The race to make the third round of debates is on
With the first two rounds of Democratic debates in the books, attention will begin turning to which candidates will make the DNC's cut for the third round in early September.
The thresholds for qualifying for the next debate will increase, per DNC rules. Candidates must register at least 2 percent in four separate polls (from different media sponsors or different regions with the same media sponsor) and reach a minimum of 130,000 unique donors to their campaigns. The donor threshold is self-reported by the campaigns themselves for now and the DNC does not confirm who has made it until the end of the qualifying period.
That donor threshold is one reason so many candidates touted their websites during the debates. Under the DNC rules, here's where the 20 candidates on stage this week currently stand, according to our count:
Candidates who have reached both thresholds:
Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren
Candidates who have reached the polling but not the donor threshold:
Candidates who have reached the donor but not the polling threshold:
Julián Castro, Andrew Yang
Candidates who have not reached either threshold:
Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan and Marianne Williamson
Twitter knows the flavor
Another viral exchange tonight came during a discussion on criminal justice, when Booker claimed Biden, in attacking Booker's record on the issue as mayor of Newark, was "dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor" (see our earlier blog post for more on that exchange). It quickly became a top-tweeted moment.
Fact check: Biden wrongly suggests Obama put protections for 'Dreamers' into law
Earlier in the evening, Biden suggested that President Barack Obama put a plan to protect "Dreamers" — some 700,000 undocumented immigrant who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — into law.
"The president came along, and he's the guy that came up with the idea the first time ever, dealing with the Dreamers. He put that in the law," Biden said, attempting to fend off a broadside from New York City's mayor over the number of deportations that occurred under the Obama administration.
But that's not true. The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act was a bill that would have given legal status to the so-called “Dreamers.” Several versions of the bill have been introduced in recent years — including while Obama was president — but it has never passed.
Faced with that reality, Obama signed an executive order in 2012 that put into place his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed "Dreamers" without felonies or serious misdemeanors to stay in the country and be eligible for work permits.
However, because it was put into place via executive action, it was always possible that the program would only be temporary. In 2017, President Donald Trump moved to end DACA, although the effort is still tied up in court. The Supreme Court said in June it would decide the fate of the program during its next term.
Fact check: Did 'almost all' of the tax cuts since 2001 go to the wealthiest Americans?
"Since 2001, we have cut $5 trillion worth of taxes. Almost all of it has gone to the wealthiest people in America,” Bennet claimed Wednesday night.
This is exaggerated.
Nearly two-thirds of $5.1 trillion in tax cuts went to the richest fifth of Americans, according to a 2018 report from the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. That’s quite a lot, but it’s not “almost all.”
Gillibrand wants to clean up the environment — in the White House
During a conversation about climate change, Gillibrand was asked about her support for the Green New Deal and whether the proposal is realistic. People are still talking about her answer.
The New York senator responded that her first act as president would be to douse the Oval with Clorox bleach. Re-engaging the U.S. on global climate change would be job No. 2, she said.
Biden sets internet ablaze with closing call to arms
Biden told his followers to “go to Joe 30330 and help me in this fight.”
A quick peek at his Twitter account makes clear that supporters need to “text Joe to 30330,” but the internet had a good time with this one. Many laughs were had on Twitter where users contemplated if Biden knew what he was talking about, thought he was running in an election thousands of years in the future and so on.
Harris dings Biden for his past support of the Hyde Amendment
Nearing the end of the debate, Harris knocked Biden for supporting — until just recently — the Hyde Amendment, a federal law that bars the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions.
"On the Hyde Amendment, Vice President, where you made a decision for years to withhold resources to poor women to have access to reproductive health care, including women who were the victims of rape and incest, do you now say that you have evolved and you regret that?" Harris asked. "Because you have only, since you’ve been running for president this time, said that you had in some way would take that back or you didn’t agree with the decision that you made over many, many years."
Harris is right — the vice president backtracked on his support for the Hyde Amendment just months ago in June, amid a flurry of criticism.
""I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to ... exercise their constitutionally protected right," Biden said, when he announced his departure from the long-held belief. "If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's ZIP code."
Who is Tulsi Gabbard?
According to Google Trends, Joe Biden (in yellow) was dominating as the most-searched candidate. During the debate, it was Tulsi Gabbard (in blue).
Fact check: Biden alleges Harris allowed 1,000 prisoners back on the street
Biden attacked Harris' record as attorney general of California on Wednesday night with a lengthy story, earning protestations from Harris about the accuracy of his claims.
Biden suggested that Harris defied staff recommendations and failed to disclose information about law enforcement misconduct to defense attorneys. As a result, Biden said, "Along came a federal judge and said enough, enough. And he freed 1,000 of these people. If you doubt me, Google 1,000 prisoners freed, Kamala Harris," Biden said.
What Biden said is mostly true, though he muddled a few details in his telling.
As attorney general, Harris’ aides encouraged her to adopt a Brady policy in 2005 — a rule requiring prosecutors to disclose past misconduct by law enforcement witnesses — to defendants and their attorneys. According to The Wall Street Journal, she did not do so for years and came under fire when a scandal highlighted her department's lack of such a policy.
In 2010, a police crime-lab technician — with a criminal conviction that had not been disclosed to defendants and likely would have kept her away from processing drug evidence — was found to be skimming cocaine from evidence for personal use, according to The Wall Street Journal. With those lab results jeopardized and results considered tainted, roughly 1,000 cases were dismissed or dropped. A Superior Court judge blamed Harris for the fiasco and Harris reportedly scrambled to officially institute a Brady policy. So, while 1,000 "prisoners" were not released, some 1,000 cases were dismissed or dropped.
Biden did inaccurately claim that Harris never instituted a Brady policy. She did do so after the crime lab scandal.
The final numbers on who was attacked in tonight's debate
Here's the rundown on the on-stage candidates and other noteworthy figures targeted the most in Night 2 of the Democratic presidential debates. Read the full list of candidate attacks here.
Why did Gillibrand go after Biden on women in the workplace?
During an exchange with Biden, Gillibrand accused the former Delaware senator of voting against affordable child care and having said, 38 years ago, "women working outside the home would lead to the deterioration of family."
It's true that in 1981, Biden voted against an expansion of the child tax credit — a measure designed to help families pay for child care — saying on the Senate floor that wealthy families (ones earning more than $30,000 in 1981) shouldn’t receive it. (He did, however, support families earning less than $30,000 receiving the credit).
Critics at the time said Biden’s position would have made it more difficult for women to re-enter the workplace after giving birth, because it would stop families with two working parents from qualifying for the child tax credit. Biden, in his floor remarks ahead of the vote at the time, addressed that criticism and argued that the federal government should not be in the business of encouraging “families to make the decision to entrust the primary care of their infant, of their young children, to a daycare center.”
“That should be available for people who do not have a choice,” he said, according to a transcript of the floor debate.
NBC News has not identified the op-ed Gillibrand said Biden wrote, but a campaign aide tweeted: