January Democratic debate live updates: Six candidates face off in Des Moines
Tuesday's debate was the smallest one yet.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, former mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar will take the stage in a Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday night in Iowa.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News
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NBC News provided up-to-the-minute coverage of the seventh Democratic presidential primary debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Tuesday's debate stage was the smallest one yet, with many of the candidates who appeared on stage in previous debates either failing to qualify or dropping out of the race.
Hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register, the debate featured six candidates: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, billionaire Tom Steyer, and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana.
Bernie Sanders tied old wars to the current debate over war powers with a message aimed at the conscience and collective memory of the Democratic Party’s left wing.
He fears, he said, that President Donald Trump is the latest in a line of commanders in chief — following Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush — who will abuse his bully pulpit to deceive the American public about bloody and costly wars.
“What we have to face as a nation is that the two great foreign policy disasters of our lifetimes were the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq,” he said. “Both of those wars were based on lies. And right now, what I fear very much is we have a president who is lying again and could drag us into a war that is even worse than the war in Iraq.”
It was a message Sanders was intent on delivering: He delayed answering a different question from moderator Wolf Blitzer to pause, zoom out and explain how he thinks Vietnam and Iraq are connected to the current clash over war powers.
This is a two-hour debate, and we’re a quarter through it. And, so far, it’s a different kind of debate.
Questions from the moderators have centered on foreign policy: troops in the Middle East, Iran’s nuclear efforts and how to handle North Korea.
Foreign policy had not dominated any of the previous Democratic debates so far, but it's not hard to see why it came to the forefront: the recent events in Iran and Iraq.
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14d ago / 2:30 AM UTC
Flashback: Barbara Lee's Iraq war vote gets high praise at last debate
At the December debate, in response to a question about what to do about continued U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Sanders said he was wrong to support the initial military action — and acknowledged the stand taken by Barbara Lee.
Lee, a Democratic representative from California, has been an ardent anti-war advocate and was the only member of Congress to vote against military action after 9/11.
For those too young to remember, it's hard to comprehend how wild it is today that Barbara Lee's lone "no" vote on the Afghanistan war is basically assumed correct for debate purposes, arguably in both parties
On Middle East presence, Warren calls for removal of ‘combat troops’
In response to a question about whether to pull U.S. troops out of the Middle East, Warren stands out for calling for the removal of combat troops.
Biden and Klobuchar hold that the U.S. needs to maintain a presence. Sanders and Buttigieg don’t offer definitive answers.
Overall, the candidates didn't demonstrate significant differences between on military policy in the Mideast, with the exception of whether to leave some troops in the area. And even if you pull troops out, it’s relatively easy today to send them back fairly quickly.
Klobuchar and Buttigieg engaged in some heated exchanges in the previous debate regarding experience. Blitzer wastes no time in bringing that up, but Klobuchar dodges it.
"I’ve been very clear that I respect the mayor’s experience very much in the military," she said. " I just have a different experience. I’ve been in the U.S. Senate for over 12 years."
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14d ago / 2:08 AM UTC
Smaller group, smaller venue
Previous debates were in large halls and had more candidates. This time, with six candidates in a smaller venue at Drake University, there’s already a cozier feeling to the scene.
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13d ago / 7:02 AM UTC
Debate No. 7 begins with question on the candidates' qualifications to be commander in chief
The seventh Democratic debate kicks off with a foreign policy question: Why the candidates think they're best prepared to be commander in chief. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was given the opportunity to respond first.
Sanders said he's fit to be commander in chief because he voted against the war in Iraq when he was a representative in the House. He said he would lead through diplomacy rather than war.
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14d ago / 2:12 AM UTC
Candidates take the stage!
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14d ago / 2:06 AM UTC
Trump: 'I don't believe that Bernie said that'
MILWAUKEE — At a campaign rally here Tuesday night just ahead of the Democratic debate, President Donald Trump referred to the latest rift between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
“I don't believe that Bernie said that, I really don't,” Trump said of reports that Sanders told Warren in a private conversation that a woman could not win the presidency.
“A woman can win for president,” Trump said, laughing at a member in the crowd who shouted “Melania!”