September Democratic Debate: Live updates from Houston

NBC News' live blog with the top coverage of the third democratic primary debate for the 2020 presidential election hosted by ABC in Texas on September 12, 2019.

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The 10 leading Democratic candidates faced off on the same stage for the first time in Houston Thursday night. Health care, education, trade, racial inequality, immigration and gun control were once again front and center. Read on for the biggest moments, fact-checks and analysis.

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What was going on between Biden and Castro on health care?

Things got a little confusing in the debate when former Housing Secretary Julián Castro accused former Vice President Joe Biden of forgetting what he had said earlier on health care — an exchange that drew attention for perhaps implying an attack on Biden’s age and memory.

The clash came after Castro criticized Biden’s health care plan for not automatically enrolling all uninsured Americans in a Medicare-like plan, as Castro says his plan would do.

“The difference between what I support and what you support, Vice President Biden, is that you require them to opt in and I would not require them to opt in, they would automatically be enrolled — they wouldn't have to buy in,” Castro said. “That's a big difference, because Barack Obama's vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered.”

When Biden protested that “they would not have to buy in,” Castro said he was contradicting an earlier claim that people would have to “buy in” to Medicare. Biden responded, “I said if they can’t afford it!”

Two issues are at play here: One is the narrow issue of what Biden said earlier; two is a disagreement between the two on health care policy. Read more about what was really going on in the dust-up.


Texas GOP lawmaker tells Beto O'Rourke: 'My AR is ready for you'

A Texas state representative had a menacing response to Beto O'Rourke's statement in Thursday's debate that "hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15."

"My AR is ready for you Robert Francis," Republican Representative Briscoe Cain tweeted about O'Rourke, using the presidential candidate's legal first and middle name.

Cain's tweet was heavily ratioed on Twitter, meaning it received more outraged comments than likes or retweets. Within three hours, 3,400 people had commented on the post, and 89 people retweeted it.

O'Rourke was one of those who was upset. "This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn't own an AR-15 — and neither should anyone else," he wrote.

When asked about mandatory buybacks for assault weapons during the debate, O'Rourke's response drew loud applause: "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," he said. "We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore. If it's a weapon that was designed to kill people on the battlefield, we're going to buy it back."


Fact check: Is America's child poverty rate one of the highest in the world?

At one point, Sanders claimed, "We have the highest child poverty rate of almost any country on Earth."

This is hyperbole — there are numerous less-developed nations with higher child poverty rates.

America's child poverty rate is above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average, but a slew of other countries have even higher child poverty rates, including Russia, Spain, India, Israel, Brazil and China.


Another thing that did not come up in the debate: cheeseburgers


Fact check: Buttigieg on teacher compensation

Buttigieg told a story about a Japanese exchange student in Indiana who returned to her home country and, after failing to pass a teacher’s exam, became a doctor — seeming to imply that teachers in Japan are compensated on par with those in the medical profession. 

“She took the exam to try to become a teacher in a society that really regards teachers and compensates teachers well. And she came up just short. So, you know what she did? Since she was academically good but couldn't quite make the cut to be a teacher, she had a fall-back plan; she became a doctor. That is how seriously some countries treat the teaching profession. If we want to get the results that we expect for our children, we have to support and compensate the teaching profession. Respect teachers the way we do soldiers and pay them more like the way we do doctors,” Buttigieg said.

According to data from the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), American teachers are actually paid better than Japanese teachers.

Primary school teachers in Japan with 15 years' experience make approximately $51,000 a year. American primary school teachers with the same level of experience make approximately $62,000 a year.

Luxembourg might have been a better example: Teachers at this level make $104,000 a year.