Candidates are falling like dominoes in the 2020 presidential race, and only six qualified for Tuesday night’s seventh Democratic presidential debate.
The last before the Iowa caucus on February 3, this debate will be the smallest one so far — and the least diverse, with Sen. Cory Booker recently dropping out and neither Andrew Yang nor Rep. Tulsi Gabbard qualifying. (Anyone up for starting #DebateSoWhite?) This is sure to stir up questions about race and representation, and who should and should not be on the stage. Another conflict to watch for? On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a statement confirming reports that in a December 2018 meeting, Sen. Bernie Sanders told her a woman could not win the 2020 election. Will they keep their pledge not to go after each other?
The two-hour debate, co-hosted by CNN and The Des Moines Register, is taking place at Drake University in Des Moines and is moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Abby Phillip, and the Register‘s Brianne Pfannenstiel. The participating candidates are Joe Biden, Sanders, Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and billionaire Tom Steyer. Ahead, we track all the key moments you need to know about.
Amy Klobuchar has the receipts when it comes to foreign policy.
Pulling no surprise punches, the first question (and first half-hour) of the night was about Iran and the candidates’ stances on getting into another possible war. While many candidates gave vague anti-war answers about taking the troops out of the Middle East and lowering our defense budgets, Klobuchar chimed in with actual numbers. Not only did Klobuchar say she’d get the U.S. back into the Iranian nuclear agreement, which she helped to shape, she also said she would keep troops there.
.@amyklobuchar never met a question she can’t answer succinctly and with the right tone and cadence.
— adrienneelrod (@adrienneelrod) January 15, 2020
Between Klobuchar’s, err, fine tweezing job, to Buttigieg’s high arch, it seems that the candidates’ eyebrows are taking a front seat at this debate. And we absolutely cannot look away, #SorryNotSorry.
Perhaps politics has rotted my brain, but it feels like everyone’s eyebrows are having a weird night #DemDebate
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 15, 2020
Bernie Sanders is low-key on a roll tonight.
Sanders’ strongest moments were in the arguments about trade as well as war. When asked about trade, he passionately said that NAFTA and PNTR were written to increase the profits of multinational companies, prioritizing America’s GDP but ultimately costing Americans themselves greatly. “We need corporate responsibility here,” Sanders said. Bridging mass trade deals to something even bigger, Sanders was one of the first on stage to also highlight the ways that labor, trade, and climate change are connected. Also important: Sanders was the only candidate on stage to vote against moving forward with Iran sanctions and save the nuclear deal in 2017.
Elizabeth Warren takes the classy route — and says women are the winners.
When the inevitable questioning surrounding the recent beef between Sanders and Warren arrived, Warren brought the hammer down hard. But, instead of accusing Bernie of lying (“I am not here to try to fight with Bernie”), she used this moment to remind everyone of the power of women in politics. “Can a woman beat Donald Trump?” Warren said, responding to the question saying, “The men on this stage have collectively lost 10 elections. The only ones on this stage who have won are the women.” So who run the world again?
It’s no wonder President Elizabeth Warren started trending shortly after. She is on fire tonight.
Amy Klobuchar jumps on the bandwagon, talking about her wins.
After Warren’s impassioned reminder of collective wins between her and Klobuchar — the only women on the stage — Klobuchar reminded us exactly what women can do in office. “You don’t have to be the tallest person in the room, you don’t have to be the skinniest person in the room, you don’t have to be the loudest person — you have to be confident.” Klobuchar’s used this moment to call out all of the women in politics, local and national, who have recently unseated male incumbents — including herself. “I have won every race, every place, every time,” she said. And, in case you forgot who she is, “Every person that I have beaten have gotten out of politics for good.”
Warren doubles down on childcare for all.
Warren says that childcare costs, as they exist right now, are not working, and she knows this first-hand. “I remember when I was a young mom, I had two little kids and my first university teaching job, but it was childcare that almost brought me down. I think about how many women of my generation got knocked off the track and never got back on.” Warren concluded that childcare costs don’t work for working families and mothers, especially brown and Black ones. She went on to stress that universal healthcare as a right would be an investment in parents, children, teachers, and our economy.
Here’s your daily reminder that childcare is an issue of reproductive freedom and justice. #DemDebate
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) January 15, 2020
Amy Klobuchar speaks directly to the sandwich generation.
🌈 Amy Klobuchar is right that unless we address the cost of long term care ASAP a lot of us are going to go bankrupt taking care of our parents 🌈
— Erin 🔮 Ryan (@morninggloria) January 15, 2020
Tom Steyer has officially come out to play.
As the big billionaire on stage, Steyer was asked if his kids should receive free education from programs like the ones Warren and Sanders have proposed. Plain and simple, Steyer answered “…no,” and that he proposed a wealth tax a year and a half ago. Steyer doubled down saying that Black, brown, and low-income communities are the ones that need free education more than anyone, in perhaps his peak moment of the night.
But, then again, there’s this everlasting reminder of who Tom Steyer is…
Who is the theoretical billionaire who’s itching to send his kid to the state school? I never understand this. He’s buying a new campus for Yale to get Dylan Jr into the freshman class
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 15, 2020
And then, there was his refusal to blink.
Tom Steyer still trying to make eye contact with me two hours later and I’ve never felt more like an INTJ. #DemDebate
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) January 15, 2020
Tom Steyer: I don’t care what your question is, I’m here to seduce the nation by looking it right in the eye #DemDebate
— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) January 15, 2020
Pete Buttigieg’s standing with Black voters gets called into question again.
In perhaps one of the most iconic and least boring moments of the debate, CNN correspondent Abby Phillip called out Buttigieg’s lack of support from Black voters despite his insistence that he has it. “You’ve been campaigning for a year now. Is it possible that Black voters have gotten to know you and have chosen another candidate?” Phillip asked.
The candidate responded, “The Black people who know me best support me.” He was met with laughter from the nosebleed seats.
Closing out a rather, um, safe debate night, candidates gave bold closing statements to cap out the first 2020 debate: Klobuchar flexed on her common-sense candidacy, Steyer referred to Americans as his teammates, Sanders gave the 1% his daily shoutout, but Warren shook up the crowd by bringing up all of the subjects that weren’t addressed: disability, gun violence, poverty, trans women of color, climate change’s effect on black and brown communities, and mental illness. Warren proclaimed that she would be the next president of the United States, rounding out a very strong night for her, and said, “I see this as our moment in history when no one is left on the sidelines.”
What we didn’t talk about that @ewarren brings up:
Trans women/trans women of color
— Melody Hampton (she/her) (@MelodyyHampton) January 15, 2020
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