The first question was to Elizabeth Warren: Could her policy plans hurt the economy?
Democratic debate live updates: If elected, what would candidates do on day 1?
The candidates on stage tonight: Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Julián Castro, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee and John Delaney.
Savannah Guthrie of NBC asked, “You have many plans, free college, free child care, government health care, cancellation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the break up of major corporations. Seventy-one percent of Americans say the economy is doing well, including 60% of Democrats. What do you say to those who worry this significant change could be risky to the economy?”
Warren replied that the economy is “doing great” for a “thinner and thinner slice at the top,” from “giant oil companies” to “people who want to invest in private prisons. Just not for African Americans and Latinx whose families are torn apart, lives destroyed, communities ruined.”
“We need to make structural change in our government, in our economy and in our country,” Warren said.
Klobuchar, offered a chance to critique Warren’s plans, offered a relatively gentle jab at the plans of liberal candidates like Warren to make college tuition-free.
“I do get concerned about paying for college for rich kids. I do,” Klobuchar said. But then she pivoted to attack President Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump just sits in the White House and gloats about what’s going on” in the economy, she said.
Booker later got a question about tech companies and some of Warren’s rhetoric about breaking them up. Booker also took a pass at directly disagreeing with Warren.
The early stages of this debate: Very civil.
The candidates try to outdo each other on abortion rights.
After Inslee highlighted his record of defending abortion rights as governor, Klobuchar shot back, “I just want to say that there are three women up here who have fought pretty hard for women’s right to choose.”
She was joined onstage by Warren and Gabbard. Three more women candidates will appear onstage Thursday: Harris, Gillibrand and Williamson.
Democrat after Democrat chimed in to flash their bona fides on abortion, one of the most hot button issues in the nation.
“I don’t believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice,” Castro said to relatively loud applause. He went on, “What that means is that just because a woman — or let’s not forget someone in the transcommunity, a transfemale — is poor, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to exercise that right to choose.”
Warren added on, “It’s not enough for us to expect the courts to protect us.” She called to make Roe v. Wade a “federal law” as “state after state undermined Roe.”
Democrats blast Trump’s handling of tensions with Iran
Booker, who faced fierce backlash from some of his constituents when he ultimately supported the Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration, was the only one onstage not to raise his hand when the candidates were asked who would sign on to the 2015 nuclear deal as originally negotiated.
Trump pulled out of that deal and recently tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated.
“We need to renegotiate and get back into the deal, but I’m not going to have a primary platform to say unilaterally I’m going to rejoin that deal,” Booker said.
Klobuchar has also been critical of the deal. She called it “imperfect, but it was a good deal for that moment.”
She lamented that under Trump, the country is “one tweet away from going to war.”
Klobuchar said she didn’t think that the country “should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5 a.m.”
Gabbard, a veteran who is also known for her controversial overtures toward the Syrian government which has been accused of major human rights violations, was adamant in her position: “No war with Iran.”
“This president and his chicken hawk cabinet have led us to the brink of war with Iran,” she said. She called for a de-escalation of tensions and said that “Trump needs to get back in the Iran nuclear deal.”
Castro and O’Rourke — the Texans — clash.
The two Texans on stage, Castro and O’Rourke, engaged in one of the most heated and detailed exchanges of the debate as they argued over immigration policy, as Castro pressed O’Rourke to go further, invoking specific code sections of immigration law that should be repealed.
O’Rourke, who represented the border city of El Paso in Congress, began his answer in Spanish — the second time he has done so. But as he transitioned to English, Castro sought to butt in, pressing him to endorse repealing a human trafficking provision used to justify actions at the border.
O’Rourke declined to embrace what Castro was calling for, promising a comprehensive overhaul. As part of that, he said, “We would not detain any families, in fact fleeing the deadliest countries on the face of the planet today.”
Some Democrats have hoped either O’Rourke or Castro would run for Senate instead of president, and the exchange was a reminder of the sub-primaries within the broader primary.
Booker and O’Rourke speak en Español.
In his first question of the debate directed at him, O’Rourke chose to answer in two languages: English and Spanish.
But in neither language did O’Rourke answer the specific question — whether he would support the highest tax rate being 70%, even as Guthrie pushed to follow up. He called for a “fair” tax code and raising corporate tax rates.
Later, Booker answered a question about his day one immigration agenda in Spanish, as well.
“The situation now is unacceptable, this president has attacked, he has demonized immigrants. I am going to change this,” Booker said.
Warren and de Blasio raise their hands to abolish private health insurance.
After nearly 20 minutes of limited interaction between the candidates on stage, Lester Holt pulled out his first raise-your-hand question: Which candidates on stage support abolishing private health insurance companies in favor of a government-run plan.
Only two of the 10 candidates on the stage raised their hands high in the air: Warren and de Blasio.
Later, Warren explained why she embraced the so-called Medicare-for-All approach to health care, and criticized politicians who said it was unfeasible.
“What they’re really telling you is they just won’t fight for it,” she said. “Well, health care is a basic human right and I’ll fight for it.”
The crowd applauded.
“Private insurance is not working for tens of millions of Americans,” de Blasio later added.
For the first time, more than one woman takes part in presidential campaign debate.
Hillary Clinton competed in two cycles of presidential primary debates, in 2008 and 2016, and she was the only woman on stage both times. Most presidential campaigns since 2000 have had a female candidate running in one or both parties — until this year, when a record six women entered the race for the Democratic nomination.
So Wednesday night’s debate made history: instead of one woman on the presidential debate stage, there were three: Warren, Klobuchar and Gabbard.
Some Democratic activists and elected officials have expressed concerns that the women running for president are being overlooked by many voters and some donors, pointing to the fact that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have been leading in the polls and raising significant money.
The debates are the biggest chance yet for the six women to make the most of the national spotlight. Many of them have significant legislative and debate experience, and their supporters hope that their resumes and some of their personal characteristics that have received less attention — Klobuchar’s sense of humor, for example — may attract notice as well.
Thursday night’s debate will include Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Marianne Williamson.
Will Warren hit her rivals in absentia?
Warren has gained on Sanders in some polls as both fight for the mantle of progressive standard-bearer. And in recent weeks, Sanders and his allies have appeared to take some oblique swipes at her.
Warren was onstage Wednesday while Sanders won’t appear until Thursday — but it is worth watching whether Warren, directly or implicitly, proactively moves to draw contrasts with Sanders.
She has been more open in her differences with former Vice President Joe Biden, criticizing his high-dollar fundraising and his references last week to working with segregationists during his time in the Senate.
Biden wasn’t onstage with Warren either, but it will be notable if she sharpens her argument against him Wednesday.
Telemundo is co-hosting the debate.
Telemundo was the first Spanish-language network to co-host a Democratic presidential debate, bringing the candidates to thousands of Latino living rooms across the country and bringing Latinos’ concerns to prime time.
If there is a moment to address Latino voters, it’s this one. Moderators and candidates might frame their questions and responses to address the concerns of the Latino community a lot more than usual.
Immigration and the border and family separations are sure to come up. Health care and job security — Latino voter’s biggest concerns is likely to come up as well. Spanish-sprinkled answers are to be expected, especially from Castro and O’Rourke.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: