The final Democratic presidential debate before the Feb. 11 first-in-the-nation primary began at 8 p.m. Friday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The seven candidates are former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 38; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 78; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), 70; former Vice President Joe Biden, 78; former tech executive Andrew Yang, 45; businessman Tom Steyer, 62; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), 59.
Here were some key moments in the debate:
Sanders Defends Vote Against USMCA
Sanders said he wouldnt apologize for voting against the U.S.–Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
Sanders announced during the last debate that he wouldnt support the agreement, known as USMCA, because it didnt address climate change.
“We could do much better than a Trump-led trade deal. This deal, and I think the proponents of it would acknowledge, will result in the continuation of the loss of hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs as a result of outsourcing,” he said
Speaking on Feb. 7, Sanders said he voted no because the deal didnt mention climate change and because he believes it will continue the export of jobs from the United States.
Klobuchar, who voted yes, said she did so “because there were some major improvements in this trade agreement,” including improvements related to labor inspections and pharmaceuticals.
Not having a trade agreement with the United States and Canada puts the United States at a disadvantage against China, Klobuchar said.
Warren said she voted yes because the deal made things “somewhat better” for farmers and workers.
She said shes working on a better trade deal on climate.
The trade deal passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in late 2019. The GOP-held Senate passed the deal last month, and Trump signed the deal on Jan. 29.
Candidates Criticize Bloomberg
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloombergs Twitter account was active on Friday night as the billionaire, 77, missed another debate. Candidates were invited by a moderator to weigh in on Bloombergs candidacy, and everyone heard from criticized the billionaire.
“I dont [think] anyone ought to be able to buy their way into a nomination or [for] president of the United States,” Warren said.
“I cant stand the big money in politics,” Klobuchar added.
Bloomberg or the person who was tweeting, meanwhile, championed the former mayors stance on healthcare, gun restrictions, and his chances against President Trump.
“Everyone on the stage tonight will argue about whos most electable. If any one of them is the nominee, Ill be in their corner. But there should be no debating which one of us can actually beat Trump. Because Ive beaten him before—and I will beat him again,” one tweet said.
Another said that Democrats “need to fight for accessible and affordable health care for every American without mortgaging our future,” in an apparent critique of the Medicare for All proposals put forth by some candidates, which would cost trillions of dollars.
Because he is self-funding his campaign, Bloomberg did not meet the donor threshold set by the Democratic National Committee. Bloomberg could qualify for the next debate after the committee eliminated the threshold.
Buttigieg Reiterates Call for Supreme Court Reform
Buttigieg reiterated a proposal to expand the size of the Supreme Court, claiming such a move would help depoliticize the nations highest court.
“We cannot allow the Supreme Court to continue to become one more political battlefield, as we are seeing today. And the time has come for us to think bigger,” he said.
Buttigieg has called for adding six justices to the current nine and allow Democrats and Republicans to each name five appointees, while those 10 justices would choose another five.
Biden has called any expansion of the court a non-starter.
“I agree with Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Biden said during the debate, referring to the eldest justice on the court.
Ginsburg has dismissed proposals to change the courts size or the length of time a justice serves.
If rules are changed, Biden argued, the court would “lose its legitimacy.” Instead, he said Democrats need to flip the Senate in November, noting that senators approve the justices nominated by President Donald Trump.
Several candidates said they wouldnt nominate justices who dont agree with Roe v. Wade, a ruling which said abortion was a constitutional right.
Sanders, who has suggested rotating justices to and from the Supreme Court, said he would use abortion as a litmus test, as did Biden.
Warren Calls for Pulling Troops From Afghanistan
Warren said she would, if elected, remove troops from Afghanistan.
“Nobody sees a solution to this war. Nobody can describe what winning looks like. All they can describe is endless war,” she said.
Warren said she was not willing to leave troops there, questioning what the years of war have brought.
“We sent our troops in, and they did our best. They were there for us, and we need to be there for them. And that means not send[ing] our troops to do work that cannot be solved militarily,” Warren said.
Sanders, meanwhile, brought up Bidens Senate 2002 vote supporting the Iraq War.
“If I might, like Joe and others, I also heard the arguments in terms of the war in Iraq from [George W.] Bush, from [Dick] Cheney, from John Bolton, from the whole administration. I listened very carefully,” said Sanders, who was also in office at the time.
“And I concluded that they were lying through their teeth. And I not only voted against that war, but I helped lead the opposition.”
Biden warned against pulling troops out of Afghanistan entirely. Such actions, he said, can lead to regional instability.
Biden recalled the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, saying troops were “ashamed” to leave while the Kurds asked Americans to stay. Biden was responding to Warren.
Candidates Oppose Soleimani Strike
Several presidential candidates said the President Donald Trump-ordered strike that took out Iranian General Qassem Soleimani either was or may not have been a good idea.
“It depends on the circumstances. It depends on what the different effects would be,” Buttigieg said.
If we learned nothing else from the war in Iraq, its that taking out a bad guy is not a good idea if you do not know what you are doing.”
Sanders and Biden both said they would not have ordered the strike.
“The reason I wouldnt have ordered the strike: theres no evidence yet of imminent threat that was going to come from him,” Biden said.
Soleimani was commander of Irans Quds Force, which the United States designates as a terrorist group. U.S. officials say he was responsible for thousands of American deaths or injuries.
Opposition to the strike arose shortly after it was announced in December 2019 and prompted Congress to introduce several bills aimed at reducing Trumps power to take military action against Iran.
Standing Applause for Vindman
Biden urged people in the audience to give a standing applause for Alexander Vindman, a military veteran who was on the National Security Council before he was apparently removed on Friday.
Vindman testified against President Donald Trump during the impeachment inquiry.
“Stand up!” Biden told the audience. The audience complied, giving Vindman a standing ovation.
Trump “should be pinning a medal on Vindman and not Rush Limbaugh,” Biden said.
Limbaugh, the longtime conservative radio host, was recently diagnosed with cancer. He attended the State of the Union speech on Tuesday, where Trump surprised him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The audience also applauded Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted for one article of impeachment against Trump. Every other GOP senator voted against both articles.
Battle Over Medicare for All Erupts
Candidates battled over the Medicare for All proposals on stage, with Klobuchar and Biden taking stances against the proposals and Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg saying theyre for it.
Klobuchar said Medicare for All would kick 149 million Americans off of their health care, and she advocated for a nonprofit, public option that builds on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Biden said that Sanders wrote the Medicare for All bill but wont say how much it would cost. “It will cost more than the entire federal budget we spend now. The idea middle-class taxes arent going to go up is just crazy,” Biden said.
Sanders claimed that his plan, which would involve the government taking over the entire healthcare sector, would actually drive healthcare prices down. Biden argued that that wasnt true. Sanders later wondered why people have been talking for healthcare so long.
“If you want real change in healthcare, at the end of the day, youre going to have to take on the insurance companies … and the drug companies and their price-fixing,” he saiRead More – Source