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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

We’re watching the second night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate. Join us!

Good evening, and welcome to NPI’s live coverage of the second 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 Detroit, Michigan.

CNN is the media partner for this DNC-sanctioned debate.

The format is as follows:

Candidates will be given sixty seconds to respond to a moderator-directed question, and thirty seconds for responses and rebuttals.
Colored lights will be used to help the candidates manage their remaining response times: 15 seconds = yellow; 5 seconds = flashing red; no time remaining = solid red.

A candidate attacked by name by another candidate will be given thirty seconds to respond. There will be no show of hands or one-word, down-the-line questions.

A candidate who consistently interrupts will have his or her time reduced. Questions posed by the moderators will appear on the bottom of the screen for television viewers.

Tonight’s lineup of ten candidates is as follows:

  • Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • New Jersey U.S. Senator Cory Booker
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Hawaii U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard
  • New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
  • California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee
  • Businessman Andrew Yang

Our live coverage begins below.

UPDATE, 5:00 PM (Ruairi): The second night of the second round of Democratic debates is about to begin, and NPI’s team is here to cover the event!

UPDATE, 5:03 PM (Ruairi): Straightaway, CNN is hyping the “rematch” of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden’s clash over race issues.

UPDATE, 5:07 PM (Ruairi): First candidate on the historic Fox Theatre stage is Vice President Joe Biden, followed by Senator Kamala Harris. Then come Sen. Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, and Juliàn Castro.

Following these candidates are Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

UPDATE, 5:09 PM (Ruairi): The national anthem is performed by Dee Dee Bridgewater, a Grammy Award-winning artist from Flint, MI.

UPDATE, 5:14 PM (Ruairi): Before the candidates begin their opening statements, the CNN moderators lay out the ground rules for the candidates.

UPDATE, 5:16 PM (Ruairi): Bill de Blasio offers “a message of hope.” He argues that he brought “bold change” to New York City with progressive policies that “can be done.” He immediately attacks Biden and Harris’ more moderate approaches. De Blasio promises to “tax the hell out of the wealthy!”

UPDATE, 5:18 PM (Ruairi): Michael Bennet immediately draws attention to the sign “America: Love it, or leave it.” He says he loves America. Speaking very slowly, he talks about underprivileged kids in his home area who share his hopes. He directly attacked Trump – “kids belong in classrooms, not cages…we have a bully in the White House.” He promises to defeat Donald Trump.

UPDATE, 5:19 PM (Andrew): Washington’s own Jay Inslee was the third to speak tonight, which meant he got to talk about defeating the climate crisis almost right off the bat.

UPDATE, 5:19 PM (Ruairi): Washington’s Jay Inslee calls the Democratic presidential contenders “the last best hope” to save the planet’s climate. He wants a program of “national mobilization…a big, bold, ambitious plan…for a big, bold, ambitious nation.” He argues, “we can defeat the climate crisis, let’s get to work!”

UPDATE, 5:20 PM (Ruairi): Kirsten Gillibrand argues that “if you want to get something done, tell ME it’s impossible!” She described her record on women’s rights and the 9/11 health bill. She wants a nominee that “doesn’t know the meaning of impossible.”

UPDATE, 5:21 PM (Andrew): That was a skillful opening by Kirsten Gillibrand, emphasizing what can be accomplished even in difficult circumstances. Making the impossible possible is, indeed, the American way.

UPDATE, 5:21 PM (Ruairi): Tulsi Gabbard described her record in the military and the U.S. Congress. She promises to bring her patriotism to the White House. She promises to bring the founding principles of the USA back to the White House.

UPDATE, 5:22 PM (Andrew): Props to Julián Castro for invoking Puerto Rico in his opening statement.

UPDATE, 5:23 PM (Ruairi): Juliàn Castro talks about the inspirational protests in Puerto Rico. He promises to give opportunities to voters, their children and their grandchildren. He says that the USA is great, but “too many people are struggling.” Instead of “making America great again,” he wants to, “make it better than anything it’s ever been.”

UPDATE, 5:24 PM (Ruairi): Andrew Yang immediately brings up his flagship plan, Universal Basic Income. He argues that , “the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math!” He argues that his plan can deal with the loss of automation jobs in cities like Detroit.

UPDATE, 5:24 PM (Andrew): Andrew Yang appears much more prepared for this debate than the first one. He’s taking advantage of the format chosen by CNN, which is more favorable to lesser known candidates like him.

UPDATE, 5:25 PM (Andrew): Cory Booker paused his opening statement due to chanting from a faction of people in the audience.

He has now resumed speaking.

UPDATE, 5:26 PM (Ruairi): Cory Booker is interrupted by protesters in the theatre, midway through his message of anti-racist rhetoric. He argues that Trump is using “tired old language” to “divide this country against itself.”

He wants to ask Americans, “who are we as a people?” He wants to heal the nation’s deep wounds and move forward to America’s “common destiny…common cause and common destiny.”

UPDATE, 5:27 PM (Ruairi): Kamala Harris calls this “an inflection moment in the history of our country.” She also asks who the USA as a country, answering, “we are better than this.” She recalls the historical fights for American ideals, including her civil rights-activist parents. She wants to “prosecute the case of four more years of President Trump, against him.”

UPDATE, 5:27 PM (Andrew): “I’m running for President to restore the soul of this country,” Joe Biden says.

UPDATE, 5:28 PM (Andrew): Smart choice by Biden to speak directly to Trump in his opening statement.

UPDATE, 5:28 PM (Ruairi): Joe Biden wants to “restore the soul of this country.” He argues that no one man can destroy the country on his own, that America is too strong. He looks at the diverse candidates surrounding him, saying directly to Trump, “this is our country…we’re not going to leave it to you!”

UPDATE, 5:29 PM (Ruairi): The first question addresses Harris’ healthcare plan, asking her about the Biden campaign’s criticism that it is a “have it every which way plan.”

UPDATE, 5:29 PM (Andrew): CNN’s Dana Bash wasted no time trying to manufacture conflict between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden.

UPDATE, 5:30 PM (Ruairi): Harris talks about deductibles, co-pays and premiums that voters complain to her about. She designed a plan that would offer a public plan and a private plan for the people. She agrees with progressives that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

UPDATE, 5:31 PM (Andrew): Given the chance to bash Harris’ plan, Biden took it. “You can’t beat Donald Trump with doubletalk,” Biden declared. Harris responding now.

UPDATE, 5:31 PM (Ruairi): Biden points to the length of time Harris’ plan takes to implement and the great cost of the plan. He says “you can’t beat Trump with double-talk on this plan.”

UPDATE, 5:33 PM (Ruairi): Harris promises to ensure that every American is covered, saying that Biden’s plan would leave almost ten million out. He simply says that Harris’ plan would cost three trillion dollars. Harris says, “the cost of doing nothing is far too expensive…we are NOW paying three trillion dollars a year.” She simply makes the moral argument that all Americans should have access.

UPDATE, 5:34 PM (Ruairi): Bill de Blasio argues that even Americans with insurance are often dissatisfied with their private insurance plans. He points out that many plans don’t cover mental health or dental care. Biden responded that the U.S. needs to “build on Obamacare.”

UPDATE, 5:34 PM (Andrew): Every time Joe Biden says “Obamacare”, he’s invoking a right wing frame. Bad move, Mr. Vice President. Why not call the law by its correct name — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

UPDATE, 5:36 PM (Ruairi): Biden promises to insure “the vast majority” but notably, not all. Gillibrand is then asked about her own support for Medicare for All, compared to Kamala Harris’ own plan which includes private insurance options. Gillibrand told the story of her own child’s allergic reaction, following with the point that insurance companies are for profit and skimming off the cost of healthcare.

UPDATE, 5:37 PM (Ruairi): Harris points out that the architect of Obamacare has endorsed her own plan, and says that Biden’s plan will ensure “business as usual” for insurance companies abusing their customers. Biden replies that “no one has to keep their own insurance…they can but into the Biden plan.”

UPDATE, 5:38 PM (Andrew): It’s really, really disappointing that Joe Biden is using his time on this debate stage to criticize Medicare For All.

UPDATE, 5:38 PM (Ruairi): Cory Booker is asked about public-private contradictions in his own plan. He responds that Donald Trump and the Republicans are enjoying the debate while they try to destroy healthcare. He wants to “keep his eyes on the prize.” He points out that the USA spends more than any other country on healthcare.

UPDATE, 5:39 PM (Ruairi): Booker is worried about demoralizing the Party in the face of “the real enemy.”

UPDATE, 5:40 PM (Ruairi): Tulsi Gabbard argues that Harris’ plan would profit health insurance countries. Gabbard wants to “shut out” private countries from the system. Instead of going after Gabbard, Harris’ response immediately turns to striking at Biden for his plan’s lack of universal coverage.

UPDATE, 5:41 PM (Ruairi): Biden argues that his plan can help by controlling drug prices. He wants reform that forces pharmaceutical companies to set the price in cooperation with the government.

UPDATE, 5:42 PM (Andrew): Governor Inslee hasn’t yet gotten to say anything apart from his opening statement. Why haven’t the CNN moderators asked him about healthcare? He has real world experience to share.

UPDATE, 5:42 PM (Ruairi): Sen. Bennet believes that Medicare for All will get Donald Trump re-elected. Like Biden, he wants to build on Obamacare. He argues that progressive plans would raise taxes on the middle class by trillion and abolish private insurance.

UPDATE, 5:43 PM (Ruairi): Juliàn Castro recalled his grandmother who had diabetes, and was cared for under Medicare. He doesn’t believe that profit motives for companies should determine people’s healthcare. Harris, striking back at Bennet, points out that too many Americans stick to employers they do not like because of their insurance.

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