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

Here's who attacked President Trump in the debate

The Trump Show it was not.

A question about impeachment kicked off the debate, and while President Trump was a presence here and there, by the final hour Trump had all but disappeared from candidate talk.

Tallying 30-plus attacks over the fourth debates three hours, Trump was only attacked seven times in the last sixty minutes, compared with 31 times in the first two hours. Andrew Yang gave (Microsoft search engine) Bing as much grief as he gave Trump.

Here are the numbers on candidate attacks on Trump throughout the fourth Democratic debate.

See the candidate attacks in the fourth Democratic debate, by the numbers.

Here's how the candidates answered that friendship question

A question aimed at a controversy involving Ellen Degeneres and George W. Bush got many groans online, but drew a variety of answers on stage. Asked who they are friends with who are not like them or did not view things as they do, candidates dropped names like John McCain, Chris Christie, Rand Paul and Jim Inhofe. Some candidates chose not to name anyone specifically, however.

Love is all you need.

Fact check: Sanders gets his numbers right on job losses due to trade deals

Bernie Sanders, in attacking Joe Biden, said the former vice president was responsible for helping to put into effect "trade agreements like NAFTA and PNTR with China," which, Sanders said, "cost us 4 million jobs.”

Sanders made this claim during the September debate. It was true then, and it's true now— according to several reputable analyses. 

As NBC News’ Carrie Dann reported in February during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, job losses resulting from NAFTA tend to be overstated — but one major study found that more than 850,000 jobs were displaced by the pact. 

Robert E. Scott of the pro-labor Economic Policy Institute found that about 851,700 U.S. jobs were displaced by the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico between 1993 (shortly before NAFTA was implemented) and 2014. That’s a data point that was cited by Sanders during his 2016 campaign, when he frequently decried job losses due to NAFTA. (Other studies, however, have found the job losses to be far less.)

When it comes to granting PNTR (“permanent normal trade relations” status) to China, which President George W. Bush formally did in 2001 after China entered the World Trade Organization, U.S. job losses have been larger, according to studies.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service wrote in 2018, citing a 2014 study by the Economic Policy Institute, that “growth in the U.S. goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013 eliminated or displaced 3.2 million U.S. jobs (three-fourths of which were in manufacturing).”

If you add the 851,700 figure with the 3.2 million figure, you would see a figure that approximates the 4 million figure that Sanders referred to.

Baseball and donut shops: What the other candidates are doing on debate night

The half dozen candidates who didn’t qualify for tonight’s debate instead spent the evening watching baseball and livestreaming their messages to supporters on social media. 

Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney got to watch the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, while keeping an eye on the debate on his phone.

“These questions about age are inappropriate in my judgement,” he tweeted.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock was watching the debate with his family, according to a spokesperson. 

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio had a similar plan, saying in a text message that he was watching “some” of the debate while also “reading to my five-year-old.”

Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, retired Adm. Joe Sestak was livestreaming his answers to the debate questions over on Facebook, “live from a Donut shop in New Hampshire,” he announced on Twitter. 

And self-help author Marianne Williamson was speaking in Encinitas, California, which she too livestreamed online, where she said America needs to “know who we are and claim the power of knowing who we are.” 

The final question is about friendship

Buttigieg says his Supreme Court plan is more than 'packing' courts

Buttigieg referred to his plan to change the Supreme Court, which he said could be done without a Constitutional amendment. 

He said it wasn’t just “packing” the court, however, since his plan would involve restructuring the court to include justices backed by both parties rather than just expanding it.

Under his proposal, the court would have 15 justices, five supported by Republicans, five by Democrats, and five chosen by the 10 partisan justices. He talked to NBC News about his plan earlier. 

Who wants to tell Cory Booker about Robert Bork?

“We need regulation and reform. And anti-trust? I mean, Robert Bork right now is laughing in his sleep,” Sen. Cory Booker said Tuesday night, referencing the prominent conservative judge and antitrust scholar.

Bork is not sleeping. Bork has been dead since 2012. 

The three major candidates go at it

Biden said that presidential candidates can’t be “vague” about their proposals and then hit Sanders and Warren for Medicare for All. He said he’s the only one on stage to get big things done. Sanders hit back, saying some of those big things, such as the Iraq War, were actually not good.

Warren jumped in to defend her record and talked about the founding of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — something Biden said he played a large role in getting passed. Warren then thanked Obama for helping create the agency.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on stage during the Democratic Presidential Debate on Oct. 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio.Win McNamee / Getty Images

Fact check: Yang says there were more opioid prescriptions than people in Ohio

Yang, making a point about the devastating effect of the opioid epidemic, said that at one point, "there were more opioid prescriptions in the state of Ohio than human beings in the state of Ohio."

This is true, according to government data about opioid prescription rates in 2010, when there were 102.4 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons in the state in 2010. The prescription rate has since gone down.

Good question here