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Democratic Debate: Live updates from Night 1 in July

Ten candidates face off, including leading progressives Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren at center stage.
Image: The second Democratic debate, hosted by CNN, is taking place over two nights in Detroit with 10 candidates on stage each night.
The second Democratic debate, hosted by CNN, is taking place over two nights in Detroit with 10 candidates on stage each night.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Night 1 of the second Democratic debate is in the books. The gloves came off over health care as the moderates on the stage took aim at leading progressives Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Look back on all the action as it happened, and for all of the night's fact checks, go here. Join us tomorrow for Night 2 of the debate, which will begin at 8 p.m. ET. Download the NBC News app for full coverage of both nights of the second Democratic debate.

Fact check: Americans pay 10 times more for insulin than Canadians

1107d ago / 1:02 AM UTC

"When I went to Canada the other day, people paid 1/10th the price of insulin that they’re paying in the U.S.," Sen. Bernie Sanders claimed Tuesday night. 

Americans do pay 10 times more than Canadians for insulin, according to the reports documenting Americans who drive across the border to purchase the lower-priced insulin. The cost of insulin for treating Type 1 diabetes nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016, according to the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute. 

Candidates split on immigration

1107d ago / 1:01 AM UTC

CNN's Dana Bash attempted to pin down the candidates over a “show of hands” moment in the June debate where several endorsed former HUD chief Julián Castro’s proposal to decriminalize illegal border crossings by downgrading it to a civil infraction from its current criminal status.

Candidates tonight squirmed. Buttigieg said that “we can argue over the finer points,” but Bash wasn’t having it. Buttigieg instead decried the “show of hands” moment from the last debate. “We're not doing that here,” Bash said. 

O’Rourke and Hickenlooper both said they disagreed with decriminalizing border crossings.

Warren made a moral case: “The criminalization statute is what gives Donald Trump the ability to take children away from their parents.” Bash pushed Warren, and she said “yes,” she would decriminalize illegal border crossings. 

Explainer: Why is it a criminal offense to enter the U.S. illegally?

1107d ago / 12:59 AM UTC

During an extended discussion on immigration, many of the candidates on stage were asked for their views on whether crossing the U.S. border illegally should constitute a criminal offense.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said the U.S. should "decriminalize" illegal border crossings, because the criminal statute is what gives President Donald Trump "the ability to lock up people at our borders." Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., agreed, saying that "I would say there is the will to change this in Congress."

But why is crossing the border illegally a criminal offense at all?

Under Section 1325, a portion of federal immigration law, entering the U.S. illegally is a criminal offense

Simply being in the U.S. without authorization is a civil offense — and people who are found to be in the U.S. without papers can be deported — but section 1325 adds a layer of criminality. 

Sanders dodges question about health care for undocumented

1107d ago / 12:58 AM UTC

Dana Bash asked Sanders if he believes guaranteeing undocumented immigrants access to health care and college would encourage more illegal border crossings.

Sanders, who has led the field in embracing health care for undocumented immigrants, quickly dispensed with a promise to enforce “strong border protections” before pivoting to a blanket attack on President Trump’s “racism and xenophobia.”

Tim Ryan contrasts his immigration stance with the more progressive candidates

1107d ago / 12:58 AM UTC

Fact check: Bullock says 'we pay more' for drugs than 'any place in the world'

1107d ago / 12:56 AM UTC

"We pay more for prescription drugs than any place, actually, in the world. We’ve got nothing to show for it," Bullock said during a round of questions about health care.

Close. Americans pay more for drugs than people in any other developed country in the world, CNBC reported, citing recent studies.  

Bullock also suggested that the U.S. should negotiate drug prices in order to help Americans afford their meds. It's currently illegal to do so. Federal law bars the government from negotiating drug prices, so Congress would have to change the law for this to become possible. Experts also argue that the government would need more tools than just the power to negotiate to really derive savings.

Klobuchar is trying to stand out for getting things done

1107d ago / 12:56 AM UTC

Amy Klobuchar’s team has been prepping her to be the candidate that shows she can get things done and not have pie-in-the-sky ideas.

So far in the debate, she answered a lot of her questions with a hypothetical legislative process to fix the issue or what she has already done as a lawmaker — staying true to that prep. 

More Democrats favor decriminalizing illegal border crossings than all voters

1107d ago / 12:56 AM UTC

CNN opened its questioning on immigration by asking candidates whether or not crossing the border without documentation should be decriminalized. 

Here's what voters said in response to a recent NPR/NewsHour/Marist poll question on this topic, which asked: "Do you think decriminalizing illegal border crossings is a good idea or a bad idea?"

Among all voters, just 27 percent said it was a good idea, while 67 percent called it a bad idea. 

Among just Democrats, 45 percent called it a good idea, while 47 percent called it a bad idea. 

'Good' union insurance a rare thing

1107d ago / 12:54 AM UTC

The extended discussion about unionized worker health insurance benefits lacked a key bit of perspective. 

In 2018, only 10.5 percent of American workers — about 14.7 million people — were members of unions, according to federal data.

Moderators allow skirmishes but keep a firm hand

1107d ago / 12:53 AM UTC

CNN’s team of moderators have let the candidates mix it up when they call each other out while also enforcing the time limits. That’s receiving a mixed response on Twitter.

Early battle shows Bernie’s strong position on health care

1107d ago / 12:50 AM UTC

Candidates positioning themselves in the center are taking shots at Sanders more so than Warren on health care.

Bernie wants to be the candidate most associated with health care, and some of these candidates are making his job slightly easier. It doesn't hurt that he wrote the Medicare for All bill.

Warren ducks questions on middle-class taxes

1107d ago / 12:50 AM UTC

Elizabeth Warren was a standout in her first debate in Miami. And she’s keeping up that reputation tonight in Detroit — with one early exception.

CNN’s Jake Tapper twice asked Warren if she agreed with Bernie Sanders that, to pay for single-payer health care that she supports, taxes would have to go up for the middle class.

And twice Warren ducked the direct question.

She answered that “giant corporations” and “the wealthy” will pay more, and that middle-class Americans will pay less for their out-of-pocket costs.

But she didn’t admit that those lower out-of-pocket costs and zero co-pays come by raising taxes on all Americans, as Sanders’ plan does.

Attacks flying left and right

1107d ago / 12:48 AM UTC

Our data reporter Nigel Chiwaya is tracking all sorts of attacks at tonight's debate. As of 8:48 p.m. the candidates have attacked Donald Trump 6 times, Mitch McConnell 0 times, Wall Street and corporations 6 times and the "ultra rich" 4 times. Follow all of the attacks here

Buttigieg stakes out a place in the middle of the health care fight


1107d ago / 12:47 AM UTC

Buttigieg used a familiar argument from the campaign trail in the health care fight. He says that people should stop with political triangulation in getting universal health care passed because Republicans are going to call them socialists anyway.

“So let’s just stand up for the right policy and then go out there and defend it,” he said.

This debate Buttigieg finally gets a chance to focus on policy. Last debate, he grappled with a police shooting in his hometown.

Health care brawl breaks out over first 20 minutes of debate

1107d ago / 12:45 AM UTC

It’s clear lower-polling candidates like Delaney and Bullock went into tonight’s debate dead-set on hitting Sanders and Warren over their health care positions. This debate has split the stage into three factions. On one end, Sanders and Warren. On the other end, Delaney, Bullock and Ryan. Trying to stake out ground in the middle are Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Buttigieg and Williamson. Hickenlooper hasn’t gotten a chance to join in. But candidates who are at 1 percent or less in the polls are really trying to land punches on Sanders and Warren.

Bernie shows off his Spanish... on Twitter

1107d ago / 12:43 AM UTC

No Spanish on stage yet but on Twitter, Sanders tweets a message about health care.

Sanders says health care is 'not a business!’

1107d ago / 12:41 AM UTC

Delaney, touting his career experience in the health care field, said the other candidates on the stage didn’t have a sufficient understanding of the “health care business.”

Sanders, off camera, was quick with a retort: “It’s not a business!”

Public option health care proposals more popular than single-payer

1107d ago / 12:41 AM UTC

As this health care conversation gets underway, here's a look at how popular some of the competing ideas are. 

A recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 51 percent of Americans over all support "a national health plan, sometimes called 'Medicare for all,' in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan." (In other words, a plan that would eliminate private insurance entirely in favor of solely a government run plan, as Bernie Sanders has been arguing for.)  That's down from a high of 59 percent last year. 

The same survey found that more Americans — 65 percent — back a more moderate public option proposal that would offer a Medicare-like plan to those who want it while keeping private insurance in place. Among the candidates who support that kind of plan are Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg.

Sanders: ‘Jake, your question is a Republican talking point.’

1107d ago / 12:39 AM UTC

Health care has proven to be a heated issue right out the gate — and not just between the candidates. 

“Jake, your question is a Republican talking point,” Sanders said in response to Tapper asking about how to pay for Medicare for All. The crowd responded to the comment with a round of applause.

“And by the way, the health care industry will be advertising tonight on this program,” Sanders added, before Tapper said his time was up.

Not Warren's style of debate?

1107d ago / 12:36 AM UTC

Warren dodges chance to attack Sanders’ health care plan

1107d ago / 12:36 AM UTC

That was a skillful dodge from Elizabeth Warren. Jake Tapper asked her if her plan was different from Sanders’ plan, but she pivoted back to the big issue of the profit-making in health care.

Warren and Sanders are close friends and aides have already told NBC News to not expect fireworks between the two. I wonder if they will lean on each other during the rest of the debate to defend attacks on their political vision.

Warren shuts down audience laughter: ‘This isn’t funny.’

1107d ago / 12:34 AM UTC

Pivoting back to a story about single payer activist Ady Barkan, who is dying of ALS, struggling to pay for his health care, Warren elicited some chuckles from the audience. She wasn’t interested in a moment of levity or in trying to warm the crowd.

“This isn’t funny,” she said, before continuing on about Barkan’s story. 

Fact check: Sanders says Amazon made billions and paid zero in federal taxes

1107d ago / 12:32 AM UTC

Sanders opened with a broadside against Amazon. "Tonight as we speak right now, 500,000 Americans are sleeping out on the street, and yet companies like Amazon that made billions in profits did not pay one nickel in federal income tax," he said.

He's right, according to an analysis of corporate filings put out by the progressive think tank Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP.)  

The analysis did not review state and local taxes, however.

Sanders defends 'Medicare for All,' slams Delaney

1107d ago / 12:32 AM UTC

The first question of the night went to Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the highest polling candidates on the stage tonight.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Sanders to respond to former Rep. John Delaney, who has harshly criticized the Vermont senator’s advocacy for "Medicare for All."

Sanders’ response: “You’re wrong!”

Klobuchar calls Trump’s attacks 'racist'

1107d ago / 12:29 AM UTC

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was the first candidate in the opening to call Trump’s attacks “racist,” in what is likely a reference to the president's recent tweets aimed at four congresswomen of color, Rep. Elijah Cummings and the city of Baltimore, which is part of Cummings’ district.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also called out Trump’s “racism” in his opening remarks.

Detroit's population is 83 percent black. It is the city with the highest percentage of African Americans anywhere in the country. It also has the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the U.S., according to census data, and growing Asian American, Latinx and refugee communities.

Fact check: Hickenlooper brags about expanding health care, reproductive rights

1107d ago / 12:29 AM UTC

Hickenlooper said in his opening remarks that he “expanded health care and reproductive rights” when he was governor of Colorado. 

This is true, but there's more to the story.

Hickenlooper is referring to the effects of the the Colorado Family Planning Initiative — a state program that provided IUDs or birth control implants at little or no cost for low-income women. But Hickenlooper would be hard-pressed to take all of the credit for it. The program was put in place in 2009 — two years before he took office.

When it comes to health care, Hickenlooper, using a provision in the Affordable Care Act, expanded Medicaid in Colorado to such a degree that, according to his campaign website, “95 percent of Coloradans have health care coverage.”

A reputable survey in the state from 2017, the latest data published — the Colorado Health Access Survey — found that 93.5 percent of Coloradans had health insurance, an “all-time” high for the state because of the expansion.

Now, the debate begins

1107d ago / 12:27 AM UTC

After a lengthy intro and some opening statements, the "debate" portion of the night starts at 8:25 p.m. ET.

And remember, there will be two full hours of debate followed by closing statements.

Battle lines sharpening in the Dems' health care fight

1107d ago / 12:22 AM UTC

The Democratic candidates are likely to highlight their health care proposals in the second primary debate tonight and tomorrow — a topic that has spurred a high-profile fight among the field's top-tier candidates.

Biden is making the case that Democrats should retain the core structure of the Affordable Care Act, which subsidizes private insurance and Medicaid for Americans who don't get coverage from their employer or other government programs.

Sanders, however, has long called for guaranteeing every American coverage through a more generous version of Medicare and banning competing private plans.

We're tracking which candidate gets targeted the most tonight

1107d ago / 12:22 AM UTC

The Detroit stage could be the last time some candidates will appear before a nationwide audience. Which means they're faced with a choice: spend the night focusing on themselves or attempt to knock down one of the front-runners.

Our graphic will update each time a candidate attacks another candidate during the debate. It will also track how many times they attack Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, corporations and the “ultra-rich.” Follow along here

NBC News

Yang is unenthusiastically passing the popcorn

1107d ago / 12:18 AM UTC

And they're off!

1107d ago / 12:18 AM UTC

Candidates kick off the debate by delivering their opening statements.

BULLOCK: I’m a red-state governor who can get the job done. I’m progressive. That last debate was a lot of fighting and big promises. I’m going to deliver real solutions.

WILLIAMSON: Founding Fathers' ideal was that everyone could thrive. We haven’t realized this fully. Now it is time for Americans to rise up again against an amoral economic system.

DELANEY: Attacks Warren and Sanders for their progressive agenda, says they’ll get Trump re-elected. Then lists his ideas, which he says will win back the White House.

RYAN: “America is great, but not everyone can access America’s greatness.” Economic system isn’t working for the middle class anymore. Not about reforming old systems but building new systems.

HICKENLOOPER: Democrats flipped a ton of seats last fall, and none of those Democrats support the Sanders, Warren agenda.

KLOBUCHAR: “Ultimately, we have to beat Donald Trump.” Says she has “had it with the racist attacks.” She has “bold ideas grounded in reality” and has a history of winning in the Midwest. Will govern with integrity.

O’ROURKE: “This moment will define us forever.” Calls Trump a “lawless president.” Will fight for a “more perfect union.”

BUTTIGIEG: “Our country is running out of time” this moment is more dangerous than just Trump. America is already in crisis. War, climate change, a stagnant economy. Running for president to change this.

WARREN: "Donald Trump disgraces the office of president every single day." She says anyone on this stage tonight or tomorrow will be better than him. She will work to elect whoever wins. Is trying to fight the “corrupt, rigged system” that enabled Trump.

SANDERS: More than 80 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured. Many Americans are sleeping out on the street, meanwhile Amazon pays no federal income tax. I’m fighting to change this system. Let’s take on Trump’s racism, sexism and xenophobia to beat Trump and transform the U.S.

Share your Election Confessions about the candidates during the debate

1107d ago / 12:14 AM UTC

Tell us what you really think about the 2020 election. What are your thoughts on the presidential candidates? How do you feel about the race itself so far? About the state of the country? Share your anonymous confession with NBC News at during the Democratic debate.

Search the candidates' answers on key topics

1107d ago / 12:13 AM UTC

Immigration, health care, gun control and climate change were just some of the major topics of discussion in the first Democratic primary debate last month.

See how the candidates answered on those topics and more by searching here for Night 1 and here for Night 2.

Introducing the candidates

1107d ago / 12:09 AM UTC

The candidates arrive on stage, beginning with Sanders and Warren.

Bullock is the only candidate on stage tonight who did not appear in one of the June debates.

Your moderators tonight are CNN hosts Dana Bash, Jake Tapper, and Don Lemon.

Image: Dems debate - 1st night
Image: Dems debate, 1st night

How will Sanders and Warren interact?

1107d ago / 12:06 AM UTC

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are set to take the stage together during the second Democratic debate. NBC News’ Jonathan Allen weighs in on how these politicians, and friends, will interact during the highly anticipated event.

Get comfy — these debates will be lengthy

1107d ago / 12:03 AM UTC

CNN's debates will be a little longer than the previous ones that aired on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

CNN's program will kick off each night at 8 p.m. ET with opening remarks from each candidate. That will lead into two full hours of debate, followed by closing statements, according to a source familiar with the production who was not authorized to speak publicly. 

In Vegas, they might put the over-under at about two hours and 45 minutes.

Buttigieg rocks out to ‘Hamilton’ before the debates

1107d ago / 11:53 PM UTC

Pete Buttigieg pumped himself up for Night 1 of the second Democratic debate by rocking out to “My Shot (Rise Up Remix)” by The Roots from "The Hamilton Mixtape." In his choice of music, Buttigieg might be hinting subtly at his age. The 37-year-old mayor, along with 38-year-old Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, are the two millennials in the race. 

DNC Chairman Tom Perez warms up the crowd

1107d ago / 11:47 PM UTC

Meet the candidates

1107d ago / 11:45 PM UTC

Meet the primary candidates angling to unseat Trump. For complete coverage of each campaign, click a portrait in the link below.

More protesters march in Detroit

1107d ago / 11:37 PM UTC

Taylor Swift posts 'a very important reminder'

1107d ago / 11:36 PM UTC

Pop music superstar Taylor Swift posted a message to her fans on Tuesday: Watch the debate.

"A very important reminder," Swift posted to the Stories feature on Instagram. "The Democratic debates will be on tonight & tomorrow night at 8pm Eastern. Make sure to watch and get to know the candidates! On @cnn."

Swift, who had famously avoided politics during much of her career, began to wade into the scene in 2018, when she endorsed two Democrats in Tennessee

Taylor Swift's Instagram story
@taylorswift / Instagram

Biden leads Democratic field in poll on eve of debate

1107d ago / 11:22 PM UTC

The Motor City revs up

1107d ago / 11:11 PM UTC

The scene outside the debate has attracted a variety of the politically minded, who have donned their red, white and best for the occasion.

All-white Dem debate set to grapple with Trump and race in Detroit

1107d ago / 11:01 PM UTC

An awkward twist of fate has an all-white cast of 10 Democratic presidential candidates taking the debate stage tonight amid a national firestorm over President Trump's racist commentary.

A random draw by CNN, the debate's host, put them out front — without including a single one of the five contenders of color, all of whom will participate on the second night of the debate on Wednesday along with Joe Biden, the front-runner in the polls.

So, the 10 white men and women on Tuesday will be the first of the candidates to answer the president's put-downs and try to refute his assertion that he has the best programs for black and brown Americans. And they'll have to do so at a time when they are still trying to define their own narratives. That could be tricky, but not impossible, Democratic strategists say.


Six storylines to watch for in tonight's debate

, and

1107d ago / 10:52 PM UTC

Ready for another debate double-header? The lineup tonight includes Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Klobuchar, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, Hickenlooper, Delaney and Williamson. 

Here are six storylines to watch.

Trying to avoid a ‘food fight’: The rules for second Democratic debate

1107d ago / 10:40 PM UTC

In an attempt to avoid a "food fight" in Detroit, CNN, the host of the second Democratic primary debate, announced this month that a candidate "who consistently interrupts" will be penalized by having his or her time reduced.

After New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio nudged himself into getting more screen time during the first night of the NBC-hosted debate in Miami last month, several candidates — most notably Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — tried to do the same thing on the second night of the debate.

The jumping-in got so out of hand on Night 2 that Sen. Kamala Harris of California wound up chiding her fellow candidates. "Hey guys, you know what? America does not want to witness a food fight,” she said. “They want to know how we're going to put food on their table.”


Trump says he’ll be watching debate on Tuesday

1107d ago / 10:32 PM UTC

President Donald Trump told CSPAN ahead of Tuesday night’s debate that he will be watching because he “would like to know who I’m going to be running against.”

During June’s Democratic primary debates, Trump tweeted midway through one with his analysis.

“BORING,” he wrote.

NBA great Charles Barkley is in the CNN spin room

1107d ago / 10:26 PM UTC

File this one under "things we didn't expect tonight."

The cities most excited for the debate are Detroit and ... Helena, Montana?

1107d ago / 10:20 PM UTC

Data from Google Trends shows that the host city of Detroit has the most search interest in tonight's debate.

But Helena, Montana, is a close second, perhaps owing to Steve Bullock, the state's governor and a presidential candidate who will be appearing on the debate stage for the first time.

After that, it's a steep drop off to Charlottesville, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Dead last of the 209 metro areas tracked by Google? Greenwood-Greenville, Mississippi.

The data from Google is based on people searching for "Democratic debate" in the past seven days. Check out the map below to explore what parts of the country are — and aren't — searching for the term.

Trump campaign cuts ad to air during Democratic debates

1107d ago / 10:10 PM UTC

President Trump's campaign says it will air a new television ad on cable news during the second round of the Democratic presidential debates, arguing that Democrats are too liberal for the American electorate. 

The ad begins with footage from the first round of debates in June, where candidates raised their hands to signify their government health care plans would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants. 

It's the latest example of the president trying to paint Democrats as radicals, a strategy being amplified by GOP campaign arms and outside groups. 

The spot will run on CNN, MSNBC and Fox on Tuesday and Wednesday, the two nights of the Democratic Party's latest presidential debates. 

How the candidates are sharpening their attacks after the first debate

1107d ago / 9:54 PM UTC

Former Vice President Joe Biden is done being gracious. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg wants to hit reset. Sen. Amy Klobuchar plans on leaning in to stand out. Sen. Cory Booker is banking on being himself. And Marianne Williamson — she’s sticking with love.

The 20 Democrats vying for the presidency have been prepping for their second bout by fine-tuning their messaging, sharpening their attacks and retooling their policy proposals. Here's how some of the candidates are preparing for this round.

Warren, Sanders expected to defend progressive agendas


1107d ago / 9:53 PM UTC

A fundamental shift in the Democratic Party will be on display on the debate stage lineup tonight, as Warren and Sanders take center stage to argue for their sweeping progressive agendas.

But the debate could become a referendum on some of their proposals, such as free public college and "Medicare for All," that other candidates, like former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, have railed against as "socialism," advisers and strategists say.


Everything you need to know about the second Democratic debate

1107d ago / 9:51 PM UTC

The second of a dozen Democratic primary debates, set for Tuesday and Wednesday in Detroit, will feature a new face and old tensions that have simmered since the first official face-off between the candidates last month.

Here's what you need to know about tonight and tomorrow's debate, including key match-ups, what time and how to watch, and more.