Sparks flew during the ninth Democratic presidential debate, with five veteran debaters and one newcomer facing off on stage on Wednesday.
Wednesday's debate was the first for billionaire former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who took considerable heat from the other candidates on stage over his treatment of women and defense of stop and frisk.
The debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and The Nevada Independent, put pressure on Bernie Sanders to defend his position as a leading candidate in the run-up to Nevada's caucuses on Saturday, while moderates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar — and now Bloomberg — looked to widen their bases, and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren sought a boost after failing to meet early expectations.
Highlights from the Las Vegas Democratic debate:
- Who won the Democratic debate in Las Vegas?
- ANALYSIS: Finally, the fight Democrats have been waiting for.
- Debate rivals hammer Bloomberg over 'stop and frisk' policing in NYC.
- Warren comes out swinging and lands several punches.
Warren takes big swings at her opponents after losing New Hampshire, Iowa
Warren came ready to pick a fight at Wednesday’s debate, a week after she finished fourth in the New Hampshire primary. The primary was a tough loss for the New England politician who once led polls there. That, along with questions from pundits about her campaign's longevity, appears to have enlivened the progressive Democrat, who took more than a few swipes at her opponents.
So far she has taken particular aim at Bloomberg for his past comments about women and for having female employees sign nondisclosure agreements, but she hasn’t stopped there. Known as the candidate with a plan for seemingly everything, Warren provided policy specifics on her own health care plan, while pointing to what she deemed to be lackluster offerings of her opponents.
It remains to be seen if it’s too little too late for Warren ahead of Nevada where she has dipped in the polls and early voting has already started or if her big swings will push her to a big win in the Silver State’s caucuses on Saturday.
Warren makes a splash on Twitter
Warren is on the warpath — and Twitter is taking notice. She’s had the most tweets that mention her name, with Bloomberg in second.
Warren camp touts mid-debate fundraising
Global warming cools the debate
Maybe it was the commercial break, but a question about what the candidates would do to address climate change has yielded a less contentious stretch. Biden, Bloomberg, Warren, Klobuchar and Sanders all tout their plans.
Bloomberg gets what might be his first applause line by saying on Day 1 as president he would rejoin the Paris Agreement.
Debate watch Houston: Sanders supporters welcome the criticism
HOUSTON — Manny Lara, 24, an IT specialist, batted his hand at the screen and scoffed as Buttigieg launched yet another attack against Sanders, this time over his refusal to release his complete medical records.
“This is just gross,” said Lara, a Sanders supporter who is among more than 50 people watching the debate from the patio of a popular Houston bar.
“No man, this is good,” Jared Cress, Lara’s friend and co-worker, said. “They’re going after Bernie cause they know what’s up. They’re afraid.”
Sanders supporters here have booed or laughed with each of the attacks launched against their candidate tonight. This, said Cress, 25, is the strongest indication yet that — unlike in 2016 — their guy is the one to beat.
“Let them attack him,” Cress said. “It means he’s winning.”
Klobuchar-Buttigieg feud comes to Mexico
Buttigieg, who is fluent in Spanish, criticized Amy Klobuchar for being unable to name Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a Telemundo interview last week. Klobuchar said her slip was momentary forgetfulness that doesn’t reflect what she knows about Mexico.
She added greetings to Mexico’s president, stumbling some as she tried to pronounce López. But Buttigieg responded that it’s something she should know as a member of a committee that oversees trade — Klobuchar serves on the Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee. Klobuchar wouldn’t give, asking Buttigieg, “are you trying to say that I’m dumb?”
Buttigieg previously had his own troubles with discussions on Mexico when he said last November that he’d be willing to send troops into Mexico to combat gang and drug violence.
The two Midwesterners have developed something of a rivalry in recent debates.
Warren then cut in to defend Klobuchar by saying that "everybody on this stage" forgets a name sometimes.
Fact check: Biden is right, Bloomberg opposed Obamacare in 2010
"The mayor said, when we passed it, the signature piece of this administration, 'It's a disgrace.' They're the exact words. 'It was a disgrace.' Look it up, check it out. 'It was a disgrace,'" Biden said.
Bloomberg did in fact call the Affordable Care Act a "disgrace" in 2010, and there's video — Biden just put it in an online ad. The former New York City mayor's health care plan includes a proposal to "build on the ACA to achieve universal health coverage."
Warren's redlining attack reflects long history of defending consumers
Warren described herself as a champion of lending equity and the opposite of Bloomberg during Wednesday night’s debate.
"When Mayor Bloomberg was busy blaming African Americans and Latinos for the housing crash of 2008, I was right here in Las Vegas, just a few blocks down the street holding hearings… Banks…were taking away homes from millions of families," she said, referencing Bloomberg's past comments on redlining.
Warren first came to national prominence while a law professor at Harvard University whose research indicated before the Great Recession that American households were drowning in unsustainable levels of debt thanks to reckless lending practices. Lending to low-income borrowers and Americans of color at the highest interest rates, regardless of credit scores or incomes, had become a go-to way for major banks and Wall Street institutions to boost profits, Warren has said. These lending practices also pushed disproportionate shares of black and Latino homeowners into foreclosure, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.
Warren’s financial research later prompted her to advocate for, and later help lead, a new federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency was created by the Obama administration in 2010. It’s oversight and regulatory powers have since been curbed by the Trump administration.
Klobuchar on how she handled police-involved shootings as prosecutor
Fact check: Why did Bloomberg's administration cut back on stop-and-frisk?
Stop-and-frisk “got out of control. And when we discovered, I discovered, that we were doing many, many, too many stop-and-frisks, we cut 95 percent of it out,” Bloomberg claimed Wednesday night.
This is false and misleading. Bloomberg championed the expansion of the policing strategy stop-and-frisk during his administration, it didn't happen without his awareness. The practice was scaled back significantly thanks to a 2013 court order declaring the policy unconstitutional, not Bloomberg’s change of heart.
Bloomberg, in his three terms as New York City mayor, expanded and championed stop-and-frisk — the strategy that gave police the authority to detain people suspected of committing a crime and lead to a practice of stopping mostly black and Hispanic men — right up until days before announcing he was running for president, according to a comprehensive timeline reported by The New York Times.
It's still anybody's debate
When it comes to talking time, it's still anybody's debate.
Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren kicked off the debate with the most time spent speaking, with a solid margin over the other candidates on stage. Deeper into the night, the hierarchy turned fuzzy as Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Mike Bloomberg took more microphone time.
Follow along with our debate-night candidate talking time tracker here.