The top 5 biggest moments from last night’s Democratic debate
As you may know, more than 20 Democratic candidates are currently vying to to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. With the first round of Democratic debates in the books, the candidates are ramping up their efforts to stand out in the crowded field. July 30th marked the first night of the second Democratic presidential debates, giving 10 competitors a chance to shine on national TV.
Among those gathered onstage during the CNN-hosted event, the progressive-moderate split was evident. Trailblazing Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders appeared in their first debate together, and they were frequently at odds with more middle-of-the-road candidates. The presidential hopefuls sparred over healthcare, gun control, immigration reform, and more in a show that lasted nearly two and a half hours. Here are some of the night’s most memorable moments.
1 Sanders telling Tim Ryan “I wrote the damn bill!”
Ohio Representative Tim Ryan questioned whether Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal would provide benefits that were as good as what many union members have under their current health care plans.
"It will be better because Medicare for All is comprehensive," Sanders said. "It covers all health care needs. For senior citizens, it will finally include dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses."
Ryan interjected with, “You don’t know that, Bernie,” and the Vermont senator was quick to shut him down.
"I do know it. I wrote the damn bill," he said, to laughs and cheers in the audience.
2 When the candidates talked decriminalizing illegal immigration.
Immigration reform is a huge concern for the candidates—especially given the continued separation of families at the border. And during last night’s debate, the 10 participants were divided about how they would deal with it. According to NBC’s debate transcript, Sanders and Warren suggested decriminalizing crossing the border illegally.
"One way to fix it is to decriminalize. That’s the whole point," Warren said. "What we’re looking for here is a way to take away the tool that Donald Trump has used to break up families."
Others, like former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke, took a more moderate stance. O’Rourke said that as president he would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but he also said that crossing the border illegally would still be a crime except in the cases of asylum-seekers and children.
"Then I expect that people who come here follow our laws, and we reserve the right to criminally prosecute them if they do not," O'Rourke said.
3 Warren’s savage comeback to John Delaney.
Former Maryland Representative John Delaney argued that in order to win the election, the Democratic party should propose “real solutions.” He took shots at progressive plans from candidates like Warren and Sanders, describing them as “fairy tale economics.” Warren’s swift retort became one of the highlights of the debate.
"You know, I don't understand why anybody goes to the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for," she said, casting some side-eye in Delaney's direction.
4 When Marianne Williamson shocked the audience with her answer on reparations.
Many consider Williamson a controversial candidate. As Out magazine reports, some of Williamson’s critics have accused her of teaching that positive thinking can cure diseases. But she gave a stand-out performance in last night’s Democratic debate, especially when the topic of reparations came up. Williamson proposed paying $500 billion in reparations to the black community, which she described as “payment of a debt that is owed.”
"We need to recognize, when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with," she said. "That great injustice has had to do with the fact that there was 250 years of slavery followed by another hundred years of domestic terrorism."
5 When Buttigieg used his age to call for an end to gun violence.
As The New York Times notes, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor has proposed universal background checks for gun purchases and wants to implement a gun licensing program. The 37-year-old is also the youngest 2020 presidential candidate, and, as he mentioned in last night’s debate, he was in high school when the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School took place.
"I was part of the first generation that saw routine school shootings," Buttigieg said. "We have now produced the second school shooting generation in this country. We dare not allow there to be a third."
These candidates have given us a lot to think about, but there’s still more to come. Catch the second night of the July Democratic debate tonight, July 31st at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.