2019 Democratic Presidential Debates, Round 2
2019 Democratic Presidential Debates, Round 2

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 911 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.

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.

Adjacent posts