Takeaways from July Detroit event
WASHINGTON – It was round two of debates and Democrats vying for the White House came out swinging — mostly at the front-runners on stage.
In their second chance to make their case in front of a nationally televised audience, 10 Democrats running for president put on display the stark divides among those hoping for the party’s nomination for the 2020 race.
During Night One of the Democratic Debate in Detriot, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two of the frontrunners in the race who have offered a number of progressive ideas throughout their campaign, were the primary targets of moderates on the stage.
On Wednesday, 10 more Democrats will make their case for the White House. It will be the last debate before September when higher debate qualifying standards kick in.
Here are the moments that stood out Tuesday night.
1. Warren’s takedown of Delaney
Throughout most of the debate, former Rep. John Delaney sought to cast Sens. Warren and Sanders as extreme on their policy stances.
He and other moderates on the stage attacked ideas on healthcare and immigration, underscoring a major theme of the night: Whether the party should pursue big ideas that appeal to progressives, or more incremental changes that appeal to moderates.
More: John Delaney’s Wikipedia vandalized to say he died at the Democratic debate
During one exchange, Delaney blasted progressives for proposing ideas that are “dead on arrival” or that “will never happen.” He called the policies “fairy tale economics.”
Warren fired back.
“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,” she said to applause. “I don’t get it.”
2. ‘A bunch of crazy socialists’
During a spirited debate about the future of healthcare in America, Democrats vying for the White House put on display just how different their ideas are to tackle the issue.
The candidates were torn over Medicare For All, a policy in which the government would run the program, or improving on the current private-based system created by former President Barack Obama.
Delaney attacked several of the candidates on stage, including Warren, explaining that Medicare For All was extreme and would take away options, which isn’t the Democratic way. He and several of the moderate candidates on the stage said they worried the healthcare policy was giving Republicans another talking point.
Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg suggested Democrats should stop worrying about criticism from Republicans and President Donald Trump on whatever policy path the ultimate nominee chooses.
“It’s time to stop worrying what the Republicans will say,” Buttigieg argued.
If they adopt a progressive agenda, Buttigieg said, Republican will label the party “crazy socialists,” a characterization that Trump has repeatedly used against Democrats. If they move to the center, he said, “they’re gonna say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists.”
“Let’s just stand up for the right policy and go out there and defend it,” he said.
3. Williamson on the ‘dark psychic force’
Author and activist Marianne Williamson, who has made racial reconciliation a cornerstone of her campaign, said the water crisis in Flint, Mich. was “deeper than Flint.”
Flint’s water crisis began in 2014 after a change in water supply and treatment resulted in the lead contamination of the city’s water. Flint is a majority African-American city.
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON SPEAKS UP: ‘I hope they’ll come back to me next time’: Marianne Williamson speaks up during the debate
“Flint is just the tip of the iceberg,” Williamson said, turning to the broader issue of racial inequalities in American society. She said the problem in Flint would not have happened in Grosse Pointe, an affluent, majority-white suburb of Detroit where Williamson raised her daughter.
“If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days,” she continued.
Williamson argued the Democrats needed to start talking about deeper issues of race. “If the Democrats don’t start saying it, why would those people vote for us,” she said, referring to African American voters.
Throughout a good portion of the debate, Williamson was the top trending candidate on Twitter despite her relative lack of speaking time.
4. Sanders: ‘I wrote the damn bill’
During a debate over healthcare, Sanders said his Medicare For All plan would provide union members with better health coverage than they had before because it was “comprehensive.”
Rep. Tim Ryan interjected, “You don’t know that, Bernie.”
Sanders looked over, and shot back: “I do know that — I wrote the damn bill.”
The audience roared with laughter and applause as Sanders continued to explain how he says his plan would help union workers.
The moment led to a tweet from the Sanders campaign celebrating the moment — and hoping to cash in on it.
The campaign started selling a sticker with a picture of the Vermont senator on a bullhorn with the phrase “I wrote the damn bill” underneath.
“Don’t Tell me what’s in Medicare for All. I wrote the damn bill! #DemDebate. Make a contribution and get our sticker now,” the tweet reads.
The tweet goes on to say that people can “donate any amount to get this sticker”
5. Williamson on slavery reparations
Williamson was interrupted several times with loud applause as she talked about her idea to offer up to $500 billion in federal money to the descendants of slaves as reparations, an idea she said was a “payment of a debt that is owed.”
“It is time to simply realize that this country will not heal,” she argued. “People heal when there is deep-truth telling. We need to recognize that 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.”
Unlike others on the stage, Williamson said she was against creating a commission on reparations to study racism and reparations. She defended the amount she says is owed to descendants of slaves, saying she did the math on “40 acres and a mule,” a phrase used after the Civil War that promised newly freed slaves land as payment for their unpaid labor.
Williamson said those descendants are actually owed trillions of dollars and “anything less than $100 billion is an insult.”
“So many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface,” she said moving her hands to show the “emotional turbulence” that she says only reparations can solve.
Contributing: Nicholas Wu, John Fritze and Sarah Elbeshbishi