NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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.

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

We’re watching the sixth 2020 Democratic presidential debate. Join us!

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

NPI staff are watch­ing and shar­ing impres­sions of the debate as it pro­gress­es.

PBS and Politi­co are the media part­ners for this DNC-sanc­tioned debate, which is expect­ed to run two and a half hours. The media part­ners have put togeth­er a line­up of sev­er­al mod­er­a­tors drawn from their news­rooms, led by Judy Woodruff.

Tonight’s line­up of sev­en can­di­dates is as fol­lows:

  • Mass­a­chu­setts U.S. Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren
  • For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden
  • Ver­mont U.S. Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders
  • South Bend May­or Pete Buttigieg
  • Min­neso­ta U.S. Sen­a­tor Amy Klobouchar
  • Entre­pre­neur Andrew Yang
  • Bil­lion­aire Tom Stey­er

Our live cov­er­age begins below.

UPDATE, 5:02 PM: PBS and Politi­co are run­ning their intro­duc­to­ry mon­tage. This Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial debate is about to get under­way.

UPDATE, 5:03 PM: Judy Woodruff going over the debate rules and for­mat.

UPDATE, 5:04 PM: First ques­tion is about impeach­ment.

Joe Biden is asked to respond first.

UPDATE, 5:05 PM: Sanders is up now. Says Trump is “a patho­log­i­cal liar,” some­thing he’s said many times. (And he’s entire­ly cor­rect.)

UPDATE, 5:09 PM: War­ren says that it’s imper­a­tive to go after Trump on the issue of cor­rup­tion. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee must pros­e­cute the case against Trump, demon­strat­ing that he broke his promis­es, she argues.

UPDATE, 5:11 PM: Klobuchar empha­sized the need to pres­sure Sen­ate Repub­li­cans to agree to rules for a fair process that will result in Trump’s cronies appear­ing before the Sen­ate for ques­tion­ing.

UPDATE, 5:12 PM: Stey­er says he agrees with Klobuchar. “We need the admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials to tes­ti­fy on TV so we can judge,” he said.

UPDATE, 5:18 PM: The can­di­dates are being asked how they run in a strong econ­o­my. Biden points out the econ­o­my we have isn’t very inclu­sive. Many mid­dle income fam­i­lies are get­ting a raw deal.

UPDATE, 5:20 PM: Buttigieg says vot­ers in America’s heart­land are not mea­sur­ing the econ­o­my by how well the Dow Jones is doing. “The biggest prob­lem in our econ­o­my is sim­ple: Peo­ple are not get­ting paid enough,” he said.

UPDATE, 5:20 PM: Yang brings up stu­dent loan debt, drug over­dos­es, and sui­cides as con­se­quences of an inequitable econ­o­my.

UPDATE, 5:22 PM: War­ren says we have a gov­ern­ment that works great for the wealthy and the well-con­nect­ed, but not for the rest of us. “That is cor­rup­tion, pure and sim­ple, and we need to call it out for what it is,” she declares.

UPDATE, 5:23 PM: Sanders notes that many vet­er­ans are sleep­ing home­less in the streets while the wealthy amass ever more wealth.

UPDATE, 5:24 PM: “They’re just wrong,” War­ren declares after mod­er­a­tor Judy Woodruff asks her to respond to neolib­er­al econ­o­mist crit­ics who claim that increas­ing tax­es on the wealthy will sti­fle growth.

UPDATE, 5:25 PM: War­ren is real­ly on a roll here.

UPDATE, 5:26 PM: Stey­er says he agrees with many of Warren’s pro­pos­als, but claims he would be the best-suit­ed to go up against Trump because he’s wealthy.

UPDATE, 5:30 PM: Before the break, Buttigieg repeat­ed a lot of neoliberal/right wing frames that don’t belong on a Demo­c­ra­t­ic debate stage.

UPDATE, 5:32 PM: Back from the break. The mod­er­a­tors just offered an intrigu­ing ques­tion we haven’t heard before, which con­cerns the impact of cli­mate dam­age on cities like Mia­mi, Flori­da and Dav­en­port, Iowa, and whether peo­ple on the front lines of the cli­mate cri­sis should be relo­cat­ed.

UPDATE, 5:33 PM: Stey­er says address­ing cli­mate dam­age in com­mu­ni­ties across Amer­i­ca would be his “num­ber one pri­or­i­ty.”

UPDATE, 5:36 PM: Buttigieg says as some­one who lives along­side a riv­er that floods, he under­stands the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the cli­mate cri­sis.  He also empha­sized his sup­port for a tax on pol­lu­tion to mit­i­gate cli­mate dam­age.

UPDATE, 5:38 PM: When it was turn to answer the cli­mate relo­ca­tion ques­tion, Biden used his time to advo­cate for elec­tri­fy­ing our trans­porta­tion sys­tem.

UPDATE, 5:39 PM: That was a very strong answer from Bernie Sanders on respond­ing to the cli­mate cri­sis with the urgency and bold­ness that the cri­sis demands. Time is not on our side — the ram­i­fi­ca­tions are already here.

UPDATE, 5:41 PM: “The way we tack­le cor­rup­tion is by win­ning big in this elec­tion,” said Klobuchar (who was called upon after War­ren fin­ished speak­ing), going on to add that in the Mid­west, the biggest cli­mate impact is riv­er flood­ing.

UPDATE, 5:43 PM: Stey­er says wind, solar, and bat­ter­ies are the tech­nolo­gies we need to act on cli­mate, point­ing out that nuclear ener­gy is risky and expen­sive. (NPI agrees; we do not sup­port build­ing new nuclear plants.)

UPDATE, 5:46 PM: Biden did an impres­sive job that ques­tion con­cern­ing his rhetoric about try­ing to find com­mon ground with Repub­li­cans.

UPDATE, 5:50 PM: The can­di­dates are talk­ing about racial jus­tice. Amy Klobuchar just cit­ed the need to pro­tect the right to vote and applaud­ed Stacey Abrams’ work with Fair Fight Action to com­bat vot­er sup­pres­sion.

UPDATE, 5:51 PM: The debate has shift­ed to the top­ic of for­eign pol­i­cy. Bernie Sanders has made the case for the Unit­ed States to have a pro-Pales­tin­ian *and* pro-Israeli approach in terms of our pol­i­cy in the Mediter­ranean.

UPDATE, 5:53 PM: That was a real­ly strong, elo­quent answer from Buttigieg on Unit­ed States lead­er­ship in the world com­mu­ni­ty.

UPDATE, 5:58 PM: Judy Woodruff asked Buttigieg about U.S.-Chinese rela­tions. Buttigieg vowed to iso­late Chi­na from the free world if it moved in mil­i­tar­i­ly on Hong Kong pro­tes­tors, who have tak­en a stand for democ­ra­cy and free­dom.

UPDATE, 5:59 PM: Stey­er says we have to treat Chi­na as a “fren­e­my”.

UPDATE, 6:00 PM: Biden says we should be con­cen­trat­ing our naval pow­er in the Pacif­ic to counter China’s grow­ing influ­ence.

UPDATE, 6:02 PM: “They’re in the process of leapfrog­ging us on AI [arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence],” Yang says of Chi­na, declar­ing we need to out-com­pete them and win, in part by set­ting inter­na­tion­al stan­dards.

UPDATE, 6:06 PM: Buttigieg says Trump’s author­i­tar­i­an-style rhetoric is what both­ers him, not Trump’s intol­er­ance for crit­i­cism. Now head­ing to a break.

UPDATE, 6:14 PM: We’re back from the break. The can­di­dates are being asked about Pres­i­dent Obama’s recent com­ments about the ben­e­fit of women lead­ers in the world com­mu­ni­ty. Sanders was asked to respond first.

UPDATE, 6:15 PM: Sanders says the real issue is who has pow­er, and notes the Unit­ed States is slid­ing towards oli­garchy.

UPDATE, 6:17 PM: Pressed about 2024 plans, Biden refus­es to com­mit to run­ning for a sec­ond term, say­ing that he wants to win this cam­paign before he con­tem­plates a reelec­tion cam­paign in four years.

UPDATE, 6:19 PM: Prompt­ed to answer an ageist ques­tion, War­ren quipped that she’d be the youngest woman ever elect­ed pres­i­dent if she wins, draw­ing a lot of laughs, smiles, and applause in the debate hall.

UPDATE, 6:22 PM: War­ren seems to have been wait­ing for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take on Pete Buttigieg and she’s tak­ing full advan­tage of her chance right now.

UPDATE, 6:27 PM: Amy Klobuchar jumped in to break up the Buttigieg/Warren exchange, which had got­ten pret­ty testy. Buttigieg and War­ren had been spar­ring at length about their cam­paigns’ fundrais­ing.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM: Turn­ing now to immi­gra­tion…

UPDATE, 6:34 PM: Sanders says on day one, he would pro­tect DREAM­ers by rein­stat­ing DACA, which Trump has tried to extin­guish. He’d also end the immoral prac­tice of sep­a­rat­ing kids from their fam­i­lies at the bor­der.

UPDATE, 6:39 PM: In response to a mod­er­a­tor ques­tion, Buttigieg affirmed that he sup­ports finan­cial com­pen­sa­tion for chil­dren sep­a­rat­ed from their par­ents at the bor­der, along with a fast track to cit­i­zen­ship.

UPDATE, 6:42 PM: Klobuchar took an oppor­tu­ni­ty to take some swipes at Buttigieg, and draws lots of applause after defend­ing her­self and most of the oth­er can­di­dates on stage from one of his quips.

UPDATE, 6:44 PM: “I got­ta respond to that,” Buttigieg says in response, draw­ing out the exchange with Klobuchar.

UPDATE, 6:49 PM: Very inter­est­ing that Klobuchar end­ed up in a testy exchange of her own with Buttigieg after crit­i­ciz­ing War­ren and Buttigieg for spar­ring at length ear­li­er. It is a debate, of course, and Klobuchar’s ear­li­er attempt to project uni­ty looks even more oppor­tunis­tic now.

UPDATE, 6:50 PM: War­ren and Sanders elo­quent­ly unpacked the argu­ment that tuition-free col­lege should be avail­able for every­body, after Buttigieg tried to argue for the mer­its of a means-based approach.

UPDATE, 6:53 PM: Yang tout­ed his free­dom div­i­dend while answer­ing a ques­tion about secur­ing a future for peo­ple with spe­cial needs.

UPDATE, 6:54 PM: The ques­tions in this sixth Demo­c­ra­t­ic debate have been much bet­ter than ques­tions in pre­vi­ous Demo­c­ra­t­ic debates.

UPDATE, 6:58 PM: After the mod­er­a­tors steered to the debate to the top­ic of the courts, Buttigieg says he would expect his judi­cial nom­i­nees to demon­strate a grasp of vot­ing rights and civ­il rights in addi­tion to repro­duc­tive rights.

UPDATE, 7:00 PM: War­ren says as Pres­i­dent, she’ll go to the Rose Gar­den once a year to read the names of trans­gen­der peo­ple who have been killed.

UPDATE, 7:04 PM: The debate has veered back to for­eign pol­i­cy with a ques­tion about Afghanistan. Biden stressed that while in Pres­i­dent Obama’s admin­is­tra­tion, he opposed the esca­la­tion of America’s mil­i­tary pres­ence there.

UPDATE, 7:05 PM: Sanders took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to then crit­i­cize Biden for sup­port­ing the occu­pa­tion of Iraq, some­thing he has done in past debates. But this time, he was prompt­ly remind­ed that he vot­ed to autho­rize the use of force in Afghanistan. Sanders acknowl­edged that vote was a mis­take.

UPDATE, 7:06 PM: Buttigieg salut­ed the work of Bar­bara Lee to revoke the indef­i­nite, open-end­ed autho­riza­tion for the use of mil­i­tary force from 2001.

UPDATE, 7:08 PM: Chal­lenged by Tim Alber­ta, Sanders expressed con­fi­dence that a bold Medicare For All plan could pass Con­gress in 2021 with strong sup­port from the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

UPDATE, 7:09 PM: It is real­ly unfor­tu­nate that Joe Biden con­tin­ues to refer to the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act using a Repub­li­can pejo­ra­tive. Words mat­ter. Biden needs to change his vocab­u­lary and reframe.

UPDATE, 7:10 PM: “Put your hand down, Bernie,” Biden says as he attempts to con­clude his answer on health­care.

UPDATE, 7:14 PM: Peo­ple who vote for mas­sive defense bud­gets have no busi­ness com­plain­ing about the esti­mat­ed costs of pro­pos­als to pro­vide uni­ver­sal health­care to all Amer­i­cans.

UPDATE, 7:20 PM: Weird ques­tion to close out the debate: would you like to ask for­give­ness of your fel­low can­di­dates on the stage or give a gift?

UPDATE, 7:26 PM: Fol­low­ing Tom Steyer’s answer on the forgiveness/gift ques­tion, PBS and Politi­co opt­ed to head to a break.

When they return, we’ll hear clos­ing state­ments.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM: Clos­ing state­ments are under­way.

Stey­er says he’s dif­fer­ent from every­one on stage, but only hints at his wealth instead of explic­it­ly acknowl­edg­ing it. He men­tions he’s for con­gres­sion­al term lim­its, an idea NPI doesn’t sup­port.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM: It is Yang’s turn to deliv­er a clos­ing state­ment.

He draws laugh­ter by declar­ing: “I know what you’re think­ing, Amer­i­ca: How I am still up here on stage with them?”

UPDATE, 7:32 PM: In her clos­ing, Klobuchar declared that any­one who wants a big tent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty and long coat­tails would be best served by embrac­ing her cam­paign. She has repeat­ed­ly point­ed out dur­ing this debate that she has run and won statewide in a state far away from either of Amer­i­ca’s salt­wa­ter coasts.

UPDATE, 7:33 PM: Buttigieg used his clos­ing to talk about uni­fy­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty around its even­tu­al nom­i­nee and invit­ed peo­ple to cau­cus for him in the new year. (The first nom­i­nat­ing event will be in Iowa.)

UPDATE, 7:35 PM: Warren’s turn.

In her clos­ing, she talked about expand­ing Social Secu­ri­ty and aggres­sive­ly fight­ing cor­rup­tion, again men­tion­ing her three broth­ers.

UPDATE, 7:35 PM: “Real change takes place from the bot­tom up, not the top down,” Bernie Sanders declared in his clos­ing state­ment.

“Let’s defeat Trump, let’s trans­form this coun­try.”

UPDATE, 7:37 PM: Biden got the last word.

“Who has the best chance, the most like­ly chance of defeat­ing Don­ald Trump?” he asked. “Who can help elect Democ­rats to the Unit­ed States Sen­ate?” He con­clud­ed: “I’m the most qual­i­fied to answer those ques­tions.”

UPDATE, 7:37 PM: And with that, we are done!

PBS and Politi­co did a pret­ty good job with their ques­tions… a much bet­ter job than oth­er media out­lets have in past debates.

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