First Democratic debate 2019: Live updates from Night Two

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Thanks for following our live coverage of the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate, headlined by Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg. This wraps up our two nights of live digital coverage of the 20 candidates who participated in the debate in Miami, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo.

Check out our in-depth coverage:

And download the NBC News app for full coverage of both nights of the first Democratic debate.

Live Blog

Harris wins progressive group's flash poll

Harris was the clear favorite of members of the progressive activist group Indivisible in the second round of the first Democratic presidential debate, according to a flash poll conducted by the group.

Indivisible, which sprang up after the 2016 election to push back on President Donald Trump, asked members via text message which candidate “impressed” them most. They received 4,500 responses within 20 minutes of the debate’s conclusion. Here are the results:

Kamala Harris - 65%

Pete Buttigieg - 15%

Joe Biden - 7%

Bernie Sanders - 7%

Kirsten Gillibrand - 2%

Michael Bennet -  1%

Eric Swalwell - 1%

Marianne Williamson -1%

Andrew Yang - 1%

John Hickenlooper - 0%

In the first round of the debate Wednesday night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the clear favorite of Indivisible members.

Hickenlooper: Migrant children torn from families, put up for adoption 'unbelievable'

Almost no aspect of the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration has generated more debate and public outrage than the detention of immigrant children after separating them from their families.

Hickenlooper raised the issue on the debate stage Thursday, along with a looming possibility. 

“The images we have seen this week just compound the emotional impact that the world is judging us by,” Hickenlooper said. “If you’d ever told me any time in my life that this country would sanction federal agents to take children from the arms of their parents, put them in cages, actually put them up for adoption — in Colorado, we call that kidnapping — I would have told you, I would have told you it was unbelievable.”

The Associated Press reported in October that since the border crisis began, a Missouri couple had already managed to permanently adopt an infant whose Guatemalan mother had been detained during an immigration raid. 

The possibility that some of the children might wind up permanently separated from their families has already begun to evoke comparisons to the federal government’s mid-20th century efforts to “re-educate” Native American children by sending thousands to boarding schools where many were abused. 

We are all Marianne Williamson — or at least Katy Perry is

Candidates try very hard to be relatable, but sometimes it’s enough to just be yourself. That’s what Williamson did on Thursday night — and it resonated. 

Of all the candidates, Williamson drew attention on social media in a way that felt a bit above the fray. Yes, plenty of it was jokes about her, but many felt as if they offered a bit of connection and even self deprecation.

Is she going to be the next president? Probably not. But in the social media age, finding common ground through shared — or at least appreciable — weirdness can be surprisingly effective. Just ask Katy Perry.

Google searches, before and after debate

Biden's remark on jailing execs echo his past

In 2008, after the global economy teetered on the edge of collapse, the idea that bankers and Wall Street executives should face jail time for the financial machinations that caused the Great Recession took on a certain widespread public appeal.

In the final stretch of the presidential campaign, both nominees — Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, both senators — called for increased regulation and oversight of the financial industry. After Obama won the election, by most accounts, just one top banker went to jail. 

On Thursday, Biden, the man who served as Obama’s vice president, made a familiar reference to potential jail time during a debate exchange about health care. 

“Look, we can deal with these insurance companies,” Biden said. “We can deal with the insurance companies by, No. 1, putting insurance executives in jail for their misleading advertising, what they're doing on opioids, what they're doing paying doctors to prescribe.”

It was an idea that in many ways echoed Biden’s longtime support for a jail-centered approach to addressing the sale and consumption of drugs.

Away from the debate stage, Biden has said this year that he supports a more treatment-focused approach to dealing with the nation’s opioid crisis. But his critics say Biden’s past work has made such a thing harder to accomplish. 

Bullock chimes in with his thoughts

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock did not make the cut for the first round of Democratic presidential debates but for the second night in a row, he was weighing in on Twitter:

52 total mentions of Trump tonight

The president was mentioned 17 more times on Night Two of the debate.

The candidates' closing statements

Swalwell: Time to let a new generation of leaders take over and fix Washington.

Williamson: Gotta have an outsider to beat Trump. And insider won’t do it.

Bennet: Build a new era of American democracy.

Hickenlooper: Check out my progressive record in Colorado —  I can get things done. And I didn’t need to be a socialist to do it.

Gillibrand: Women are pissed right now because of an attack on our rights. We’re running for office and winning. I’m going to be a fighter who will take on the big challenges.

Yang: Thanks everyone who got him on the stage. Says he will be the one who can solve the problems that got Trump elected in the first place.

Harris: She will prosecute the case against four more years of Trump. Election is about you. She has a “3 a.m. agenda.” Will lead with honesty and speak the truth, help Americans prosper.

Buttigieg: Politics aren’t theoretical to him. He’s running because the decisions of the next three to four years will dictate the next 30 to 40 years. When he’s as old as Trump he wants to know that the right decisions were made.

Sanders: Why hasn’t anything changed? Why aren’t things getting better? Nothing will change unless “we have the guts to take on Wall Street, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the military-industrial complex, etc. 

Biden: I want to restore the soul of our nation after Trump elevated racists and white supremacists, and embraced dictators. We have to restore the American middle class, unite the country.

Biden campaign sends out video highlighting civil rights work

Lightning round: What foreign relationship would you reset as president?

Fact check: Sanders' record on gun control

Sanders claimed Thursday that he's been a reliable supporter of gun control, and said that in 1988, "when it wasn’t popular, I ran on a platform of banning assault weapons and in fact lost that race for Congress."

Not only is there little evidence that this claim is true (Sanders did lose his 1988 congressional race, but multiple outlets have said the reason isn't so clear cut), but Sanders also omits that in the 31 years since that race, he has had a voting record that many gun control advocates consider checkered.

Between 1991 and 1993, he voted at least three times against different iterations of the “Brady Bill” that required waiting periods for people buying guns. He also opposed a 1996 measure that would have funded Centers for Disease Control to conduct research on gun violence. In 2005, he voted in favor of a law — the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — that essentially protected gun makers from lawsuits from the families of victims of gun violence. After being roundly criticized for that position during the 2016 Democratic primary, Sanders co-sponsored legislation in 2017 to repeal that law.

In recent years, he has taken a stronger stance geared toward gun control, speaking (including during his campaign launch speech) about the need to expand background checks and ban assault weapons.