EVENT ENDED

Democratic Debate live updates: MSNBC/Washington Post host

With impeachment at center stage, Democrats debated their visions to replace Trump.

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NBC News' live blog tracked the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential election cycle, co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

With the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump taking center stage,the 2020 candidates clashed over their visions to replace him. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg escaped unscathed after it was expected he'd draw heavy fire as the newly minted front-runner, while former Vice President Joe Biden stumbled with gaffes on women, marijuana and race.

Catch up quickly via our analysis and fact checks, and get a look at who came out swinging via our attack tracker. Or, see how the night unfolded below.

Live Blog

Buttigieg seemed to be a prime target, but he's only been attacked once tonight

Pete Buttigieg surged in a recent Iowa poll, making him a prime target for scrutiny during Wednesday night’s debate. But coming to the end of the debate, he's only been attacked one time.

Harris challenges Buttigieg on black support

Buttigieg came into Wednesday night’s debate leading the crowded Democratic field in Iowa and ranking among the top five candidates in most national polls. But, Buttigieg avoided direct criticism from other candidates on the debate stage for much of the first hour.

That was until Harris suggested that the mayor’s standing makes little sense when black Americans represent such a critical portion of the party’s electorate. Buttigieg’s support among black voters remains at or below 5 percent in most polls and black Americans face a critical set of political and social issues that will demand a president’s attention. 

“For too long candidates have taken for granted constituencies that have been the backbone of the Democratic Party,” Harris said. “The question has to be: ‘Where ya been, and what are you going to do?’”

Hinting at his weak support with African American voters, Buttigieg said he would “welcome the challenge of connecting with black voters in America that do not know me.” And although he has no experience of being discriminated against because of the color of his skin, Buttigieg said, “I do have the experience of being a stranger in my own country, turning on the news and seeing my rights up for debate.” 

He said this experience “lets me know just how deep my obligation is for those whose rights are on the line.”

Election Confessions submitted during the debate

Have you confessed?

Yang and Gabbard take the first question about race and white supremacy

The first question about race was asked, but only Yang and Gabbard got to answer. 

Gabbard said that it’s important for a leader to recognize racial bigotry and correct racial injustices in the country. Yang said that he would first order the DOJ to designate white supremacist violence as domestic terrorism. 

Fact check: Is Pete Buttigieg financially worth the least of those on stage?

Buttigieg claimed to have the least assets of anyone on the stage. According to Forbes' assessment, he's right.

With just $100,000 in estimated assets, he's significantly less well off than billionaire Tom Steyer or even millionaire Andrew Yang.

Sanders and Biden have spoken the most tonight, Yang the least

As of 10:30 p.m., Sanders and Biden are nearly tied at who's gotten the most speaking time at the debate. Yang trailed all the other candidates.

Buttigieg hits on security and artificial intelligence

Buttigieg warns the U.S. is falling behind on artificial intelligence, and that this poses a serious national security risk. Those fears are bolstered by warnings from people like the former head of U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command.

This is the kind of argument that has built momentum in recent years, particularly as China has invested aggressively in the technology. And while that has sparked some comparisons to the Cold War nuclear arms race with the U.S.S.R., some academics that follow China closely warn that the country’s AI expertise is getting overblown.

Fact check: Harris takes on the gender pay gap

Raising a point about the ineffectiveness of the Equal Pay Act, Harris noted, “Women are paid 80 cents on the dollar, black women — 61 cents, Native American women — 58 cents, Latinas — 53 cents.”

Harris appears to be drawing these numbers from a 2019 report by the American Association of University Women, which compared the earnings of women across several racial demographics to the earnings of white men. 

Her data is just slightly off, according to the AAUW’s report. According to the report, women are paid 82 cents for every dollar men earn. Black women make 62 cents on the dollar, Native American women make 57 cents and Hispanic women, 54 cents.

Biden offers a difference on Obama foreign policy — and it’s Saudi Arabia

Biden was asked a question earlier on where he’d differ from Obama on foreign policy and deflected to points on where he’d differ with Trump.

Soon after, he did offer a policy difference — on Saudi Arabia. It was in response to a question on whether he’d punish the Saudi royals for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"Yes, and I said it at the time,” he said, adding he thinks the killing happened at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s order.

Biden said he would stop U.S. weapons sales and that there was “very little social redeeming value” to the country.

Stopping weapons sales to the Saudis would certainly be a break from the Obama administration, which offered the country more than $115 billion in weapons, military equipment and training, according to a Reuters report from 2016. At the time, it was the most of any U.S. administration in the more than 70 years of the U.S.-Saudi alliance.

Castro's fans remind Twitter he's still in the running

Even though Julián Castro didn’t make it to the debate stage, his supporters tried to keep him visible with the hashtag the campaign adopted for the night, #JulianDebates.

Castro’s backers and the campaign made the hashtag a top trending hashtag by posting positions Castro has taken on issues that were raised in the debate.  His campaign also used it as an opportunity to raise donations.

Castro used the hashtag in his posts too, including when debate moderators asked candidates about housing, an issue he has been pushing debate organizers to include in their questions.

“Finally, housing question,” Castro tweeted. “Wonder who could have answered that?”

Fact check: Gabbard's claims about past presidents and 'regime change wars'

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said there was an "ongoing Bush, Clinton, Trump foreign policy doctrine of regime change wars, overthrowing dictators in other countries." 

This is mostly false. President Donald Trump hasn’t started any wars that can be considered regime change wars — he’s actually focused more on getting out of military engagements. President Bill Clinton didn’t start what could be considered "regime change wars," either, though he did order some military strikes in Iraq and support a policy of ousting Saddam Hussein, the country's president. But it was President George W. Bush who famously launched a war in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, which resulted in the removal and execution of Hussein.

It’s possible Gabbard is referring to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who served under President Barack Obama, but that's not clear, and wouldn't be correct. The secretary of state — while crucially involved in foreign policy — is not the decision maker, the president is.