Second US Democratic debate night one: What did candidates say?

Second US Democratic debate night one: What did candidates say?

The little-known 2020 United States presidential candidates came out swinging on Tuesday, hoping to make a breakthrough on the first night of the second Democratic debate.

“We have a choice: We can go down the road that Senator [Bernie] Sanders and Senator [Elizabeth] Warren want to take us, which is with bad policies like ‘Medicare for all’, free everything and impossible promises,” former Representative John Delaney said.

“It will turn off independent voters and get Trump re-elected,” he added.

Sanders responded by saying: “You’re wrong.”

Montana Governor Steve Bullock also took aim at the progressive candidates on the stage, saying working people “can’t wait for a revolution”.

“Their problems are here and now,” he said.

But Warren hit back.

“We’re not going to solve the urgent problems we face with small ideas and spinelessness,” Warren charged, calling for “a Democratic Party of big structural change.”

The first votes in the Democratic primary will not be cast for six more months, yet there is an increasing sense of urgency for many candidates who are fighting for survival. 

More than a dozen could be blocked from the next round of debates altogether – and effectively pushed out of the race – if they fail to reach new polling and fundraising thresholds implemented by the Democratic National Committee.

That meant Tuesday saw more attacks than the first debate, as Democrats tried to highlight their points of divergence especially on issues including immigration and healthcare.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Representative Tim Ryan, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former US Representative Beto O’Rourke, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and author Marianne Williamson joined Sanders, Warren, Delany and Bullock on stage on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, another 10 candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris, will face-off.

After night one, here is what the first 10 candidates said on the major issues.


Tuesday night started off with lengthy and heated exchanges over healthcare, with centrists taking jabs at Warren and Sanders’s focus on “Medicare for all”. 

Sanders’s plan to create a free, universal healthcare system, known as “Medicare for all”, has become a litmus test issue for liberal candidates, who have embraced the plan that would transform the current healthcare system despite the political and practical risks. Medicare for all would abandon the private insurance market completely in favour of a taxpayer-funded system that would cover all Americans.

In targeting Medicare for all, the more moderate candidates consistently sought to undermine the signature domestic policy proposal of the top two progressives on the stage, Sanders and Warren. They variously derided Medicare for all as too costly, ineffective and a near-certain way to give Republicans the evidence they needed that Democrats supported socialism.

The New England senators did not back down. They are known for their unapologetic embrace of aggressive plans to overhaul healthcare, higher education, childcare and the economy – ambitious and expensive steps that may be popular among many Democrats but give Trump and his Republican allies ample opportunity to cast all Democrats as extreme.

“I don’t understand why anybody goes to all 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,” Warren said in a critique of her detractors.

Democratic debate

US Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, former US Representative Beto O’Rourke and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper debate on the first night of the second 2020 Democratic US presidential debate [Lucas Jackson/Reuters]


The candidates also differed on immigration policy – disagreeing on whether irregular border crossings should be decriminalised.

“You don’t have to decriminalise everything,” Bullock said. “What you have to do is to have a president in there with the judgment and the decency to treat someone that comes to the border like one of our own.”

Warren disagreed, saying: “We need to expand legal immigration, we need to create a path for citizenship not just for dreamers but for grandmas and for people who have been working here in the farms and for students who have overstayed their visas.”

“You are playing into Donald Trump’s hands,” Bullock said.


After weeks of racist and racially charged comments coming from the White House, race has become a focal point of the 2020 campaigns. 

Pointing to water problems in communities like Flint, Michigan, Williamson said poor, minority areas fall victim to a “collectivised hatred” that only deepens their problems.

Hickenlooper said Democrats must show they can “delegate an urban agenda” for substantive changes in schools and affordable housing.

Asked how she would combat white supremacy, Warren said she would call it out as “domestic terrorism”, blaming Trump for racially unequal policies in economics and education.

Tuesday’s debate was the first since Trump used racist language to attack four Democratic congresswomen of colour, telling them to “go back” to their countries even though all four are US citizens. He also called the majority-African American city of Baltimore a “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess”.

Democratic debate

Democratic 2020 US presidential candidates Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, former US Representative John Delaney and Montana Governor Steve Bullock on the first night of the second 2020 Democratic US presidential debate [Lucas Jackson/Reuters]

Buttigieg said that as mayor of the diverse town of South Bend, Indiana, “the racial divide lives within me”.

Buttigieg, who is white, said he did not become mayor “to end racism”, but he had worked on issues of race, crime and poverty affecting communities of colour.

Buttigieg has been criticised for his handling of a police-involved shooting that took him off the campaign trail last month. He came home to a African American community that was frustrated and outraged nearly five years after the Black Lives Matter movement was born amid increased awareness about the shootings of unarmed African American men by police.


Trump has been eager to paint the entire Democratic field as socialists, seeking to make any eventual nominee untenable to voters by arguing that Democrats want to raise taxes, open the US borders and take away private healthcare. 

The dispute between the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic Party highlighted the central question of the nominating contest: Which candidate in the field of more than two dozen would be best positioned to beat Trump next year?

Bullock criticised his fellow candidates for being too liberal in the opening round of debates last month in Miami, Florida.

“Watching that last debate, folks seemed more concerned about scoring points or outdoing each other with wish-list economics than making sure Americans know we hear their voices and will help their lives,” Bullock said.

Progressives argued their policies would excite voters and allow them to draw a distinct contrast to Trump.

Buttigieg called on his party to stop the infighting.

“It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say,” Buttigieg declared. “It’s true that if we embrace a far-left agenda, they’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. So let’s just stand up for the right policy, go out there and defend it.”

Foreign policy

As in most debates, foreign policy issues got little attention, but candidates on Tuesday did discuss Afghanistan and China.

Sanders said he would work as president to strengthen the US’s standing with the United Nations and focus on diplomacy, not military action. 

Sanders was asked during Tuesday’s debate what differentiates his aversion to the global US military presence from Trump’s opposition to being “policeman of the world”. Sanders responded that Trump is “a pathological liar”. 

Sanders’s stance on diplomacy was echoed by former Governor Hickenlooper. 

Buttigieg pledged to withdraw from Afghanistan – where he served – by the end of his first year in the White House.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor also advocated for a three-year sunset provision for authorisations of the use of military force, noting that those deployed to Afghanistan will soon be too young to have been alive during the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Candidates sparred over how to approach China and criticised the Trump administration’s repeated use of tariffs to try to win concessions in trade agreements.

Hickenlooper said the US needed a new approach to China instead of tariffs. “Trade wars are for losers,” he said. “Let’s negotiate (a) better trade deal but you are not going to win against China in a trade war when they’ve got 25 percenr of our total debt.”

Ryan said the US needs “a targeted response against China but you know how you beat them? You out-compete them. We’ve got to fill these factories in Detroit, in Youngstown that used to make cars and steel.”

O’Rourke said the Trump tariffs “are a huge mistake. They constitute the largest tax increase on the American consumer, hitting the American consumer and working poor especially hard … When have we ever gone to war – including a trade war – with our allies and friends and partners?”

Bullock said using tariffs to win trade deals did not make sense – for “farmers anywhere or the manufacturers here in Detroit.” 

Who’s on for night two? 

On Wednesday, Senators Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Kristen Gillibrand and Kamala Harris, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro and entrepreneur Andrew Yang will face-off.


  1. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you’ve put in writing this website. I am hoping the same high-grade web site post from you in the upcoming as well. Actually your creative writing skills has encouraged me to get my own website now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a great example of it.

  2. … [Trackback]

    […] Here you will find 80240 more Information on that Topic: […]

  3. I’ve been browsing on-line more than 3 hours nowadays, but I by no means found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is lovely worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content material as you did, the net will probably be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  4. Nice blog here! Also your site loads up fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  5. hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this site, since I experienced to reload the site a lot of times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but slow loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and could damage your high quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective exciting content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..

  6. I have been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this website. Reading this info So i’m happy to convey that I have a very good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make certain to don’t forget this web site and give it a glance on a constant basis.

  7. What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve found It absolutely helpful and it has helped me out loads. I hope to contribute & aid other users like its helped me. Good job.

  8. With everything that appears to be building within this specific subject matter, all your opinions are relatively radical. Nonetheless, I appologize, but I do not subscribe to your whole strategy, all be it exhilarating none the less. It would seem to everyone that your commentary are actually not totally rationalized and in fact you are generally your self not even entirely convinced of your assertion. In any event I did enjoy reading it.

  9. mcV5QI I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You ave made my day! Thx again

  10. I believe that is among the so much important information for me. And i am satisfied studying your article. However want to observation on few general issues, The site taste is wonderful, the articles is in reality great : D. Good activity, cheers

  11. I’m not sure why but this blog is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.|

  12. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I came across this during my search for something concerning this.|

  13. certainly like your web site however you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome to inform the truth then again I’ll surely come back again.|

  14. Hi there! This post could not be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I will send this information to him. Pretty sure he’ll have a very good read. I appreciate you for sharing!|

  15. My family all the time say that I am wasting my time here at net, except I know I am getting know-how daily by reading such nice articles or reviews.|

  16. What’s up, this weekend is fastidious in support of me, for the reason that this moment i am reading this wonderful educational paragraph here at my home.|

  17. Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this blog and I’m inspired! Extremely helpful info specially the closing phase 🙂 I deal with such information a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck. |

  18. Definitely consider that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be at the web the simplest thing to bear in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed at the same time as people consider issues that they plainly don’t recognise about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and outlined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thank you|

  19. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later on. Cheers|

  20. I’ll right away seize your rss as I can’t in finding your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please permit me recognise in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.|

  21. Appreciating the dedication you put into your website and in depth information you offer. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.|

  22. Thanks , I have recently been searching for information about this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I have discovered till now. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure concerning the supply?|

  23. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt for something concerning this.|

  24. I used to be recommended this web site by my cousin. I am not certain whether this submit is written by way of him as no one else realize such special about my difficulty. You’re amazing! Thank you!|

  25. I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays.|

  26. Greetings from Idaho! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the knowledge you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, amazing blog!

  27. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!|

  28. I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else experiencing problems with your website. It appears as if some of the text in your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This could be a issue with my browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Thanks|


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here