Takeaways from the New Hampshire Democratic Debate
(MANCHESTER) -- Just four days before the New Hampshire primary, seven candidates took the stage in The Granite State for one of their final moments to pitch themselves as the best Democratic choice for the 2020 election.
Despite an initial call of unity from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, at the beginning of the debate, it didn't take long for the opponents to take aim against one another.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was a target after he and Sanders finished as the two possible winners out of Iowa. Buttigieg and Sanders both had 26% of the vote, according to the Iowa Democratic Party. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, had 18% and former Vice President Joe Biden had 16%, the results showed.
In a striking moment, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota compared the former mayor's popularity to President Donald Trump's in 2016. "We have a cool newcomer in the White House and look where it got us," she said.
Biden described him as "a mayor of a small city who has done some good things but has not demonstrated he has the ability to -- and we'll soon find out -- to get a broad scope of support across the spectrum including African-Americans and Latinos."
Sanders also faced heat. Buttigieg went after Sanders for what he described as "politics that says if you don't vote all the way to the edge, it doesn't count."
When asked if Buttigieg was referring to Sanders, he replied, "yes."
Klobuchar similarly said that she thinks the country needs someone who "actually brings people with her instead of shutting them out." She was responding to a question of whether or not anyone on stage was nervous about having a democratic socialist at the top of the ticket.
Two days earlier, former Vice President Joe Biden launched an attack at Sanders for an embrace of a "socialist" label.
At the debate, Biden took aim at Sanders over health care and how much it would cost.
"He said, 'We'll find out,' or something to that effect. Imagine you're going to unite the country walking into the congress saying I got this bill that's going to require Medicare for everybody. I can't tell you how much it's going to cost. We'll find out later," Biden said.
In one of the first moments on stage, Klobuchar point-blank said Americans are looking for someone who can attract the middle and not shut voters out.
"And I would submit that is me," Klobuchar said.
She also wasn't afraid to make cases against her opponents.
In defense of the Affordable Care Act, Klobuchar launched an attack against Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg.
"I keep listening to this same debate, and it is not real," she said. "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."
He noted it might be "too little, too late," but said, "she is shining here tonight."
Race makes its way into the conversation
Nearly 90 minutes into the debate -- of which there was only one person of color -- the topic of race was brought up after billionaire Tom Steyer criticized his party for not talking about it before.
"We're in trouble," Steyer said. "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."
Klobuchar later took the opportunity to speak about 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," she said.
Health care once more took center stage at the Democratic debate.
Sanders found himself defending his Medicare-for-all bill against moderate candidates Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar, all of whom decried it as a longshot.
"Bernie says that you have to bring people together, and we have to have Medicare for All. But Bernie says, and he says he wrote the damn thing, but he's unwilling to tell us what the damn thing's gonna cost," Biden said.
Sanders hit back saying that Biden's plan would cost $50 trillion on health care over the next 10 years.
"We are spending twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other country. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the healthcare industry last year made $100 billion in profits," Sanders said.
Buttigieg admitted that while the majority of Americans are ready to make sure there is no such thing as an uninsured American, "I think there's a better way. You know, it's true, the American people are ready. … Just so long as we don't command people to accept a public plan if they don't want to."
Biden touts his record after disappointing Iowa results
Biden used his onstage moment to come back from disappointing results in Iowa.
Aggressively touting his record, Biden said he "busted his neck" getting Obamacare passed, is the "only guy that beat the NRA twice" and is someone "guy who's already begun to make a downpayment" on the opioid crisis.
He also went after Buttigieg and Sanders -- the two top contenders from the caucuses. The former VP said Buttigieg did not have enough experience, while he slammed Sanders for not being upfront about how much Medicare for All would cost.
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