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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Klobuchar roasts Trump and Warren early
Klobuchar, one of the candidates in need of a breakout moment, landed punches twice in the opening stage of the debate on a pair of the hottest topics.
The first came as several candidates were asked to explain their positions on impeaching Trump. Klobuchar said Trump put his own interests before those of his country. Borrowing his slogan, she said pressuring Ukraine to investigate an opponent, his abandonment of the Kurds and his affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin did not make America great but made Russia great.
Later, as Warren tried to avoid agreeing with Sanders that their Medicare for All plans would result in broad tax increases, Klobuchar cut through some of the policy noise. “At least Bernie’s being honest here,” she said. “I’m sorry Elizabeth but you have not said that … The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done.”
What’s the difference between Warren, Buttgieg, Biden on health care?
Warren and Buttigieg got into an extended exchange on health care, with Warren defending her Medicare for All plan and Buttigieg defending his alternative.
Here’s how each plan works: Warren would move virtually all Americans to a more generous version of Medicare that has no premiums and few out-of-pocket costs. Once everyone was moved to the new plan, all comprehensive private insurance plans would be banned, although customers could purchase supplemental insurance that cover any items that Medicare does not. Estimates of the cost peg it at upwards of $32 trillion over 10 years, although proponents argue it will lower overall health care spending by eliminating overhead and negotiating lower payments to hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical companies.
Buttigieg’s approach is dubbed “Medicare For All Who Want It,” and would automatically enroll some uninsured in a Medicare-like plan and allow other Americans to either keep their existing private insurance or buy in to the Medicare plan with aid from federal subsidies based on their income. No one would pay more than 8.5 percent of their income in premiums. His plan would also cap the amount health providers are allowed to charge private insurers relative to Medicare. Buttigieg estimates the cost would be $1.5 trillion and be paid for with new taxes on corporations.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has a relatively similar $750 billion plan that would also create a Medicare-like option and cap premiums with expanded subsidies, but make participation voluntary.
You can read about all the candidates plans at our issue tracker.
Klobuchar promises to make drug giants pay for 'killing' Ohioans
Klobuchar won applause with a threat to force opioid manufacturers to pay for the people who have suffered from the consequences of drug addiction, including fatal overdoses.
The threat is likely to register in Ohio, which has the second highest rate of drug overdoses in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health.
Just this month, drug giant Johnson & Johnson reached a $20 million settlement with Ohio counties and avoided a potential federal trial, according to NBC News.
Cory Booker gets a bit of time, and he thanks the moderators for it. He’s been just about silent in the debate so far. There are just too many candidates for some people not to slip through the cracks for long periods of time.
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.
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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.
Bernie revisits his favorite line
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.