The first Democratic presidential debate is over – at least the first half of it. On June 26, 2019, half of the Democrats who are vying for their party’s nomination took the stage. They focused on the economy, climate change, immigration, and, of course, President Donald Trump. Who do you think won tonight’s Democratic debate? You can vote in Heavy’s poll at the end of this article.
There are so many Democrats trying to oust President Donald Trump from office that the first debate had to be held over the course of two days. The first debate, on Wednesday, featured the following candidates:
Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Bill de Blasio, and Tim Ryan.
On Thursday night, the following candidates are debating: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.
Wednesday’s candidates focused on the economy at the start of the debate. They spoke of people struggling with student loans and who need healthcare.
“Who is this economy really working for? It’s doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. It’s doing great for giant drug companies,” Elizabeth Warren said in opening moments of the debate. “It’s not doing great for people who are trying to get a prescription filled. It’s doing great for people who want to invest in private prisons, just not for the African-Americans and Latinx, whose families are torn apart, whose lives are destroyed, and whose communities are ruined.”
She continued: “It’s doing great for giant oil companies that want to drill everywhere, just not for the rest of us that are watching climate change bear down upon us. When you’ve got a government, when you’ve got an economy, that is doing great for those with money and isn’t doing great for everyone else, that is corruption pure and simple. We need to call it out. We need to attack it head on, and we need to make structural change in our government, in our economy, and in our country.”
The candidates all indicated they supported a woman’s right to have an abortion. Julian Castro said he supported “reproductive justice.” Climate change was also a commonality. The villains of this debate, to the candidates: Donald Trump, family separation at the border, and big drug companies. “It is time that we have a national urgency to deal with this problem,” Cory Booker said of opioids. The second half of Wednesday’s debate started out with gun control issues.
That conversation was briefly derailed by an audio problem that led to an unplanned commercial break. When they came back, Booker called for gun licensing. “We need to start having bold agendas on guns,” he said.
Beto O’Rourke spoke about prison reform. Castro spoke about the need for immigration reform. “When people come to this country, they don’t leave their human rights at the border,” said Booker, who, like Castro and O’Rourke, spoke Spanish during the debate. Gabbard said that Trump was lighting a spark that could lead to war with Iran.
Based on polling, it’s clear that Thursday night has more heavyweights in it. However, the debates give anyone on stage a theoretical chance to break through and grab the public’s attention. Furthermore, it’s interesting to see prominent candidates having to debate lesser-known figures (think Joe Biden vs. Andrew Yang, for example.) It keeps it interesting, that’s for sure.
A few candidates didn’t make the debate stage either day; according to Vox, they are: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam, and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel.
According to Vox, the second debate will also air from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern time. It will air on NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo. The site reports that the day the candidates were assigned was chosen randomly. However, according to Denver.com, candidates were chosen by the Democratic National Committee on the basis of whether they had 65,000 donors or “have at least 1 percent of the vote in a series of polls.”
There are so many candidates in the ring, of course, because Trump’s weakness in polling has made a lot of people think there’s a big opportunity to take back the White House. Furthermore, the crowded Democratic field does bring to mind the crowded Republican primary in 2016 when a dark horse candidate named Donald Trump broke through.
CNN reported that candidates haven’t had as many appearances lately because they’d been so busy preparing for the debate. The challenge for voters (and moderators) is getting enough time to listen to the positions of any one candidate due to the enormous size of the field.
“At the end of the day, you got 10 people each night in a two-hour block. Until the race sort of narrows down, you’re not really going to have, I think, a lot of substantive back-and-forth between the candidates. Just because there’s not enough time to do it,” said Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders, in an interview with CNN.
Here’s Heavy’s poll, so you can pick the candidate you thought won the debate in day 1: