Democrats took the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami on Wednesday, kicking off the party's first debate of the 2020 election.
With more than 20 candidates vying for the nomination, two debates are being held this week to allow the top 20 candidates time to take their case to the American people. The ten candidates who appeared on the first debate were selected at random and included:
- Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
- Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
- Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D)
- Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro (D)
- Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D)
- Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)
- Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney (D)
- Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D)
The candidates sparred over issues like the economy, breaking up tech companies, and pay gap between men and women in the United States. Because the candidates share a lot of the same views on multiple policy positions, the candidates attempted to stand out in their own ways, whether that was answering a question in both English and Spanish like Beto O'Rourke, or citing their resumes and previous experience before they became politicians, like Gabbard or de Blasio.
It took nearly ten minutes before Trump was first mentioned by Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Many of the other candidates avoided talking about the president, instead focusing on the policies and direction they would prefer to take the country.
The debate remained mostly civil through the night as the candidates prioritized their own issues. Immigration loomed over the debate, sparking one particularly heated moment between candidate Beto O'Rourke and fellow Texan Julian Castro.
"We would not turn back (Valeria) and her father Oscar, we would accept them into this country and follow our own asylum laws," O'Rourke said, referring to a recent photo that saw a Salvadorian father and his daughter drowned while trying to enter the U.S. "We would accept them into this country and follow our own asylum laws. We would not build walls, we would not put kids in cages. In fact we would spare no expense to reunite—"
Castro interjected, taking issue with O'Rourke's past stance on border issues.
"The reason they are separating these little children from their families is they are using section 1325 of that act, which criminalizes coming across the border, to incarcerate the parents and separate them. Some of us on this stage have called to end that section, to terminate it. Some, like Congressman O'Rourke, have not," Castro said.
Technical difficulties prevented the second half of the debate from getting off to a solid start. The control room was having trouble figuring out an audio issue that apparently had the previous moderators of Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie talking over Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow. That forced NBC to break early in an attempt to clear up any problems.
When the network returned, the moderators tackled heavier issues including as gun control, the nomination of a Supreme Court nominee, and foreign policy.
Senator Cory Booker had one of the other big moments of the night with his comments on gun control:
"First of all, I want to say my colleague and I have been hearing this on the campaign trail, but worse is I hear gunshots in my neighborhood. I think I’m the only one, I hope I am, that had seven people shot in their neighborhood just last week. Someone I knew was killed with an assault rifle at the top of my block last year," Booker said.
"For millions of Americans, this is not a policy issue, this is an urgency. For those that have not been affected, they will learn about reading, writing, and arithmetic and how to deal with an active shooter in school, and all they have to offer is thoughts and prayers. Faith without works is dead. We will find a way. The reason we have a problem is we let the corporate gun lobby frame this debate. It is time we have bold actions and a bold agenda. I will get that done as president of the United States because this is not about policy. This is personal."
Trump on the other hand, had just one word to sum up the first Democratic debate of the 2020 primary: "BORING!"
Tomorrow, the second set of ten candidates are set to square off against one another. Tomorrow's group of Democrats will include:
- Vice President Joe Biden (D)
- Sens. Bernie Sanders - (I-VT
- Kamala Harris - (D-CA)
- Kirsten Gillibrand - (D-NY)
- Michael Bennet - (D-CO)
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D)
- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)
- California Rep. Eric Swalwell (D)
- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang (D)
- Self-help author Marianne Williamson (D)
Tomorrow's debate will also be hosted by NBC News and will air from 9 p.m. - 11 p.m. EST.
Photos: Getty Images