class people, that our campaign is about the working families of this country, for the working class of this country, and that is the administration that we will run.”
Amy Klobuchar, took the opportunity to take a swipe at President Trump, before speaking to Americans, telling them, “I know you.” ” I will tell you this, there is a complete lack of empathy in this guy in the white house right now, and I will bring back to you — if you have trouble stretching your paycheck to pay for that rent, I know you, and I will fight for you. If you have trouble deciding if you’re going to pay for your child care or your long-term care, I know you, and I will fight for you,” she said.
Tom Steyer, the last of the candidates to field the question, said, “What we need to do is have a new conception, a new dream of America, dream it and make it happen. Imagine the mountain and then we climb it together. We are in perilous times. I am asking for your vote. Let’s rise together.”
10:22 p.m. Candidates tackle final question on pre-schoolers living in poverty
In a nod to a question from ABC News’ own Cokie Roberts in 1999, the candidates were asked about would they say about where America is today, given child poverty rates, and what needs to be done about it.
Yang was first up, saying, “The mission in this campaign has to be for us to disentangle economic value and human value. Say they are not the same things.”
He added, “And make this case to our fellow Americans, that we each have intrinsic value, as citizens, as human beings, and as owners and shareholders of the richest country in the history of the world.”
Buttigieg told the audience inside the debate hall, “The time has arrived for a different kind of politics. To turn the page, leave the politics of the past in the past, and deliver a better future before it is too late.”
Warren invoked her own experience as a special education teacher.
“I started my grown-up life as a special education teacher. I learned early on about the worth of every single human being,” Warren said. “And I believe that the best investment we can make as a nation, the best investment we can make as a nation, the best investment we can make as human beings is to invest in our children.”
10:14 p.m Final question posed, a question about economic inequity and children in poverty
Here comes the final question: a thought provoking question about economic inequity and children in poverty.
10:04 p.m.: Latino’s have been absent from the conversation thus far
“Thus far no discussion of Latinos by any of the candidates though healthcare, employment and criminal justice reform,” ABC News “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts said.
10:01 p.m. Sanders said New Hampshire Senators were wrong in USMCA vote
Both New Hampshire Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen voted yes on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal, and when asked if the New Hampshire Senators were wrong in voting yes on the landmark piece of legislation from the Trump administration, Sanders said yes.
“There’s not one word in that trade agreement that deals with climate change, and I don’t know how in 2020 you could do that. Second of all, there is in terms of outsourcing of jobs — a major crisis in this country — nobody believes that under this Trump trade agreement that they will not be continued,” Sanders said. “I think the right vote was to vote against that agreement. I don’t apologize for that.”
Klobuchar and Warren — the other two senators on stage — voted yes on the measure, and Klobuchar takes the chance to defend her colleagues.
“First, I want to defend the senators from New Hampshire,” she said. “Why did I vote with them? Because there were major improvements when it comes to labor inspections, when it comes to getting rid of a sweetheart pharma deal that was in place.”
9:56 p.m. Buttigieg signals he can go toe-to-toe with Sanders’ movement
Following Bernie Sanders’ refrain on building a “a mass movement of working people,” Pete Buttigieg argued that he, too, can build a movement.
“As the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire I know a thing or two about building a movement because Mayor of South Bend, Indiana is not exactly an establishment fundraising power house,” he said. “We are here without the involvement of any corporate PACS because hundreds of thousands of people.”
9:56 p.m. Despite not being on stage, the candidates get a question on billionaire Bloomberg
A viewer from Nashville asks the candidates on stage why they are better positioned to beat Trump than Bloomberg.
Warren tackles the question first, taking aim her rivals for big dollar fundraising.”I don’t think anyone ought to be able to buy their way into a nomination of being President of the United States. I don’t think any billionaire ought to be able to do it, and I don’t think people who suck up to billionaires in order to fund their campaigns ought to be able to do it,” Warren said. “Everyone on this stage except Amy and me is either a billionaire or is receiving help from PACS that can do unlimited spending. So if you really want to live where you say, then put your money where your mouth is and say no to the PACs.”
Sanders doubles down on Warren’s rhetoric, and addresses Bloomberg and Buttigieg directly.
“There are million of people who can desire to run for office, but I guess if you’re worth $60 billion and can spend millions of dollars on commercials you have a slight advantage. That is nonsense,” Sanders said.
“Unlike some of the campaigns up here, Pete, I don’t have 40 billionaires funding my campaign coming from the pharmaceutical industry and Wall Street and all the big money interests.”
9:48 p.m. Klobuchar pitches automatic voter registration
On the topic of race inequality, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar brings up voter suppression and how it disproportionately effects voters of color.
“There’s something else insidious going on we haven’t addressed, and that is the systemic racism when it comes to voting that moves across the country to limit people’s right to vote. That is why I have been leading on these bills to automatically register every kid to vote in this country when they turn 18. There is no reason we can’t do that across the country to stop the gerrymandering by setting up independent commissions in every state and yes, to stop the voting purges,” Klobuchar said.
“We are not going to be able to get any of these things done if we don’t give people the right to vote.”
9:46 p.m. Steyer goes after Biden over South Carolina supporter’s comments about black legislator
Tom Steyer just invoked a prominent supporter of Joe Biden in the state of South Carolina, referencing a story from the Charleston Post and Courier that uncovered a large payment his campaign made to state Rep. Jerry Govan, the Chair of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus. That report alleges that Steyer’s campaign paid Govan more than $43,000 to be a senior advisor to his campaign, an amount much higher than the normal salaries of Steyer’s top staffers.
In that story, state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a prominent support of Biden in the state and a bundler, is quoted as saying: “[Govan] told me he was with Joe Biden until Mr. Moneybags showed up…This is what happens when billionaires get involved, whether its Donald Trump or Tom Steyer. They just buy things. They don’t have to persuade anybody, they just buy them.” In Biden’s answer tonight, he made it clear he has talked to Harpootlian and he has apologized.
“I think you should come over and disavow the statements that this man made that were openly racist, that were wrong, and the legislative black caucus is against. I’m asking you to join us and do the right thing,” Steyer said to Biden.
“I’ve already spoken to Dick Harpootlian, and he in fact is — was — is — I believe is sorry for what he said,” Biden responded.
ABC News’ Johnny Verhovek reported.
9:45 p.m.: ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce: Tom Steyer ‘has his moment’
“Tom Steyer has his moment, seizing the spotlight with a passionate call for diversity: “We have the most diverse party. We have a very diverse country. We have a very diverse party. The heart and soul of this party is diversity,” he said. “The question we have is how are we getting that diverse group of people to the polls?” Joe Biden is probably the candidate with the most riding on getting that diverse group of people to the polls, hoping his strength with African American voters will help deliver him a much-needed win in South Carolina,” ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce said.
9:41 p.m.: ABC News “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts: race comes up halfway through the debate
“Race comes up 90 minutes in debate,” ABC News “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts noted.
Throughout the 2020 contest, issues dealing with race and discrimination have permeated a number of heated discussions among the candidates. From South Bend, Indiana Mayor’s Pete Buttigieg’s low polling Among African Americans to reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans, to candidate plans on criminal justice reform, the presidential hopefuls have sparred on the issues.
9:35 p.m. Steyer takes aim at rivals for no talk of race
In a debate with only one person of color, in a field with waning diversity, Tom Steyer called out his rivals for the lack of discussion on race.
“We’re in trouble,” he began. “And so the question is going to be, look at these people, who can pull together the Democratic party? And let me say this, we have not said one word tonight about race. Not one word. Are you kidding me? We have the most diverse party. We have a very diverse country. We have a very diverse party. The heart and soul of this party is diversity. Black people, Latinos, AAPI people, Native Americans, and white people.”
“But for goodness’ sake, pull it together,” he said.
9:33 p.m. Trump campaign continues firing off counter-messages
“No one would denounce socialism, no one would have taken out [Iranian General] Soleimani,” The Trump campaign’s communications director told ABC News. “This is a clinic on how to weaken America.”
The campaign, following the debate closely, continues to post counter-messages on its Twitter feed.
ABC News’ Will Steakin reported.
9:29 p.m. Warren said she’d push for national law to protect reproductive rights
“Look, I’ve lived in an America in which abortion was illegal, and rich women still got abortions, and that’s what we have to remember about this,” Warren said. “States are heading toward trying to ban abortion outright. The Supreme Court seems headed in exactly that direction as well. If we are going to protect the people of the United States of America and we are going to protect our rights to have dominion over our own bodies, then it’s going mean we simply can’t rely on the courts.”
She takes it a step further, adding, “it is time to have a national law to protect the right of a woman’s choice.”
9:27 p.m.: ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran: This is Senator Klobuchar’s best debate
“This is Amy Klobuchar’s best debate. She’s hit Buttigieg hard, and taken on Bernie to good effect as well,” ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran said. “And she’s done it while delivering her message—that she is the most pragmatic, optimistic, centrist candidate on that stage. Probably too little, too late. And Klobuchar wasted long months struggling to shed her in-the-weeds, legislative diction (a common DC condition I call “senatoritis”) and find a truly national voice. But she is shining here tonight.”
9:26 p.m. Biden said there would be a ‘litmus test’ on abortion when it comes to judges
The one candidate who faced early criticism for his stance on abortion, Joe Biden, told the crowd in Manchester, N.H., that he would have a litmus test on abortion when it comes to nominating judges to the Supreme Court.
“Yes, look. Here is the deal. A litmus test on abortion relates to the fundamental value of the constitution. A woman does have a right to choose…If you call that a litmus test it is a litmus test,” he said.
9:23p.m. Warren on gun culture
Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas asks Warren if she could change one thing about America’s gun culture, what would it be, and she responds saying she’d have lawmakers “treat it like the public health emergency it it is.”
“We can’t get a vote in the United States Senate because it is the gun industry that continues to call the shots. Until we attack the corruption in Washington, the influence of money on campaigns and lobbying, we’re not going to be able to meet your promises,” Warren said. “Until we are that we’re willing to roll back the filibuster, the gun industry is going to continue to have a veto and we’ll never make the changes,” she adds. “We have to be willing to build a future that works not for a gun industry but that work for the rest of America and protects our children.”
9:19 p.m. Sanders battles record on gun control, a top issue for New Hampshire voters
When Bernie Sanders, who often touts his consistency throughout his long career, was asked about his record in the 1990s when he voted against background checks and also against a waiting period for purchase of a firearm, he addressed his change of heart.
“Let me also say that in 1988, I probably lost a race for Congress and we only have one Congress person in the whole state, because in 1988 I said that we should ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in this country. That was 30 years ago,” Sanders said pushing against the notion that he wasn’t consistent on guns. “I am very proud that today I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA.”
“The world has changed and my view has changed,” he added.
9:18 p.m. Here’s who’s talking the most in ABC News’ Democratic debate
At the halfway mark, here’s who’s talking the most in ABC News’ Democratic debate.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been holding the floor longer than any rival at Friday night’s ABC News Democratic debate — the first of the 2020 primary contest. This may reflect is presumed strong first-place finish in the Iowa contest and headwind heading into the New Hampshire primary. Candidates on stage have directly addressed Buttigieg on a number of issues aimed at highlighting what they claim is his relative inexperience.
9:15 p.m. Yang and Klobuchar on addressing America’s opioid addition
When asked how he would address America’s opioid epidemic when resources are already sparse, Yang said the federal government is fiscally responsible for helping people.
“This is not a money problem, fundamentally, this is a human problem, but money cannot be the obstacle. This is something that happened on the government’s watch,” Yang said.
“We have someone in the White House that told over 15,000 lies,” Klobuchar said, after outlining her plan to hold opioid manufacturers accountable. “I will get this done and it is personal for me,” in a nod to her father who struggled with alcoholism.
9:14 p.m.: ABC News Political Contributor Yvette Simpson: ‘Great and powerful responses by the candidates on the military’
“Great and powerful responses from Sanders, Warren and Steyer for the need for strategy, diplomacy and cooperation with our allies rather than relying primarily on a military response,” ABC News Political Contributor Yvette Simpson said.
9:13 p.m. Candidates take questions from New Hampshire voters
As part of the debate, WMUR-TV Political Director Adam Sexton and WMUR-TV News Anchor Monica Hernandez, from ABC News’ New Hampshire affiliate, asked the Pete Buttigieg a question from a New Hampshire voter on his policies on the decriminalization of all drugs.
“What I am calling for is that we end the use of incarceration as a response,” he responded. “This does not mean that it will be lawful to produce or distribute those kinds of harmful drugs.” Another question on the issue was thrown to Andrew Yang, who was asked how he would make sure treatment is available for all overdose patients.
“That’s what we have to change,” he said. “I’ve heard heart breaking stories from family is here in New Hampshire that have been destroyed, torn apart by the opioid epidemic. You have to look at the companies that profited to tune of tens of billions of dollars in profits of essentially blood money. As president, we will take back those profits and put them to work right here in New Hampshire so that if you are seeking treatment, you have resources to be able to pursue it.”
9:06 p.m. Sanders draws contrast with Biden over Iraq War vote
In the lead up to early voting, Bernie Sanders has often slammed Joe Biden’s vote supporting the Iraq War on the trail.
As the fierceness of the primary content ramps up, Sanders once again took aim at Biden’s 2002 vote in order to contrast himself with the his rival, saying, “If I might, like Joe and others, I also heard the arguments in terms of the war in Iraq from [George W.] Bush, from [Dick] Cheney, from John Bolton, from the whole administration. I listened very carefully. And I concluded that they were lying through their teeth. And I not only voted against that war but I helped lead the opposition.”
9:02 p.m. Steyer on Buttigieg-attack ad in New Hampshire and climate change
“World News Tonight” Anchor and Managing Editor David Muir asks Steyer about an attack ad Steyer’s campaign is running in New Hampshire which attacks Buttigieg’s experience. It’s the first negative ad of the cycle that is paid for by a candidate and invokes another candidate’s name of the cycle.
Steyer doesn’t take his chance to pitch himself as Commander-in-Chief and instead, shifts his focus to climate change.
“This view of the world that our response should be military is driven by our gigantic military complex and ignores the biggest problem we face in the world, which is climate change. It cannot be solved with guns and tanks and planes. The only be solved with diplomacy and allies and interaction with other countries.”
9:00 p.m. Biden leans into experience on foreign policy, as Buttigieg strikes hard on his long record
During an answer on foreign policy, Joe Biden, as he often does on the campaign stump, leaned into his long record on foreign policy, saying, “I’ve been to every part of Afghanistan, not in combat like my friend has, but in a helicopter and/or on a vehicle. In every part of it as a senator and vice president. Here’s what I saw. There’s no possibility of uniting that country. No possibility at all of making it a whole country.”
The debate then turned to Buttigieg, who asked if as commander-in-chief would he have better judgment than Biden, to which he replied by taking aim at Biden’s complicated record, “I believe that I have the judgment to help us get through these situations where obviously the vice president made the wrong decision when it came to such an important moment in our foreign policy.”
8:58 p.m. Biden weighs in on service members suffering traumatic brain injuries following Iranian missile attack
Former Vice President Joe Biden weighed in on U.S. service members who suffered traumatic brain injuries following Iranian missile attack: “What’d the president say? He said, headaches…that’s all they are. This guy doesn’t deserve to be commander-in-chief for one more day!
8:55 p.m. Buttigieg leads the pack with the most speaking time thus far, with Yang falling short
With the most speaking time thus far, according to ABC News’ partners at FiveThirtyEight, Buttigieg is on fire.
Much like the results from Iowa, Sanders is following closely behind.
Yang, the lone candidate of color, looks to be at the bottom of the pack — but there’s more time when ABC News returns from the break.
8:48 p.m. Buttigieg: “No evidence” that Solemani strike made America safer, said Trump doesn’t read intelligence reports
“World News Tonight” Anchor and Managing Editor David Muir asks Buttigieg, who is the only candidate on stage with military experience, if he would have called for the killing of Solemani as Commander-in-Chief.
“There is no evidence that that made our country safer,” Buttigieg said. “It’s also the case that if we learned nothing else from the war in Iraq, it’s that taking out a bad guy is not a good idea if you do not know what you are doing.”
“This president has insulted the intelligence community, but they put their lives on the line to gather the information that will help the decision-maker evaluate whether or not something like that is justified. I don’t think he even reads it.”
Addressing the day’s headlines that the White House’s has fired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Buttigieg adds, “Not only punishing a veteran today but pardoning war criminals in a way that undermines the sense of good order and discipline and military honor. We deserve a better Commander-in-Chief.”
8:47 p.m.: Candidates discuss holding President Trump accountable
“This discussion on holding Trump accountable is GREAT for Democrats — all of them are demonstrating a commitment to fighting Trump that Democrats are hungry to see,” ABC News Political Contributor Yvette Simpson said. “This is the fight that Democratic voters want to see from their candidates.”
8:46 p.m.: ABC News Contributor Rahm Emanuel: Senator Warren “is not cognizant of the stakes”
“Elizabeth is not offering anything different from what she offered voters prior to Iowa,” ABC News Contributor Rahm Emanuel said. “She is not cognizant of the stakes.”
8:46 p.m. Trump’s campaign posts ‘stunning’ debate clip of Dems responding to questions of Sanders’ politics
With their eyes on the debate, The Trump campaign is calling out Democrats for “hesitating” to say they were concerned about a Democratic Socialist becoming president. “STUNNING! Watch every leading Democrat hesitate to say they are concerned about having a Democratic Socialist at the top of the Democratic ticket,” they tweeted.
Trump and his campaign have continued to hammer Sanders for the political label, with Trump even calling him a “communist” at a recent event.
His campaign has continued firing off a string of counterpoints to the Democrats as well, especially targeting Buttigieg, who they call a “human weather vane.”
ABC News’ Will Steakin reported.
8:44 p.m.: ABC News Contributor Chris Christie: Mayor Buttigieg handled the Hunter Biden question well
“Good answer by Mayor Pete on Hunter Biden,” ABC News Contributor Chris Christie said.
8:41 p.m. In moment of unity, Buttigieg defends Biden family: ‘We’ve got to draw a line here’
In a rare moment of unity amid a heated primary contest, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg firmly defended former Vice President Joe Biden, amid Republican attacks on his family over his son, Hunter Biden’s role with the Ukrainian company Burisma.
When asked if he thought there is a danger for the Democratic party to nominate a candidate who is under the threat of investigation, Buttigieg responded, “No. We are not going to let them change the subject. This is not about Hunter Biden or Vice President Biden or any Biden. This is about an abuse of power by the president. The vice president and I all are competing but we’ve got to draw a line here.”
No evidence of illegal wrongdoing has been found against Hunter Biden or his father regarding his ties to Ukraine.
A moment later, after Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was asked if Sanders could gain support from any Republicans.
Biden walked over to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and gave him a hug.
8:38 p.m.: Senator Amy Klobuchar compares Mayor Buttigieg’s popularity to President Trump’s in 2016
“Mayor Pete’s big showing in Iowa is making him the big target tonight. Even billionaire Tom Steyer is going after him,” ABC News Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas said. “Senator Amy Klobochar had the sharpest attack comparing Mayor Pete’s popularity to President Trump’s in 2016: “we have a cool newcomer in the White House and look where it got us.””
8:37p.m. Yang said American don’t care about investigations
ABC News Live Anchor Linsey Davis asks Andrew Yang about him past comments that a president’s conduct shouldn’t be investigated. Yang has said, if elected president, he would consider pardoning a President Trump, if convicted after office.
“If you look around the world, the countries that have thrown past presidents into jail have generally been developing countries. That’s a pattern that once you establish is very hard to break,” Yang said. “Most Americans don’t care about what a particular individual did. They care about their family’s well being, their town, their community.”
“We should not fall onto a policy that’s been disastrous in other countries.”
8:34 p.m. Yang said Trump is “not the cause of all our problems” but a symptom of it
“Donald Trump is the not the cause of all of our problems and we’re making a mistake when we act like he is. He is a symptom of a disease that has been building up in our communities for years and decades, and it is our job to get to the harder work of actually curing the disease,” said tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang who has argued on the trail that his outsider status is the antidote.
8:33 p.m.: Mayor Buttigieg contrasts himself from the Washington elite
“Mayor Pete’s message on needing a person who can meet this moment was a powerful contrast to those who have been in D.C. for years,” ABC News Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd said.
8:32 p.m. Buttigieg poises himself as best candidate to beat Trump, plays to his youth
“Here’s how we’re going to win: We’re going to force this president to stand on that debate stage next to somebody who actually lives in a middle class neighborhood in the industrial Midwest in the exact kind of community that he pretends to speak for but turns his back on,” said former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who at 38, is the youngest candidate on stage.
“If we want to beat this president we have to move on from the playbook we have relied upon in the past and unify this country around a new and better vision.”
8:32 p.m. Steyer interjects in sparring between Sanders, Buttigieg, receives a loud applause from the crowd
From the wings of the stage, Tom Steyer, a billionaire and political outsider, received a loud applause for railing against a divided party as Democrats are eager to oust President Trump.
“I have heard this conversation on this debate stage from these people now every single debate, and they’re all right. Everybody on this stage is better on economic justice and health care than anybody in the Republican Party and a million times better than Donald Trump,” he began.
“That is not the question in front of us today,” he continued, before adding that, “We need people with experience. That’s why I’m worried about Mayor Pete. That’s the issue in front of Democratic voters…If we win, we can get the right thing, Bernie. I am with you. But we’ve got to win or we are in deep trouble and we keep not talking about the facts.”
8:31 p.m.: Senator Sanders makes a plea for unity, but is met with attacks
“Bernie Sanders started the debate with a plea for unity — a vow to support the nominee “no matter who wins this damn thing” — but the others are attacking him like he is the front runner and time is running out to take him down,” recounts ABC News Chief White House Correspondent John Karl.
8:30 p.m.: Senator Klobuchar’s attack on Mayor Buttigieg: “Ouch,” said ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz
“Ouch. Double barrel attack on Buttigieg from Klobuchar. Bringing up the cartoon comment a dig at his age as well as inexperience?” ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz said.
Age and stamina has been an undercurrent throughout the election season.
8:28 p.m. Klobuchar thanks Doug Jones, Mitt Romney on impeachment vote
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one of four senators in the contest who raced between Washington, D.C. and the campaign trail during the impeachment trial, thanked her colleagues who she said had ‘courage’ to support convicting President Trump.
“Meeting the moment. We had a moment the last few weeks…and that moment was the impeachment hearings,” she said. “There was a lot of courage you saw from only a few people. There was courage from Doug Jones, our friend in Alabama who took that tough vote. There was courage from Mitt Romney, who took a very, very difficult vote.”
8:28 p.m.: ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega: Senator Amy Klobuchar “came to play”
“After a poor showing in Iowa, Klobuchar has a lot on the line tonight and she came to play,” ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega said of the Minnesota lawmaker. “Trying to seize her moment in the spotlight as a moderate and introduce herself to NH voters. “59 is the new 38,” she said with a smile.”
8:26 p.m.: ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce: Joe Biden is “sharpening his attacks”
“Joe Biden has shied away from direct attacks in previous debates, no more,” ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce said of the former vice president who appears to have come in fourth place in the problem-plagued Iowa contests. “Biden tonight is clearly sharpening his attacks. He’s already going after Bernie Sanders over Medicare For All, hitting him on a lack of specifics, saying if you ask Sanders how much his plan will cost he said “go figure.” Biden is trying underscore his experience tonight, saying he “busted his neck” getting Obamacare passed.”
8:24 Buttigieg pitches his experience, rejects “politics of the past”
“Look, I freely admit that if you’re looking for the person with the most years of Washington establishment experience under their belt, you got your candidate, and of course it’s not me. The perspective I’m bringing is that of somebody whose life has been shaped by the decisions made in the big white buildings in Washington, D.C.,” the former South Bend, Indiana mayor said. “We need a perspective that will allow us to leave the politics of the past in the past, turn the page, and bring change to Washington.”
“Politics of the past were not all that bad,” Biden responds. “I don’t know what about the past of Barack Obama and Joe Biden was so bad.”
Buttigieg returned with: “Those achievements were phenomenally important because they met the moment. But now we have to meet this moment. And this moment is different.” “We have to be ready to turn the page and change our politics before it’s too late.”
8:24 p.m. Klobuchar hits Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg on Medicare for All
Amid a heated exchange on healthcare, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar slammed a slate of her Democratic rivals in an effort to differentiate her candidacy from the others.
“I keep listening to this same debate, and it is not real,” she said on the debate over health care. “It is not real, Bernie, because two-thirds of the Democrats in the Senate are not on your bill and because it would kick 149 million Americans off their current health insurance in four years. And let me say what else. Elizabeth wants to do it in two years. And Pete, you sent out a tweet just a few years ago that said affirmatively you are for Medicare for All for the ages. So I would like to point out that worship is taking a position, looking at things and sticking with them.”
8:23 p.m.: ABC News Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd: Biden should trade process arguments for a vision
“Joe Biden, if he is going to win tonight, needs to stop the process arguments and present a vision,” ABC News Chief Political Analyst Matthew Down said. “His entire first answer was on process.”
8:22 p.m.: Senator Bernie Sanders receives punches from all sides
“Sanders clearly the main target so far,” ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega said. “Taking hits from all sides forced to defend his stance on socialism. And he came ready to fight back.”
8:20 p.m.: ABC News Contributor Chris Christie question Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s response
“What did Mayor Pete just say? My goodness, he uses more words to say nothing than anyone on that stage,” ABC News Contributor Chris Christie said.
8:20 p.m. Buttigieg, one of potentially two winners out of Iowa, touts unity, while targeting Sanders
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg pivoted away from a direct hit on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, when asked about the label of socalism, saying, “I’m not interested in labels. I’m not interested in what Republicans are going to say. I’m interested in the style of politics that we need to put forward to actually, finally turn the page.”
“So the biggest risk we could take at a time like this would be to go up against that fundamentally new challenge by trying to fall back on the familiar or trying to unite this country at a moment when we need that kind of unification when our nominee is dividing people with a politics that said if you don’t vote all the way to the edge, it doesn’t count,” he continued. But when pressed if he is talking about Sanders, the other possible winner in Iowa, Buttigieg said “yes.”
“Because we’ve got to bring as many people as we can into this process. Look, all of us have been saying that we can build the majority that it’s going to take in order to win. But the process of actually proving it is now underway,” he said.
“And now it comes to New Hampshire, a state that thinks for itself, is not going to be told what to do by anyone and that has a very independent streak that is going to respond to those who are reaching out in a politics of addition and inclusion and belonging. Not one that beats people over the head and said they shouldn’t even be on our side if we don’t agree 100 percent of the time,” he added.
But Sanders dismissed Buttigieg’s first line of attack, responding with his own swipe, “Needless to say, I’ve never said that. But let me tell you what I do say. The way you bring people together is by presenting an agenda that works for the working people of this country, not for the billionaire class.”
8:18 Biden and Bernie spar on Medicare-for-All
ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asks Biden how he’ll unify the country, and he takes a aim at Sanders and Medicare-for-All, an issue that has been a particular dividing line for moderate versus progressive candidates in the race.
“Bernie said tough bring people together, and you have to have medicare for all, but Bernie said — and he said he wrote the damn thing — but can’t say what the damn thing is going to cost,” Biden said. “Who do you think it going to get the passed? I busted my neck getting Obamacare passed. I know how hard it is.”
8:18 p.m. Yang returns to debate stage as only person of color
“First let me say, America, it’s great to be back on the debate stage,” tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang said on his return, after failing to quality for the DNC’s January debate in Iowa. He is the only candidate of color left in the Democratic race for president– a dwindling which has been a source of criticism both of the DNC’s debate qualifying rules process and former candidates.
8:16 p.m.: ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz takes a closer look at the Warren and Sanders relationship
Last debate, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders sparred over the possibility of a woman winning the presidency. ABC News Chief Global Affair Correspondent Martha Raddatz said it looks like Senator Warren is putting that fight behind her: “Warren putting Bernie fights behind her? First thing she said is she and Bernie are friends” she said.
8:11 p.m. For some candidates, this is a make or break moment
For three of the seven candidates, the debate and Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary could be a final make-or-break moment for their campaigns as the field will likely winnow after more contests.
8:10 p.m. Klobuchar expresses concerns over nominating a ‘Democratic Socialist’
ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked all the candidates on stage if any of them are concerned about having a democratic socialist at the top of the Democratic ticket?
Amy Klobuchar’s hand shot up, taking aim at Bernie Sanders’ self-imposed label of “Democratic Socialist.”
“Bernie and I work together all the time, but I think we are not going to be able to out divide the divider in chief,” she said. “I think we need someone to head up this ticket that actually brings people with her instead of shutting them out…And truthfully, Donald Trump’s worst nightmare is a candidate that will bring people in from the middle, the people that are tired of the noise and the nonsense and they are tired of the tweets and the mean stuff and they are looking for someone else. I would submit that that is me.”
8:07 p.m. Sanders on uniting behind nominee and young voter turnout
“We got to bring young people in the political process,” former Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said when asked how to counter Trump’s hit on Democratic socialism. “I’m very proud that in Iowa we won the popular vote by 6,000 votes, but what was most significant is we increased voter turnout for young people under 29 by over 30%.”
“Young people came out in higher numbers [in 2016] than they did during Obama’s historic 2008 campaign, and if that happens nationally we’re going win and defeat Trump,” he added.
8:05 p.m. Joe Biden tackles poor performance in Iowa
Despite the Iowa caucuses delivering a split decision between former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden took on his expected fourth place finish in the first-in-the-caucus state.
When asked what risk Iowa Democrats missed, a nod to his remark that Democrats are taking too big a risk if they nominate Sanders Buttigieg, Biden said, “Oh, they didn’t miss anything. This is a long, a long race. I took a hit in Iowa and I’ll probably take a hit here.”
“No matter what, I’m still in this for the same reason,” he continued. “We have to restore the soul of this country.”
8:03 p.m. The candidates are now taking the stage
The candidates are now taking the stage.
8:00 p.m. ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos kicks off the night
“The race is on, the first votes have been cast, and tonight, the candidates are here,” ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos said. “Our New Hampshire debate starts right now.”
8 p.m. The Democratic debate is now underway
The Democratic debate is now underway.
7:48 p.m. Moderators are in place and the candidates are backstage
The moderators are in place and the candidates are backstage. As a reminder:
The debate will be moderated by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” Anchor and Managing Editor David Muir and ABC News Live Anchor Linsey Davis. They will be joined in questioning by WMUR-TV Political Director Adam Sexton and WMUR-TV News Anchor Monica Hernandez.
The following candidates will appear on stage, from left to right as viewed by the audience:
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Businessman Tom Steyer
7:45 p.m. ABC News Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd calls Biden’s electability argument a “flawed strategy”
“Joe Biden made a fundamental, flawed strategy, which is why he’s in the position he’s in,” ABC News Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd said breaking down the former vice president’s fourth place finish in Iowa and track for a potential third place finish in New Hampshire. “You can no longer present yourself as the most electable candidate.”
7:36 p.m. Check out ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight’s live blog analysis
ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight offers live blog analysis throughout the debate. Check them out here.
7:35 p.m. DNC Chairman Tom Perez looks past the primary season and towards the general election
“No matter what happens over the next three months, I want us to never lose sight of our ultimate goal: winning on Nov. 3, ending the worst presidency in American history,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez told audience members ahead of tonight’s debate. “That’s what we will do in 270 days.”
7:31 p.m. DNC chairman fires up crowd with speech about unity
Amid the infighting between some of the perceived front-runners in the wake of the still fully undecided contest in Iowa, Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman urged unity. “When we are united, there is nothing we can’t accomplish,” . “When we are united, we can tackle the opioid crisis here in New Hampshire that has taken so many lives and that the president has made worse. … We can end gun violence, we can address climate change for real. We can fight,” he said.
DNC Chair Tom Perez: “I saw some Republicans, and you may have seen them too, criticizing Nancy Pelosi for tearing up Donald Trump’s speech.”
7: 30 p.m.“World News Tonight” Anchor and Managing Editor David Muir offers insight into how local leaders see the debate
World News Tonight” Anchor and Managing Editor David Muir offers insight into how local leaders see the debate.
“Local party leaders are calling this the most consequential debate they’ve ever had ahead of the New Hampshire primary, given the mess after the Iowa caucus; given the fact there’s no real front-runner.”
7:18 p.m. Supporters line up in the cold in New Hampshire
Check out these great shots of candidates’ supporters braving the winter weather to show their support.
And here too.
7:18 p.m. Chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party: Stakes are high ahead of NH primary elections
“This is going to be the most consequential New Hampshire primary debate in history,” Raymond Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said.
7:16 p.m. Here’s how to watch the ABC News debate
Friday’s Democratic debate, hosted by ABC News and its Manchester, NH-based affiliate WMUR-TV, caps a tumultuous political week that included the highly contentious and deeply partisan impeachment trial of President Trump and the problem-plagued Iowa caucuses.
Without a clear front-runner, the debate in New Hampshire is the last chance for Democrats to make their case before the first-in-the-nation primary there next week.
ABC News will also be collaborating with Apple News for the event. For the first time, Apple News will provide real-time updates during a live television news event. While watching the debate on ABC News, viewers can go to the Apple News app on their iPhones and iPads to get real-time reporting, analysis and explainer guides from ABC News’ top correspondents and experts.
Read more about this unique viewing experience here.
7:15 p.m. ABC News Contributor Chris Christie said the spotlight is on Buttigieg
“What I would be focused on tonight is can Pete Buttigieg show that he’s real?” ABC News Contributor Chris Christie said, adding that attention will be on the former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor following his performance in Iowa. “More than just play defense, Pete Buttigieg has to explain to people tonight why he should be the nominee, why he’s the best person to take on Trump. I don’t know if he’s made that case yet.”
6:54 p.m. Bidens bringing Gold Star sister whose brother was killed in Afghanistan as their guest to tonight’s debate
Per the Biden campaign, Joe and Jill Biden’s guest at tonight’s debate in Manchester, New Hampshire will be Stephanie Oulette, a Gold Star sister whose brother was killed in the line of duty while serving in Afghanistan.
Marine Cpl. Michael Ouellette of Manchester was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated underneath him while he was patrolling in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on March 22, 2009. Cpl. Ouellette continued to lead his squad by directing fire from his riflemen and calling in the ambush over the radio, despite his mortal wounds. Ouellette succumbed to his injuries as he was evacuated from the battlefield. His mother, Donna Ouellette, was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously in 2010.
ABC News’ Johnny Verhovek reported.
6:51 p.m. Trump Victory raises at least $25 million from 300 bundlers on Friday
President Donald Trump’s big-dollar fundraising vehicle Trump Victory raised at least $25 million on Friday after more than 300 allies of the president gathered at Mar-a-Lago for a donor “call day,” two sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.
Among the bundlers that made calls on Friday to raise money for the president are President Trump’s family members — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Lara Trump — as well as his current and former campaign officials — Kimberly Guilfoyle, David Bossie, Corey Lewandowski and RNC chair Ronna McDaniel.
ABC News’ Will Steakin and Soorin Kim reported
6:46 p.m. Buttigieg releases new fundraising numbers
The Buttigieg campaign updates their fundraising numbers, telling ABC News they’ve raised $4 million since Tuesday at 12:01am. $1 million was raised in the last 24 hours. The campaign said 33% of that is from 30,000 new donors. Because of this new influx of cash, the campaign said they’ll be launching paid digital ad programs in Nevada and South Carolina beginning tomorrow.
ABC News’ Justin Gomez reported.
6:45 p.m. The Democratic debate is about to get underway in just over an hour
The matchup, hosted by ABC News, WMUR-TV, and Apple News, comes only four days after the Iowa caucuses and less than a week before Granite State voters head to the polls on Tuesday — marking one of their last opportunities to pitch a decisive electorate on why they should be the nominee in July.
Here is the podium order for the qualifying candidates, from left to right as viewed by the audience:
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Businessman Tom Steyer
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