The second round of 12 Democratic primary debates at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan has concluded. Night two featured the remaining 10 candidates not featured in night one: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Gov. Jay Inslee, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Sen. Michael Bennet.
Here are a few key moments from the second night:
Healthcare: Joe Biden vs. Kamala Harris
Biden was the first to take the stage at the debate with Harris joining him shortly after. The two shook hands before Biden asked Harris to “go easy” on him. Harris confronted Biden in the first debate over his past opposition to the practice of busing. She continued to challenge the former vice president, specifically when talking about her recently unveiled “Medicare for all” health care plan. “Under our plan we will ensure that everyone has access to health care,” Harris said. “Your plan by contrast leaves out almost 10 million Americans…be reflective and understand that the people of America want access to health care and do not want costs to be their barrier to getting it.” Biden fired back by highlighting the cost of Harris’s plan and the impact it would have on middle-class taxpayers. “The cost of doing nothing is far too expensive,” Harris responded. “We are now paying $3 trillion a year for health care in America. Over the next 10 years, it’s probably going to be $6 trillion. We must act.”
Attacks against Biden
Biden came under attack by nearly every Democrat who shared the stage with him. He received 21 minutes of speaking time, which was considerably more than the other candidates and appeared ready to fend off the attacks.
De Blasio interrupted with “FIRE PANTALEO” chants
Booker’s opening statement was interrupted by protesters chanting “Fire Pantaleo,” which was aimed at de Blasio regarding officer Daniel Pantaleo who was not fired for murdering Eric Garner.
In de Blasio’s opening statements, he started disagreeing with earlier statements from Biden and Harris saying “We will put working people first.” He also accused Biden of not answering questions on deportations that took place under the Obama administration. “You were vice president of the United States. I didn’t hear whether you tried to stop them or not, using your power, your influence in the White House,” de Blasio said. “Did you think it was a good idea or did you think it was something that needed to be stopped?” Biden defended the former president, reminding de Blasio that President Barack Obama “talked about a comprehensive plan which he lay before the Congress saying that we should find a pathway to citizenship for people.”
Harris also under attack
Gabbard took on Harris’ record as a prosecutor accused Harris of marijuana hypocrisy. Harris has faced major backlash for a 2010 scandal that led a judge to throw out more than 1,000 drug-related cases because of her office’s failure to disclose evidence to defendants.
“There are too many examples to cite, but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said. “She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California, and she fought to keep the tax bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.”
Harris said she worked to reform the system. “I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches, or be in a legislative body and give speeches on a floor, but actually do the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform,” she said.
Flint remains a talking point
With the debate being in Michigan, it only makes sense for Flint to be brought up during the debate. Flint, Michigan has been a talking point for both nights, highlighting the city’s water crisis while discussing issues related to infrastructure, environmental justice and racism.
De Blasio said there should be a federal mandate to replace lead in buildings, schools and public housing. Castro mentioned his plan to invest $50 billion to remove lead pipes across the country. When asked would she do as president to prevent another situation like Flint’s, Klobuchar introduced a similar proposal to Castro’s and invest $1 trillion in infrastructure. Gabbard said people of Flint are being left behind because the federal government is spending $4 billion per month on the war in Afghanistan.
Marianne Williamson got one of the biggest audience reactions when she addressed how most non-white communities like Flint experience more issues with water and pollution. “We need to say it like it is, it’s bigger than Flint. It’s all over this country. It’s particularly people of color. It’s particularly people who do not have the money to fight back, and if the Democrats don’t start saying it, then why would those people feel they’re there for us, and if those people don’t feel it, they won’t vote for us and Donald Trump will win,” she said.
Biden tells viewers to visit a phone number
Joe..30330….com ? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/0xX62pID1N
— John Pence (@jepence) August 1, 2019
The third of 12 Democratic primary debates will be held on September 12-13, 2019. Candidates will need to have 130,000 unique donors by August 28 and register at least 2 percent support in four national or early state polls—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada. Seven candidates have already met both qualifications and are guaranteed a spot on stage. Those candidates are Biden, Booker, Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.