Podiums at the fourth Democratic debate
Podiums at the fourth Democratic debate

Good evening, and wel­come to NPI’s live cov­er­age of the first Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial debate of the 2020 cycle.

NPI staff are watch­ing and shar­ing impres­sions of the debate as it pro­gress­es, which will take place over the course of two nights in Mia­mi, Florida.

The for­mat is as follows:

Can­di­dates will have six­ty sec­onds to answer ques­tions and thir­ty sec­onds to respond to fol­low-ups. And there will be no open­ing state­ments, though can­di­dates will have a chance to deliv­er clos­ing remarks. The two-hour debates will zip by quick­ly, with five seg­ments each night sep­a­rat­ed by four com­mer­cial breaks.

Ten can­di­dates will face off each night on NBC News, MSNBC and Tele­mu­n­do after a total of twen­ty can­di­dates met the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Committee’s thresh­old for participation.

Our live cov­er­age begins below.

UPDATE, 4:50 PM (Andrew): It’s almost time for the debate to begin.

Tonight’s line­up of can­di­dates is:

  • Sen­a­tor Cory Booker
  • Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth Warren
  • For­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Beto O’™Rourke
  • Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar
  • For­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Delaney
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tul­si Gabbard
  • For­mer Hous­ing Sec­re­tary Julian Castro
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tim Ryan
  • New York City May­or Bill de Blasio
  • Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee

UPDATE, 4:55 PM (Andrew): Tele­vi­sion chan­nels air­ing the debate include NBC + MSNBC (Eng­lish), and Tele­mu­n­do (Span­ish). Check your provider’s line­up card or online line­up if you don’t know the chan­nel num­ber. You can also watch online: the debate will stream online free on NBC News’ dig­i­tal plat­forms, includ­ing NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps on Roku, Apple TV and Ama­zon Fire TV, in addi­tion to Telemundo’s dig­i­tal platforms.

UPDATE, 6:03 PM (Caitlin): The first Demo­c­ra­t­ic debate is under­way in Mia­mi with ten of the twen­ty 2020 demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates who met the fundrais­ing quo­ta. Some of the most watched can­di­dates debat­ing tonight include Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren, Sen­a­tor Cory Book­er and Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar. Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee is also on stage.

Immi­gra­tion, specif­i­cal­ly sur­round­ing the trou­bling treat­ment of migrant chil­dren at the bor­der, as well as ten­sions with Iran will be discussed.

UPDATE, 6:05 PM (Andrew): Eliz­a­beth War­ren just showed every­one why she’s a for­mi­da­ble can­di­date. That was a mas­ter­ful answer to a poor ini­tial ques­tion and an excel­lent exam­ple of how to reframe.

UPDATE, 6:09 PM (Andrew): We’re real­ly dis­ap­point­ed in the phras­ing of the ques­tions so far. But it’s good to see the can­di­dates are piv­ot­ing quick­ly and focus­ing on their val­ues as opposed to let­ting the mod­er­a­tors exploit their differences.

UPDATE, 6:11 PM (Andrew): We just heard the lamest mod­er­a­tor ques­tion so far from Savan­nah Guthrie (“Are you pick­ing win­ners and losers?”)

This phrase needs to be strick­en from jour­nal­ists’ lexicon.

UPDATE, 6:12 PM (Caitlin Har­ring­ton): Sen­a­tor War­ren got to open the debate when she was asked about her many plans to relieve American’s stu­dent loan debt, as well as Medicare For All and free col­lege. She rhetor­i­cal­ly asked who the econ­o­my is real­ly work­ing for and argued that, right now, it’s ben­e­fit­ing a slim­mer num­ber of Amer­i­cans, like CEOs of pri­vate corporations.

War­ren argued that elect­ed offi­cials in our nation’s cap­i­tal needs to call out all cor­rup­tion, tack­le it head on, and imple­ment struc­tur­al change in our country.

UPDATE, 6:14 PM (Andrew): We’re almost fif­teen min­utes in and Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee — the only gov­er­nor on the stage — has not got­ten a ques­tion yet.

UPDATE, 6:16 PM (Andrew): First ques­tion to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee is about income inequal­i­ty. He’s ready to go with an ener­getic, tur­bocharged answer about sup­port­ing work­ing fam­i­lies and orga­nized labor. Nice­ly done, Governor.

UPDATE, 6:18 PM (Caitlin): Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar was then asked about her pre­vi­ous state­ments that free col­lege tuition is great in the­o­ry but hard­er to imple­ment. Klobuchar spoke about her family’s his­to­ry get­ting degrees from com­mu­ni­ty col­leges. She pledged to dou­ble the amount of fund­ing that goes toward pro­grams help pay for tuition and she would make it eas­i­er for student’s to pay off stu­dent loan debt.

UPDATE, 6:19 PM (Andrew): War­ren is preach­ing Gov­er­nor Inslee’s clean ener­gy jobs gospel — effec­tive­ly, too — with this answer.

UPDATE, 6:21 PM (Andrew): “I’m with Bernie on Medicare For All,” Eliz­a­beth War­ren says. “Let me tell you why.” She’s doing extreme­ly well so far.

UPDATE, 6:23 PM (Caitlin): For­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Beto O’Rourke was asked about how some Democ­rats want a tax rate on those mak­ing over mil­lion a year. He start­ed by stat­ing that this econ­o­my has to work for everyone.

He then spoke in Span­ish before then switch­ing back to Eng­lish, say­ing that right now we have a sys­tem that’s rigged to the most wealth­i­est. He also assailed Trump’s tax scam before clos­ing with, “We each need to have a voice in this democ­ra­cy.” When pressed fur­ther if he sup­port­ed a spe­cif­ic tax amount, he con­tin­ued to elab­o­rate with­out actu­al­ly com­mit­ting to an amount.

UPDATE, 6:24 PM (Andrew): New York May­or Bill De Bla­sio just seized an open­ing and respond­ed to Beto O’Rourke’s answer on healthcare.

UPDATE, 6:26 PM (Andrew): Tul­si Gab­bard says employ­ers will rec­og­nize how much Medicare For All can save them if we embrace that approach.

UPDATE, 6:26 PM (Caitlin): Cory Book­er was asked about Warren’s plans to break up big tech after he had pre­vi­ous­ly been per­ceived as unsup­port­ive of her plan. Book­er coun­tered by say­ing he agrees cor­po­rate con­sol­i­da­tion was detri­men­tal to Amer­i­cans’ well­be­ing. He argued that it strips dig­ni­ty from labor and it doesn’t allow small busi­ness­es to com­pete. “I feel strong­ly about the need to check cor­po­rate con­sol­i­da­tion and let the free econ­o­my work,” said Booker.

“This econ­o­my is not work­ing for aver­age Americans.”

UPDATE, 6:28 PM (Andrew): Gov­er­nor Inslee just jumped in and declared that he’s the only can­di­date who has passed (actu­al­ly, signed) leg­is­la­tion pro­tect­ing women’s repro­duc­tive rights.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM (Caitlin): War­ren offered thoughts on break­ing up tech, argu­ing too much con­sol­i­da­tion hurts our econ­o­my and helps con­strict real inno­va­tion and growth. “We’ve had the laws out there for a long time to fight back, what’s miss­ing is courage in Wash­ing­ton to take on the giants,” she said.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM (Andrew): Lots of crosstalk at a few points so far in this debate.

UPDATE, 6:31 PM (Andrew): Cas­tro says he doesn’t just believe in repro­duc­tive free­dom… he believes in repro­duc­tive jus­tice. And he thought­ful­ly explained the dis­tinc­tion between those two concepts.

UPDATE, 6:32 PM (Caitlin): Equal pay was the next top­ic. Sen­a­tor Tul­si Gab­bard argued that tax dol­lars have been irre­spon­si­bly spent on unnec­es­sary wars, cit­ing her exten­sive career in the military.

She said that as pres­i­dent she would ensure Amer­i­cans’ tax dol­lars will be spent respon­si­bly, help­ing us towards equal pay for all.

UPDATE, 6:33 PM (Andrew): And now for the first com­mer­cial break… whew.

UPDATE, 6:35 PM (Caitlin): New York City May­or Bill de Bla­sio cit­ed his work to ensure a min­i­mum wage in NYC, as well as free sick days and pre‑k for all. He then went on to say that this is a “bat­tle for the heart and soul of our par­ty. This is sup­posed to be the par­ty of work­ing peo­ple.” He argued the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has to be strong, bold and pro­gres­sive. “We’ve proved we can do that in New York by invest­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

UPDATE, 6:36 PM (Caitlin): For­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Delaney argued that we need to do real things to help the Amer­i­can peo­ple reach equal pay, includ­ing dou­bling of the earned income tax brack­et and fix­ing the pub­lic edu­ca­tion system.

UPDATE, 6:39 PM (Caitlin): The equal pay dis­cus­sion keeps rolling on. Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee stat­ed he was proud to stand up for unions, that help us achieve equal pay. He con­tin­ued to say he would rein­vig­o­rate col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing as well as focus on cre­at­ing and hon­ing jobs of the present of the future. He attacked Trump, say­ing that wind tur­bines don’t cause can­cer and that they, in fact, cause jobs – build­ing them pro­vides clean ener­gy jobs of the future.

UPDATE, 6:41 PM (Caitlin): Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tim Ryan argued that the bot­tom 60% of Amer­i­cans haven’t seen a raise since 1980. “We need a pol­i­cy that says we need to dom­i­nate those (clean ener­gy) indus­tries, espe­cial­ly solar,” he said.

UPDATE, 6:43 PM (Andrew): It’s worth not­ing that this is a bilin­gual debate. You’ll nev­er heard mul­ti­ple Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates inter­act­ing with a debate mod­er­a­tor in Span­ish. This debate has also been notable for its focus on ideas as opposed to nasty per­son­al attacks and innuendo.

UPDATE, 6:44 PM (Andrew): Dur­ing the past few min­utes, Cas­tro and O’Rourke have repeat­ed­ly talked over each oth­er. It’s been hard at times to make out all the words they’re say­ing. Cas­tro is on the offen­sive against O’Rourke, press­ing his case for wel­com­ing new Amer­i­cans to our country.

UPDATE, 6:44 PM (Caitlin): When asked about bring jobs back to Amer­i­ca, War­ren spoke to the fact that giant cor­po­ra­tions have one loy­al­ty: to prof­its. If they can move jobs to save mon­ey, they’ll do it. “There’s going to be a world­wide need for green tech and we can be the ones to pro­vide that,” she said.

UPDATE, 6:46 PM (Caitlin): When the mod­er­a­tors asked for a show of hands in sup­port of Medicare For All, only De Bla­sio and War­ren raised their hands. Would have been nice to see ten hands. NPI research has found strong sup­port in Wash­ing­ton State favor­ing Medicare For All.

UPDATE, 6:48 PM (Caitlin): Klobuchar defend­ed her health­care stance by talk­ing about work she did when Oba­ma was try­ing to pass the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act and not­ing that a pub­lic option was part of the orig­i­nal plan — though it wasn’t in the final bill. “We can’t kick half of Amer­i­cans off their insur­ance in two years,” she argued. She argued that phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prices are the big­ger issue, with 2,500 dif­fer­ent drug prices that have gone up since Trump took over.

UPDATE, 6:49 PM (Andrew): Jay Inslee got an oppor­tu­ni­ty to tout his work in Wash­ing­ton State to pro­tect refugees, immi­grants, and asy­lum seek­ers. His track record on this issue is cer­tain­ly strong.

UPDATE, 6:52 PM (Caitlin): As men­tioned, War­ren stat­ed unequiv­o­cal­ly that she is “with Bernie” on Medicare For All. She argued that the cost of health­care is num­ber one rea­son for bank­rupt­cy – even if you have insur­ance. She argued that the pri­vate insur­ance indus­try does not ben­e­fit Americans.

UPDATE, 6:52 PM (Andrew): The mod­er­a­tors have shift­ed the debate to for­eign pol­i­cy. Cory Book­er explained why he didn’t raise his hand when the can­di­dates were asked about rejoin­ing the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action with Iran, which Don­ald Trump fool­ish­ly abandoned.

UPDATE, 6:54 PM (Caitlin): Dur­ing the health­care por­tion of the debate ear­li­er, O’Rourke said that guar­an­teed afford­able health­care for all Amer­i­cans as quick­ly as pos­si­ble has to be an imme­di­ate goal as president.

He went on to men­tion that this includes women mak­ing deci­sions about their own bod­ies. He was the first can­di­date to bring up repro­duc­tive rights.

He con­tend­ed that those who have nego­ti­at­ed good health­care, like union mem­bers, should be able to keep that cov­er­age, while those with insuf­fi­cient cov­er­age should be able to enroll in a pub­lic plan.

UPDATE, 6:54 PM (Caitlin): Tul­si Gab­bard chimed in, say­ing that we need to take the best of each approach (expand­ing Medicare and reform­ing the insur­ance indus­try) by focus­ing on a goal of tak­ing care of all Americans.

UPDATE, 6:56 PM (Andrew): The debate is halfway over; the sec­ond com­mer­cial break is cur­rent­ly airing.

UPDATE, 6:57 PM (Caitlin): Cory Book­er argued that health­care is con­nect­ed to oth­er issues. With­out prop­er cov­er­age, kids won’t suc­ceed in school and those work­ing will also not retain their employment.

He said it also affects those who are retired and cit­ed that African Amer­i­cans in his com­mu­ni­ty have a low­er life expectan­cy because of their health­care. “I’m not going to wait,” he said. “We have to do the things imme­di­ate­ly to pro­vide bet­ter care. Too many peo­ple are prof­i­teer­ing off the pain of Americans.”

UPDATE, 6:58 PM (Caitlin): War­ren point­ed out that last year, big com­pa­nies steered bil­lions of dol­lars into their cof­fers instead of into health­care for Amer­i­cans. She also said that this num­ber doesn’t count lob­by­ing mon­ey or exec­u­tives’ salaries. “It’s time for us to make fam­i­lies come first,” she insisted.

UPDATE, 7:00 PM (Caitlin): Gov­er­nor Inslee empha­sized how he has increased access to health­care here in Wash­ing­ton State, which is under Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol. He signed a law that pre­serves a woman’s right to access repro­duc­tive health care, as well as imple­ment­ing a pub­lic option in the state.

UPDATE, 7:01 PM (Caitlin): As men­tioned, Cas­tro stressed that we need not just repro­duc­tive free­dom but repro­duc­tive jus­tice, includ­ing for those in the trans com­mu­ni­ty. He argued that being poor should not lim­it you from exer­cis­ing repro­duc­tive free­doms and he would respect Roe v. Wade.

UPDATE, 7:02 PM (Caitlin): When Eliz­a­beth War­ren was asked if she sup­ports a woman’s access to abor­tion, she respond­ed by saying:

“I would make cer­tain that every woman would have access to the full range of repro­duc­tive ser­vices, which includes [preg­nan­cy pre­ven­tion] and abor­tion. It’s not enough for us to expect the courts to pro­tect us.”

UPDATE, 7:03 PM (Andrew): Things haven’t gone well, tech­ni­cal­ly speak­ing, at the top of the sec­ond hour. There are audio prob­lems pre­vent­ing the mod­er­a­tors from inter­act­ing with the can­di­dates. Right now, some red-faced NBC exec­u­tives are grim­ly wring­ing their hands and won­der­ing how things went so wrong.

Pret­ty embarrassing.

UPDATE, 7:03 PM (Caitlin): Ear­li­er, in the dis­cus­sion on health­care, Book­er  turned the con­ver­sa­tion to opi­oid addic­tion and the high rate of arrests instead of treat­ment of those suf­fer­ing. He argued we need to hold the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies behind the epi­dem­ic responsible.

UPDATE, 7:05 PM (Andrew): NBC’s audio prob­lems, in a way, are a metaphor for what’s cur­rent­ly hap­pen­ing in our country.

UPDATE, 7:05 PM (Caitlin): O’Rourke fol­lowed up on Booker’s com­ments, argu­ing that many of those in prison are there for non­vi­o­lent drug crimes, espe­cial­ly on mar­i­jua­na charges. He implied that since mar­i­jua­na is legal in many parts of the coun­try now, no one should be impris­oned for non­vi­o­lent crimes asso­ci­at­ed with that sub­stance. He also agreed that phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies need to be held account­able for their actions that increased the opi­oid epidemic.

UPDATE, 7:07 PM (Andrew): NBC got its audio prob­lems fig­ured out and the mod­er­a­tors final­ly got to ask about gun vio­lence. “Gun vio­lence is a nation­al health emer­gency in this coun­try.” Good line from Eliz­a­beth Warren.

UPDATE, 7:10 PM (Andrew): This is Cory Booker’s best moment so far in the debate. A strong answer on address­ing gun vio­lence. (Book­er has pro­posed buy­ing back guns as part of his plan to tack­le this pub­lic health scourge.)

UPDATE, 7:10 PM (Caitlin): Before the break and NBC’s embar­rass­ing audio sna­fu, the debate turned to immigration.

Cas­tro stat­ed that he was the first can­di­date to put for­ward a com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion plan. He said the recent image of the drowned father and daugh­ter was heart­break­ing, but that it should also “piss us all off” and that it should spur us to action. He stat­ed he would sign an exec­u­tive order that would get rid of Trump’s worst immi­gra­tion poli­cies imme­di­ate­ly after tak­ing office.

UPDATE, 7:11 PM (Andrew): Cas­tro did a good job salut­ing the work of Moms Demand Action and the Park­land teens who orga­nized the March For Our Lives.

UPDATE, 7:14 PM (Andrew): Will Gov­er­nor Inslee get a chance to talk about the three gun respon­si­bil­i­ty ini­tia­tives Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers have sup­port­ed, and the bills the Leg­is­la­ture has passed to pro­tect our communities?

UPDATE, 7:14 PM (Caitlin): Dur­ing the exchange on immi­gra­tion, Book­er alter­nat­ed between speak­ing in Eng­lish and Span­ish, say­ing that he would imme­di­ate­ly abol­ish ICE and that migrants shouldn’t have to leave their rights at our bor­der. He argued we need to rein­vig­o­rate path­ways to cit­i­zen­ship, includ­ing DACA [Deferred Action For Child­hood Arrivals], as well as address where these issues come from by mak­ing invest­ments in the north­ern triangle.

UPDATE, 7:17 PM (Caitlin): De Bla­sio stressed that we need to remind Amer­i­cans hurt­ing eco­nom­i­cal­ly that immi­grants didn’t steal their jobs, cor­po­ra­tions and the one per­cent did that. He argued that Democ­rats are on the side of work­ing peo­ple and we need to cham­pi­on poli­cies to sup­port them.

“That’s what we need to do as Amer­i­cans,” he said.

UPDATE, 7:20 PM (Andrew): This has not been a good debate for for­mer Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Delaney. He’s des­per­ate to be heard, but he doesn’t have much of con­se­quence to say.

UPDATE, 7:22 PM (Caitlin): Pri­or to the break that pre­ced­ed the sec­ond hour, Beto O’Rourke was asked, in Span­ish, what he would do on day one in the White House to tack­le immi­gra­tion. O’Rourke said we would begin to fol­low our own asy­lum laws and not crim­i­nal­ly pros­e­cute those migrants and fam­i­lies – espe­cial­ly those flee­ing some of the worst vio­lence in the world.

He said he would imple­ment a fam­i­ly immi­gra­tion pro­gram that would effi­cient­ly move immi­grants through the immi­gra­tion process. “We then need to rewrite our immi­gra­tion laws in our country’s image,” he concluded.

UPDATE, 7:22 PM (Andrew): One hour and twen­ty-two min­utes in, we’re talk­ing about cli­mate dam­age. Final­ly. And Gov­er­nor Inslee appro­pri­ate­ly gets the first ques­tion on cli­mate from MNSBC’s Rachel Maddow.

UPDATE, 7:25 PM (Caitlin): Book­er told the audi­ence that increas­ing arrests won’t solve our immi­gra­tion or drug prob­lems. He argued we need to use our resources so that we don’t sac­ri­fice our val­ues or ideals for bor­der security.

UPDATE, 7:27 PM (Caitlin): Inslee stat­ed that there is no rea­son for the deten­tion of chil­dren at the bor­der and they should be imme­di­ate­ly released pend­ing prompt hear­ings. He explained that in Wash­ing­ton state, a law was passed that pre­vent­ed local law enforce­ment from act­ing as ICE agents. He also men­tioned that he was the first gov­er­nor to fight Trump’s racist trav­el bans. “We wel­come refugees and val­ue diver­si­ty in our state,” he said.

UPDATE, 7:28 PM (Andrew): Chuck Todd is talk­ing way too much. There’s only two hours and ten can­di­dates in this debate, and he’s burn­ing up time ask­ing long wind­ed ques­tions. It’s unfor­tu­nate that he is a moderator.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM (Caitlin): The JCPOA with Iran was the top­ic that fol­lowed immi­gra­tion. As Andrew men­tioned, the mod­er­a­tors asked which can­di­dates sup­port­ed rejoin­ing the deal. Book­er was the only can­di­date to not raise his hand. He defend­ed his stance by say­ing that he does not believe we should have ever dropped out of the deal but that now we need to rene­go­ti­ate to imme­di­ate­ly and aggres­sive­ly deesca­late those tensions.

UPDATE, 7:32 PM (Caitlin): Gab­bard con­tend­ed that the regime’s pos­ture on Iran is very dan­ger­ous and Trump needs to start putting Amer­i­cans first by re-enter­ing the JCPOA and deesca­lat­ing tensions.

UPDATE, 7:34 PM (Andrew): In his last answer on gun vio­lence, Cas­tro men­tioned the names of sev­er­al peo­ple who have been vic­tims of police bru­tal­i­ty, like Eric Gar­ner and San­dra Bland. Nice­ly done, Mr. Secretary.

UPDATE, 7:36 PM (Caitlin): War­ren tried to make the most of her oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk about gun safe­ty and refused to be bait­ed into embrac­ing con­fis­ca­tion. “The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment needs to treat it like a seri­ous research prob­lem,” she said. She said mak­ing sweep­ing restric­tions won’t guar­an­tee a solu­tion and that we need data dri­ven action, whether it’s polit­i­cal­ly pop­u­lar or not.

UPDATE, 7:36 PM (Caitlin): “I hope I’m the only one on stage who has had sev­en peo­ple shot in their neigh­bor­hood,” Cory Book­er said in a somber voice. “This is not just a pol­i­cy issue, it’s per­son­al. I’m tired of thoughts and prayers.”

UPDATE, 7:44 PM (Caitlin): Cas­tro agreed that we don’t need to accept this as nor­mal. He expressed his belief that in 2020, we will have a Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty in each cham­ber of Con­gress. He praised the Park­land stu­dents and oth­er gun safe­ty activists by say­ing that we may have not seen fed­er­al leg­isla­tive action yet, but there will be an oppor­tu­ni­ty for progress in 2021.

UPDATE, 7:45 PM (Andrew): Bare­ly any time was devot­ed to address­ing cli­mate dam­age tonight, which just rein­forces why we need a cli­mate debate. With good mod­er­a­tors. (That means not you, Chuck Todd.)

UPDATE, 7:45 PM (Caitlin): Tim Ryan sought to broad­en the con­ver­sa­tion, say­ing that we need men­tal health coun­selors in every school in Amer­i­ca so those who feel shame or trau­ma are sup­port­ed and don’t resort to gun violence.

UPDATE, 7:47 PM (Caitlin): O’Rourke was then asked about the com­mon refrain that Democ­rats are going to take Amer­i­cans’ guns away. He argued that uni­ver­sal back­ground checks save lives and that we need to end the sales of assault weapons and weapons of war. We also need to sup­port red flag laws.

He said when talk­ing to Amer­i­cans all over the coun­try, what every­one agreed on, whether they were Democ­rats, Repub­li­cans, own­ers and non gun own­ers, was that we need stronger and bet­ter gun safe­ty laws.

UPDATE, 7:48 PM (Caitlin): Klobuchar argued that we need to lis­ten to the young peo­ple. She drew a par­al­lel to mar­riage equal­i­ty, say­ing that it was the young peo­ple ask­ing why the free­dom to mar­ry didn’t exist. She argued it’s the same with gun safe­ty and that with­out it, we have failed our young people.

UPDATE, 7:52 PM (Caitlin): Book­er was then asked about the Supreme Court, but before address­ing that, he stat­ed that if you need a license to dri­ve a car, you ought to need it for a gun. He argued that bold agen­das for gun reforms are need­ed. Regard­ing the Supreme Court, he agreed with Cas­tro that who­ev­er the even­tu­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee is, they should cam­paign in places like South Car­oli­na and Iowa to elect Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­ate can­di­dates so that Mitch McConnell can­not obstruct the people’s will fol­low­ing the 2021 election .

UPDATE, 7:56 PM (Caitlin): The mod­er­a­tors asked sev­er­al of the can­di­dates how they would deal with Mitch McConnell, the crafty Sen­ate Repub­li­can chief­tain. When War­ren was asked if she had a plan, of course, she said yes. “We are a democ­ra­cy, and the way it’s sup­posed to work is the will of the peo­ple mat­ters,” she said. She said McConnell helped make the coun­try work much bet­ter for those who lob­by and give big cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions, and its not for the peo­ple. War­ren wants to see us get a Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty in the Sen­ate, but even with­out that, the fight still goes on and it starts in the White House.

UPDATE, 8:00 PM (Caitlin): Delaney spoke about bipar­ti­san­ship and tack­led the ques­tion regard­ing how to deal with Mitch McConnell who doesn’t oper­ate that way. He stat­ed that we need to get things done. “I’ll sign into law bills that are passed on a par­ty line basis,” he said. “But huge majori­ties of the Amer­i­can peo­ple cause change. We need real solu­tions, not impos­si­ble promises.”

UPDATE, 8:04 PM (Caitlin): Before launch­ing into his pitch for cli­mate jus­tice, Jay Inslee reit­er­at­ed his call for the abo­li­tion of the fil­i­buster, which McConnell used to obstruct bills dur­ing Barack Obama’s presidency.

Then he talked about the theme of his cam­paign, incor­po­rat­ing a line that Wash­ing­to­ni­ans are famil­iar with: “We are the first gen­er­a­tion to feel the sting of cli­mate change, and we are the last who can do some­thing about it.”

He said we need to treat it like a cri­sis and that this next admin­is­tra­tion is like­ly the last one who can do any­thing sig­nif­i­cant to tack­le it. He spoke about his suc­cess cham­pi­oning envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in Wash­ing­ton and fin­ished by say­ing he is the only can­di­date pledg­ing to make tack­ling the cli­mate cri­sis his top pri­or­i­ty and put eight mil­lion peo­ple to work.

UPDATE, 8:07 PM (Caitlin): Gab­bard was asked to address her pre­vi­ous anti-LGBTQ stances. She stat­ed that there is no one in our gov­ern­ment at any lev­el who has any right to tell any Amer­i­can who they can love or mar­ry. “My record shows my com­mit­ment to fight­ing for equal­i­ty through my work in the equal­i­ty cau­cus,” she said. She said many Amer­i­cans can prob­a­bly relate that she grew up in a social­ly con­ser­v­a­tive home and has changed her opinions.

“I’ve served with LGBTQ ser­vice mem­bers in train­ing and down range. I would give my life for them and I know they would give their life for me. It’s this com­mit­ment that I’ll car­ry through as President.”

UPDATE, 8:08 PM (Caitlin): Klobuchar was asked why minor­i­ty vot­ers should vote for her. She said in short, in her first one hun­dred days as pres­i­dent, she will tack­le vot­ing reform and make sure every­one can vote. She said she would then move on to crim­i­nal jus­tice reform.

UPDATE, 8:12 PM (Caitlin): The Tal­iban recent­ly took cred­it for killing two ser­vice mem­bers in Afghanistan. The mod­er­a­tors asked why, even after mul­ti­ple pres­i­den­cies, this con­flict has not ended?

Ryan stat­ed that of his sev­en­teen years in Con­gress, twelve of those years have been spent on dif­fer­ent armed ser­vices com­mit­tees. He argued that gov­ern­ment needs to stay engaged because these con­flicts are long and tedious. He then point­ed out that Trump doesn’t even have peo­ple appoint­ed to deal with these things, whether we’re talk­ing about con­flicts in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca, Iran or Afghanistan. “We had a drone shot down because Trump is dis­tract­ed,” he argued. “Those dol­lars could go to [places] like Flint, Michigan.”

UPDATE, 8:13 PM (Caitlin): Gab­bard coun­tered by say­ing that answer was unac­cept­able. “We have to bring our troops home,” she said. “We are no bet­ter off in Afghanistan today than we were when it began. We need a com­man­der in chief who knows the cost of war.”

UPDATE, 8:15 PM (Caitlin): The mod­er­a­tors then asked what the biggest geopo­lit­i­cal threat to the Unit­ed States is from each candidate.

Delaney said the biggest geopo­lit­i­cal chal­lenge is Chi­na and nuclear pro­lif­er­a­tion. Inslee said it’s Don­ald Trump, draw­ing huge applause. Gab­bard said that we are too close to nuclear war. Klobuchar cit­ed Chi­na and Iran. O’Rourke said it’s the cli­mate cri­sis. War­ren said it’s cor­rup­tion. Ryan said it’s Chi­na. De Bla­sio said it’s Russia’s attempts to inter­fere in our elec­tions and sub­vert our democracy.

UPDATE, 8:17 PM (Caitlin): The debate top­ic switched the the Mueller report and if can­di­dates would pros­e­cute Trump after he leaves office.

O’Rourke said yes. “If we allow him to get away with this with­out impuni­ty, we set a prece­dent that those in pow­er are above the law. We must start impeach­ment pro­ceed­ings and fol­low the facts where they go. If we can’t do that now, under my admin­is­tra­tion, we will ensure account­abil­i­ty and save this country.”

UPDATE, 8:20 PM (Caitlin): Clos­ing state­ments were then heard, with each can­di­date get­ting just forty-five sec­onds. Delaney said that he is on a mis­sion to find the Amer­i­ca that has been lost. We saved the world and cre­at­ed the Amer­i­can dream. De Bla­sio said that putting work­ing peo­ple first matters.

Inslee said he is run­ning for pres­i­dent to address cli­mate dam­age because he wants to be able to look his grand­chil­dren in the eyes and tell them he did every­thing human­ly pos­si­ble to pro­tect their futures. “We can save our chil­dren and our grand­chil­dren. This is our moment,” he said.

UPDATE, 8:23 PM (Caitlin): Ryan stat­ed that there is noth­ing worse than not being heard or seen (a com­ment that drew scorn on social media). He said he has rep­re­sent­ed a for­got­ten com­mu­ni­ty and he is ready to play offense.

Gab­bard said that she val­ues ser­vice above self.

Cas­tro said he will work hard every sin­gle day to con­tin­ue the progress Amer­i­ca has made and (after speak­ing in Span­ish) said we will say adios to Trump.

Klobuchar said she lis­tens to peo­ple and that’s how she gets things done. She also added that she has won in the red­dest of districts.

Book­er said he’s call­ing this coun­try to a com­mon pur­pose again. It’s a ref­er­en­dum on us, who we are and who we must be to each other.

UPDATE, 8:24 PM (Caitlin): O’Rourke said that we need a new kind of pol­i­tics, direct­ed by the urgency of the next gen­er­a­tion. We need to bring every­one togeth­er and not leave any­one behind. War­ren fin­ished the night be say­ing we can make our econ­o­my and our coun­try work for every­one. She promised she will fight for Amer­i­cans as hard as she fights for her own family.

And that’s it for the first night of Demo­c­ra­t­ic debates!

Tune in tomor­row night to hear from the oth­er ten candidates.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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