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Democrats Clash on Race, Socialism in Fiery Debate

Harris challenged Biden on his record
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2019 8:44 PM CDT
Second Democratic Debate Kicks Off in Miami
Democratic presidential candidates wave as they enter the stage for the second night of the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Miami.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(Newser) – Ten more Democrats vying to take on President Trump clashed in a debate in Miami Thursday night that featured more fiery moments than Wednesday's 10-candidate debate. The second night of Democratic debates included frontrunner Joe Biden and fellow high-polling candidates Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg. Andrew Yang, Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Williamson, John Hickenlooper, Eric Swalwell, and Michael Bennett were also onstage, looking for a chance to raise their profiles. More:

  • Sanders acknowledged that his plan to expand government services would result in tax hikes for the middle class, but he said people would still be better off, the Washington Post reports. "Yes, they will pay more in taxes but less in health care," he said.
  • Biden got an early shot in at Trump, the Hill reports. Less than five minutes in, the former vice president said: "Donald Trump thinks Wall Street built America. Ordinary middle-class Americans built America."
  • Hickenlooper clashed with Sanders on socialism, arguing that the label could doom Democrats to defeat. "The bottom line is, if we don’t clearly define that we are not socialists, the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialists," he said.

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  • The 38-year-old Swalwell made the 76-year-old Biden's age an issue, saying Biden was right 32 years ago when he said it was "time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans," the AP reports. As Sanders and other candidates chimed in, Harris interjected: "Hey guys. You wanna know what America does not want to witness, a food fight. They want to know how they're going to put food on the table."
  • As happened Wednesday night, the candidates were asked if they supported abolishing private health care in favor of a government-run program. Sanders and Harris were the only ones to raise their hands. Sanders spoke passionately about his Medicare for all plan, but didn't answer a question on how much it would cost.
  • Some candidates brought up their own stories when talking about health care: Biden spoke of the death of his first wife, baby daughter, and adult son, while Buttigieg discussed the death of his father earlier this year.
  • In another show-of-hands question, all 10 candidates supporting providing health care to undocumented immigrants, the Guardian reports. Buttigieg argued that immigrants, even undocumented ones, pay taxes and are part of society. Trump tweeted: "How about taking care of American Citizens first!? That’s the end of that race!"
  • On immigration, Biden said he would invest in Central America, while Sanders said he would repeal "every damn thing" Trump has done on immigration, the AP reports. Harris said that on her first day in office, she would help people brought to the US illegally become citizens. Asked if they would make crossing the border illegally a civil offense, not a criminal one, Bennett was the only candidate not to raise his hand.
  • Yang and Bennett were among those to speak about the threat from Russia and China. Russia is "our greatest geopolitical threat because they've been hacking our democracy successfully," Yang said.
  • On racism, Buttigieg said he couldn't go into detail about the recent police shooting of a black man in South Bend, Indiana, where he is mayor, but he said systemic racism was the problem.
  • In one of the debate's biggest moments, Harris—saying "As the only African-American on stage, I would like to speak"—targeted Biden's record on racial issues, saying it was hurtful to hear him talk about working with segregationist lawmakers, the Guardian eports. She also brought up his opposition to busing to end school segregation.
  • On abortion rights, Sanders promised: "My litmus test is I will never nominate any justice to the Supreme Court unless it is 100% that he or she will defend Roe v. Wade."
  • Asked about climate change, Biden promised to fund billions in scientific research to deal with the crisis, adding that he has dealmaking experience that other candidates lack, reports the Post.
  • Asked for one or two-word answers on what their first priority would be, most candidates completely ignored the world limit. Gillibrand spoke of a "family bill of rights," Sanders called for a "political revolution," while Williamson said she would call New Zealand's prime minister to say that America is now the best place in the world to bring up a child.
  • The candidates agreed on the need for gun control but not on specific measures, the AP reports. "Keep your pistols, keep your rifles, keep your shotguns," said Swalwell, calling for an assault weapon buyback. "But we can take the most dangerous weapons from the most dangerous people."
  • Biden said that when he was in government, he helped bring 100,000 troops, including his son, back from Iraq. Sanders reminded viewers that, unlike him, Biden voted to authorize military action.
  • In closing remarks, Biden said: "It’s important to restore the soul of this nation. The president has ripped it out." Gillibrand said: "Women in America are on fire, but our rights are under attack. I will take on the fights no one else will." Hickenlooper criticized socialism again, while Harris promised to lead with dignity and honesty. Sanders vowed to take on Wall Street and Buttigieg said politics was not "theoretical" for him because he fought in Iraq and is in "a marriage that exists by a single vote on the Supreme Court."
(Read more Democratic debate stories.)

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