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That's a wrap for the second Democratic debate. Joe Biden came under fire (a lot), and health care was once again a focal point. See how the evening unfolded below and click here for all your fact-checks.
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Castro invokes ‘Moscow Mitch’ nickname
Mitch McConnell has been sharply criticized in recent days after the Senate blocked election security bills in the wake of Mueller’s testimony. The move earned McConnell the nickname ‘Moscow Mitch,’ suggesting he is giving cover to Vladimir Putin.
In talking about the Mueller investigation into Russian election meddling, Castro invoked the nickname. The Senate Majority Leader, who has expressed anger about the nickname (and its corresponding Twitter hashtag), surely won’t be pleased.
Impeachment comes up near the end of the debate
After not being discussed Tuesday, candidates were asked for their opinions on what to do about Trump in light of the Mueller report. Booker, Castro and de Blasio all expressed support for impeachment.
Bennet expressed concern over McConnell acquitting Trump on impeachment and then the president claiming exoneration. Castro shot back, saying the president would claim if he wasn’t impeached that nothing was wrong in the first place.
Democrats don't support Hyde Amendment but overall public does
Biden briefly came under fire for his past support of the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing government policy which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for most abortions.
A Politico-Harvard poll in October 2016 found that a slight majority of Democrats — 55 percent — said that the policy should be overturned, while 37 percent said it should stay in place.
But the same poll found that a majority of the electorate at large — 58 percent — supports keeping the ban on federal funding for abortions in place.
Biden reversed his support for the Hyde Amendment in June after facing intense pressure from within his own party.
Booker, more than most candidates on stage, keeps focus on Trump
In his answers to questions about health care and foreign policy, Booker largely shied away from intra-party debates and ideological mission statements. Instead, he used his air time to attack President Trump.
In responding to a question about Afghanistan, for example, Booker began by enthusiastically declaring: “I will never conduct foreign policy by tweet.” He later blasted Trump as an “authoritarian” and called for impeachment proceedings against him.
Fact check: Trump tweets inaccurate claim about Obama's immigration policy
While it’s true the Obama administration built some of the migrant detention facilities — including one in 2014 — that have housed children during both administrations, Trump is misstating his predecessor's immigration policy.
The Obama administration did not have a policy of widespread family separation, though families were detained together.
What’s more, Trump ended his administration's family separation policy amid widespread outrage and challenges in the courts — not because he thought it would be a deterrent to migrants — and his administration has continued to separate hundreds of children from their families at the southern border since announcing the end of the policy.
Gabbard gets chance to tout signature issue: Stop wars
Gabbard, the only veteran on tonight’s debate stage and an avowed pacifist, said the federal government should stop “arbitrating foreign policy from ivory towers in Washington” before pushing what it perhaps her defining message: No more wars.
She has drawn intense criticism and scrutiny for her record on foreign affairs, particularly for meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
Biden backs away from key trade deal
Biden distanced himself from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that he backed— and helped sell to Democrats— when he served under Obama — a concession to labor and environmental groups.
Asked whether he’d rejoin the multilateral pact, which Trump backed out of in 2017, Biden said, “I’d renegotiate it.”
He further said he would do so with an eye toward labor and environmental concerns.
For a candidate who has tightly tied himself to the president he served on the campaign trail, the move amounted to a significant repositioning to the left.
The issue has been among the most important to labor groups. 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton previously abandoned her onetime support for it during that year’s campaign for the party’s nomination.
“Would I insist that labor be engaged?” Biden said. “The answer is yes.”
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio applauded the change.
“I consider that a victory,” the liberal mayor said.
Yang gets a moment to make his big pitch on redefining economic progress
Andrew Yang turned a question about how he was better than Biden to beat Trump into an opportunity to lay out his vision of overhauling the idea of economic progress.
Touting his coalition of “disaffected Trump voters, Libertarians and conservatives, as well as Democrats and progressives,” Yang said the key to winning Rust Belt states is to point out that in a record-breaking economy, “suicides, depression, anxiety — it’s gotten so bad that Amercan life expectancy has declined for the past three years.”
He raised the case of his wife, who provides at home care for his autistic son. “What does her work count at in today’s economy?” Yang asked? “Zero, and we know that’s the opposite of the truth. We know that her work is among the most challenging and vital.”
Yang said in order to win, “We redefine economic progress to include all the things that matter to the people in Michigan and all of us, like our own health, our well being, our mental health, our clean air and clean water, how our kids are doing — if we change the measurements of the 21st century economy to revolve around our own well-being, then we will win this election.”
Gillibrand and Biden spar over gender pay gap
Gillibrand sparred with Biden over an op-ed he wrote decades ago in which he said — and Gillibrand read aloud — women working outside the home would "create the deterioration of family."
Biden shot back, "I'm passionate about the concern making sure women are treated equally.” He also slammed Gillibrand supporting his positions on women in the past, saying, “I don't know what happened except you're running for president."
What's the Green New Deal, and where do candidates stand on it?
Candidates briefly tussled over components of the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to combat climate change proposed by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
Here's what's in the plan (and a few things that are not) and who in the 2020 field supports and opposes it:
- Calls for a complete transition to renewable energy by 2030 and to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions
- Addresses topics like racial and economic inequality
- Includes a call for the government to guarantee jobs for everyone, support labor unions, and enact universal health care and housing
- Calls for a massive 10-year infrastructure plan that the resolution likens to spending during World War II
- It does not address how it would be paid for
- Does not include a direct call for imposing a price on climate pollution, like a carbon tax
- Supported by: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bill de Blasio, Andrew Yang, Jay Inslee, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson and Julian Castro
- Opposed by John Hickenlooper, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Tim Ryan and John Delaney
Booker calls out voter suppression
Booker got a huge applause line when he interjected in the discussion about how Democrats can win back Rust-belt states that they lost to Trump in 2016. This was the first time it was mentioned at the debate — and an important point. Experts have noted that in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County, for instance, which has a sizable black population, 60,000 fewer votes were cast in 2016 for Hillary Clinton than in 2012 for Barack Obama. Experts have attributed that to onerous voter ID laws designed to depress African American turnout.
Democrats will need to know how to not only turn out black voters in 2020 but also how to get them to actually cast a ballot. Civil liberties groups have raised alarm about access to polls, voter ID laws and other suppression tactics that could continue to depress turnout among minority voters.