Democratic debate live updates: Candidates spar in October debate in Ohio

Image: Twelve candidates will take the stage in a Democratic presidential primary debate in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 15, 2019.
Twelve candidates will take the stage in a Democratic presidential primary debate in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 15, 2019.Adrian Lam / NBC News

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NBC News' live blog tracked the ups, downs and confrontations of the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential election cycle, co-hosted by CNN and The New York Times.

The largest group of candidates took the stage Tuesday night at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. They included front-runners Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Sen. Bernie Sanders, who returned to the campaign after having a heart attack two weeks ago; billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who appeared in his first debate of the cycle; and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who missed the September go-round after failing to qualify.

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Live Blog

Fact check: Castro claims Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania have lost jobs

Early on Tuesday night, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro said that, "Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, actually, in the latest jobs data, have lost jobs, not gained them."

This doesn’t appear to be true, at least when it comes to Michigan and Pennsylvania. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment — both the rate and the total number of persons who are unemployed — went down in Michigan from July 2019 to August 2019, the latest month for which state data is available.

In Pennsylvania, the unemployment rate remained the same from July 2019 to August 2019. The number of people who were unemployed increased from July 2019 to August 2019, but so did the number of people who were employed.

Castro is right about Ohio, however, where both the unemployment rate and the number of persons unemployed increased from July 2019 to August 2019.

Have you changed your mind about a Democratic candidate? Tell us.

As you're watching the Democratic debate tonight, share your anonymous Election Confession about the 2020 candidates. One just in about Amy Klobuchar:

Warren comes under fire

Warren has watched her stock rise in the polls as she faced little pushback from fellow Democratic presidential candidates on the trail and in the debates.

That changed Tuesday. Already, Buttigieg and Klobuchar took aim at her over Medicare for All, signaling a gloves-off approach is over.

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN in Westerville, Ohio on Oct. 15, 2019.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

Bernie revisits his favorite line

Sanders has said it before, and he said it again tonight: He wrote the damn bill. The bill, in this case, is a Medicare for All proposal

Buttigieg hits Warren on 'Medicare for All'

Buttigieg took the biggest shot at Warren that the Massachusetts senator has faced on a presidential debate stage so far. Warren was asked whether Medicare for All would raise taxes on the middle class, and she instead said that she would sign no bill that would raise costs on the middle class.

Buttigieg then shot back, “A yes-or-no question that didn’t get a yes-or-no answer,” and took aim at Warren for having a plan for everything but not addressing that question. Warren then hit back, taking aim at Buttigieg’s health care proposal.

Biden defends his son amid Ukraine controversy

Biden was asked about his son’s business dealings while he was vice president, but he seemed to dodge the question by making it about Trump’s alleged abuses of power and said that Trump is only attacking him because he’s the only one who can beat Trump in the general election.

Biden’s campaign has been struggling somewhat to counter the onslaught of allegations from Trump and his allies. But Biden said that he was satisfied with his son’s response to questions about his business dealings in which his son Hunter said he showed poor judgment and may have benefited from nepotism. Biden promised to avoid the appearance of conflict. However, none of his contenders appeared to have jumped in to attack him on the issue. 

Buttigieg discusses what happens if Trump is impeached or voted out

Every candidate on stage reiterated their support for impeachment, but Buttigieg took his time to discuss what happens if Trump is impeached or voted out, saying it’s going to be more important to figure out how the country would move forward post-Trump. He noted that divisions in the country would be likely to worsen in the aftermath.

Polls show mixed bag on support for impeachment

As the debate kicked off with questions about impeachment, a series of recent polls have shown growing support for an impeachment inquiry by Congress, although Americans remain split about whether the president should be impeached and removed from office. 

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week found that a majority of adults  — 55 percent — say that there is either enough evidence to impeach Trump and remove him from office now (24 percent) or that Congress should keep pursuing the investigation (31 percent.) Another 39 percent say there is not enough evidence for a congressional inquiry. 

But if asked to choose between just two options — removing him from office or allowing him to stay — it's a mixed bag. 

Forty-three percent say Trump should be removed, while 49 percent say he should not be impeached and removed at this time. 

Candidates agree that Trump is the most corrupt president

Right off the bat, four candidates came out swinging at Trump by calling him the most corrupt president in the country’s history: Sanders, Biden, Harris and Klobuchar.

These remarks, of course, come against the backdrop of the  House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and 2020 Democrats’ belief that Trump needs to be held accountable for alleged abuses of power.

Pat Sajack is out

“Wheel of Fortune” host and noted conservative Pat Sajack lasted about two minutes tonight.

Impeachment questions right off the bat

CNN’s Anderson Cooper launched the debate by asking the candidates, beginning with Sens. Warren and Sanders and former Vice President Biden, about impeachment  — a topic almost entirely avoided during the first three Democratic debates. This comes after Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions with regard to Ukraine.

All  of the candidates on stage have backed impeachment.