Good evening, and welcome to NPI’s live coverage of the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2016 cycle. NPI staff and board members are at watch parties around the Sound and will be sharing their impressions of the debate as it progresses. The debate is being broadcast by CNN, both on cable and on the Web.
Candidates participating in tonight’s debate include Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, and James Webb.
Let’s get started!
UPDATE, 5:33 PM: CNN is currently airing its preshow. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke to the crowd in Las Vegas and introduced a video message from President Barack Obama, who exhorted Democrats to work hard to elect a Democrat to the White House in 2016.
UPDATE, 5:40 PM: Here we go! Anderson Cooper is introducing the moderators.
UPDATE, 5:42 PM: Finally, all the CNN self-promotional nonsense is over…. time for the singing of the National Anthem.
UPDATE, 5:45 PM: CNN is squeezing in one last commercial break before actually beginning the debate.
UPDATE, 5:48 PM: We’re back, finally. CNN’s Anderson Cooper is explaining the ground rules.
UPDATE, 5:50 PM: Former Rhode Island Governor and ex-Republican Lincoln Chafee gets to make his introduction first. He’s touting his experience as a mayor, senator, and governor. “I believe in prosperity through peace,” he says.
UPDATE, 5:52 PM: Former U.S. Senator James Webb, who represented Virginia for six years in Congress, is the second candidate to speak. He’s stressing his non-political experience, including his service as a military leader in Pentagon.
UPDATE, 5:53 PM: Martin O’Malley is the third candidate to speak. “After fifteen years of executive experience, I have learned how to be an effective leader,” he says, summarizing his accomplishments as Governor of Maryland.
UPDATE, 5:54 PM: “Our economy isn’t money, it’s people,” O’Malley says, making a cogent point.
UPDATE, 5:56 PM: And now, Senator Bernie Sanders is up. He wasted no time in pointing out that our country is suffering from income inequality and the influence of big money in elections.
UPDATE, 5:56 PM: “We have a moral responsibility to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels,” Sanders says.
UPDATE, 6:02 PM: Last but certainly not least, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As expected, she introduced herself as a grandmother and an advocate for higher wages for America’s workers. She used her time effectively to talk about her campaign platform and values.
UPDATE, 6:02 PM: First question goes to Hillary Clinton — it’s a hostile question that boils down to, does Clinton change her political identity based on who she’s talking to?
UPDATE, 6:03 PM: “I’m a progressive who likes to get things done,” Clinton says, when asked a follow-up, “Are you a progressive or are you a moderate?”
UPDATE, 6:04 PM: Cooper turns to Bernie Sanders next, and asks how he expects to get elected given that he calls himself a democratic socialist.
UPDATE, 6:06 PM: Cooper’s follow-up is a joke: Do Sanders’ views give Republicans ammunition for attack ads? Sanders pivots to talking about voter turnout, and notes that Republicans win when people don’t vote.
UPDATE, 6:07 PM: Clinton and Sanders agree: our small and medium size businesses are the backbone of our economy.
UPDATE, 6:09 PM: Turning his attention to Lincoln Chafee, Cooper asks why Chafee has changed parties. The former governor responded by describing himself as a “block of granite” on the issues.
UPDATE, 6:10 PM: Martin O’Malley is the next candidate to be challenged. Cooper asks why Americans should trust him to run the country given the problems that the city of Baltimore, which he previously led, has had.
UPDATE, 6:11 PM: O’Malley says under his tenure as Mayor of Baltimore, policing improved and peace was restored in troubled neighborhoods. “We saved a lot of lives,” O’Malley says.
UPDATE, 6:12 PM: Cooper asks Webb about his past statements condemning affirmative action.
UPDATE, 6:12 PM: “I have always supported affirmative action for African-Americans,” Webb says.
UPDATE, 6:15 PM: Anderson Cooper moves on to the issue of gun violence, and asks Sanders whether he wants to shield gun companies from legal responsibility for mass shootings? Sanders replies: Of course not.
UPDATE, 6:15 PM: “Is Bernie Sanders tough enough on guns,” Cooper asks Hillary Clinton. “No,” she says.
UPDATE, 6:16 PM: Sanders responds to Clinton’s criticism, saying all the shouting in the world won’t stop gun violence and keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
UPDATE, 6:18 PM: O’Malley’s turn. He notes he’s actually toughened gun responsibility laws as Governor of Maryland. Clinton nods as O’Malley decries the influence of the National Rifle Association.
UPDATE, 6:20 PM: As Sanders and O’Malley get into a back and forth over gun responsibility, Hillary Clinton smiles broadly, positioned in between.
UPDATE, 6:23 PM: Anderson Cooper shift gears to foreign policy, asking what the candidates’ response to Vladimir Putin would be.
UPDATE, 6:24 PM: “When you’re talking about Syria, you’re talking about a quagmire within a quagmire,” notes Bernie Sanders.
UPDATE, 6:24 PM: Sanders calls Iraq “the worst foreign policy blunder in American history.”
UPDATE, 6:27 PM: Clinton admirably fielded a question about whether her judgment can be trusted, noting that President Obama chose her to be his first Secretary of State.
UPDATE, 6:30 PM: Martin O’Malley says people remain angry about Iraq because they feel that Congress was railroaded into making a terrible decision based on war hype and polls.
UPDATE, 6:32 PM: Clinton cheekily thanks O’Malley for his endorsement in 2008 and then proceeds to defend her position in favor of a no-fly zone in Syria.
UPDATE, 6:39 PM: Webb says he is the candidate who is most qualified to be Commander-in-Chief.
UPDATE, 6:40 PM: Sanders: “I am prepared to take this country into war if necessary.”
UPDATE, 6:42 PM: CNN heads to its first mid-debate commercial break.
UPDATE, 6:48 PM: Clinton calls the House Select Committee on Benghazi an arm of the Republican National Committee — which we all know is true.
UPDATE, 6:49 PM: “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders says, getting a big smile out of Clinton.
UPDATE, 6:50 PM: Sanders and Clinton shake hands, smiling, after Sanders goes after the media for not talking about the real issues. Many Democrats in the audience jumped to their feet.
UPDATE, 6:53 PM: O’Malley refuses to take Anderson Cooper’s bait, and instead seizes an opportunity to criticize DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz regarding the 2016 Democratic presidential debate.
UPDATE, 6:58 PM: Anderson Cooper asks Bernie Sanders about one of the issues he talks about often: income inequality. What would Sanders do about income inequality that Obama hasn’t done? Sanders notes that when Obama took office, he inherited a horrible mess left by George W. Bush.
UPDATE, 6:59 PM: O’Malley covers a previous campaign trail gaffe by showing his understanding for the need to bring attention to institutional racism in his response to the question “Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?”
UPDATE, 6:59 PM: Martin O’Malley calls for the restoration of Glass-Steagall. We need a firewall between commercial and investment banking.
UPDATE, 7:02 PM: Clinton says her plan to hold big banks accountable is more comprehensive than that of the other candidates. She notes there are large financial institutions like AIG that need to be reined in as well.
UPDATE, 7:03 PM: “If you only look at the big banks, you may be missing the forest for the trees,” Clinton says. Sanders retorts by declaring, “Wall Street regulates Congress.”
UPDATE, 7:07 PM: Sanders clearly doesn’t regret his vote against the 2008 bank bailout.
UPDATE, 7:14 PM: Bernie Sanders calls for scrapping the cap on taxable earnings for social security, while Clinton avoids specifics on social security expansion.
UPDATE, 7:16 PM: Sanders acquits himself well in response to a question about why he voted against a Bush error immigration proposal in 2007, noting that he was opposed because the Southern Poverty Law Center analyzed the bill’s guest worker provision to be equivalent to wage slavery.
UPDATE, 7:17 PM: “I am for a generous, compassionate America that says we’re all in this together,” Martin O’Malley says, articulating a strong progressive position of immigration.
UPDATE, 7:18 PM: Hillary Clinton notes that there’s a huge difference between what the Democratic candidates are saying on immigration versus the Republicans.
UPDATE, 7:19 PM: O’Malley slams Trump as “a carnival barker in the Republican Party”. Was hoping somebody was going to do that.
UPDATE, 7:21 PM: Asked about the Patriot Act, Lincoln Chafee replies, “That was another 1999–2001 vote…” He’s not doing very well tonight.
UPDATE, 7:23 PM: Continuing a discussion about the Patriot Act, Sanders says he would absolutely shut down the NSA’s unconstitutional mass surveillance programs, which violate the Fourth Amendment.
UPDATE, 7:27 PM: “I think being the first woman president would be quite a change,” Hillary Clinton says with a broad smile, when asked if she is running for Obama’s third term.
UPDATE, 7:29 PM: Sanders explains that by revolution, he means people participating in our democracy.
UPDATE, 7:35 PM: Anderson Cooper veers away from the issues again and asks why Democrats should embrace an insider like Clinton. Stupid question.
UPDATE, 7:36 PM: “I would not ask anyone to vote for me based on my last name,” Clinton says, delivering a great response to Martin O’Malley.
UPDATE, 7:37 PM: “I think there is profound frustration all over this country with establishment politics… I do not have a Super PAC,” Bernie Sanders notes, mentioning that his campaign has organized thousands of watch parties all over the country.
UPDATE, 7:38 PM: In response to a question about combating the climate crisis, Martin O’Malley says he has a plan to move America to a completely clean electric grid by 2050.
UPDATE, 7:39 PM: James Webb parrots a talking point from the Obama administration and starts talking about an “all of the above energy strategy”. An old and tired phrase.
UPDATE, 7:41 PM: Sanders says he agrees with Pope Francis that combating the climate crisis is a moral issue. He notes that fossil fuel companies are financing Republican candidates, and that money in politics is thus a related problem.
UPDATE, 7:45 PM: Clinton hits a home run with her answer defending paid family leave.
UPDATE, 7:45 PM: O’Malley, Sanders, and Clinton all agree: We should have paid family leave.
UPDATE, 7:46 PM: It’s time to rethink the failed “war on drugs”, Bernie Sanders says.
UPDATE, 7:47 PM: Sanders offers lukewarm endorsement of recreation cannabis when asked about Nevada’s legalization initiative. Clinton declines to take a stance.
UPDATE, 7:54 PM: Final question: Which political enemy are you most proud of? Chafee: The coal lobby. O’Malley: The National Rifle Association. Hillary Clinton: The drug companies, the Iranians, the Republicans. Sanders: Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry.
UPDATE, 7:55 PM: Chafee reminds us again how proud he is that he has had no scandals.
UPDATE, 7:56 PM: In his closing remarks, Webb says he’s always been willing to take complicated, difficult issues and work them through to find a solution.
UPDATE, 7:58 PM: O’Malley says he’s grateful for the chance to stand on a stage with other qualified and distinguished candidates for President.
UPDATE, 8:00 PM: Sanders says there’s no way just one person can address the tough challenges facing America… it’s going to take a movement. And he’s correct on that score.
UPDATE, 8:02 PM: “My mission as President will be to raise incomes for middle American families,” Clinton says in her closing remarks.
UPDATE, 8:10 PM: And we’re done with all the closing statements! Thanks for following along with us tonight for the first Democratic debate of 2016.