The top moments from day two in Detroit
WASHINGTON – Night two. 10 candidates. Lots of fighting.
There was a lot of anticipation of another faceoff between Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden during Wednesday’s Democratic Debate in Detroit but Biden — the current frontrunner — was the target of basically everyone on stage.
Candidates vying for the party’s nomination in the 2020 election attacked Biden on everything from race and immigration to healthcare and his record as the vice president.
And yes — there were lots of fireworks.
1. Booker to Biden: You can’t invoke Obama ‘when it’s convenient’
Sen. Cory Booker hit Biden hard multiple times throughout the debate.
After Biden ducked a question where New York Mayor Bill de Blasio put him on the spot about whether he backed the 3 million deportations that happened under former President Barack Obama, Booker took on Biden.
“You can’t have it both ways,” Booker told Biden. “You invoke President Obama more than anyone in this campaign; you can’t do it when it’s convenient and then duck it when it’s not.”
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Booker continued to hit Biden on immigration after the former vice president suggested that immigrants should be able to stay in the country and “get a green card for seven years” if they were highly educated.
Booker said that played “exactly into what the president wants” by dividing immigrants into different categories.
“Well that’s playing into what the Republicans want: to pit some immigrants against other immigrants,” he said.
“Some are from shithole countries,” Booker said, reprising a remark that Trump reportedly made in the White House when discussing whether to allow immigrants into the U.S. from Haiti and African countries. “Some are from worthy countries.”
2. Castro to Biden: ‘One of us has learned the lessons of the past and one hasn’t’
Obama’s former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro also took aim Biden on immigration.
In a heated back and forth over decriminalizing crossing the U.S. border, Castro argued why it was necessary for reducing crossings to a civil offense. But Biden questioned why Castro hadn’t brought up his qualms while serving in Obama’s administration.
Castro shot back. “One of us has learned the lessons of the past and one hasn’t,” he said. “What we need is politicians who actually have some guts on this issue.”
Biden then said: “I have guts enough to say his plan doesn’t make sense.”
3. Gabbard attacks Harris on marijuana
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard targeted Harris over her history as the top prosecutor in California, a topic she’s been scrutinized over since announcing her candidacy for president.
Gabbard took on Harris’ record over prosecuting drug offenses and the death penalty.
“I’m deeply concerned about this record,” Gabbard said, starting to read from a list of issues, including what she says was Harris blocking evidence that could have freed a man from death row and keeping inmates behind bars to use as “cheap labor.”
“She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said.
Harris defended herself, saying, “as elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people — which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.”
4. ‘You’re dipping into the Kool-Aid’
In an exchange on criminal justice, Biden took heat from Booker on a bill that he shepherded through the Senate in 1994 that experts say resulted in mass incarceration.
Biden challenged Booker on his criminal justice record as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and the issues with the police department there. Booker hit back saying he was “shocked” Biden wanted to compare records.
“If you want to compare records — and, frankly I’m shocked that you do — I am happy to do that. Because all the problems that he is talking about that he created, I actually led the bill that got passed into law that reverses the damage that your bill,” Booker said. “You were bragging about calling it the Biden crime bill up until 2015.”
Biden claimed that there was “nothing done” during Booker’s eight years as mayor and questioned his “zero-tolerance policy of stop and frisk policy.”
“Mr. Vice President, there’s a saying in my community: You’re dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know the flavor,” Booker retorted.
5. Gillibrand’s failed attack on Biden
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand questioned Biden’s past statements on a women’s role in the economy.
Biden, Gillibrand said, argued that women working could lead to a “deterioration” of families.
“I just need to understand, as a woman who’s working my entire career – [is] my serving in Congress resulting in the deterioration family?” Gillibrand asked.
Biden responded by saying that he made the remarks “a long time ago” and that the context was that he wanted to direct a tax credit for childcare to middle-income families.
“As a single father who in fact raised three children, I have some idea of what it costs,” Biden said.
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In fact, Biden raised two children by himself, sons Beau and Hunter. His third child, a daughter, died along with his wife in a car crash a week before Christmas in 1972.
Gillibrand continued to press, asking Biden what he meant by those words.
Biden then turned the attack around, pointing to Gillibrand’s record of working with him on these issues and past comments, where Biden said Gillibrand called him “passionate” on women’s rights and being treated equally.
“I don’t know what happened except you’re now running for president,” he said as the crowd erupted in applause.
6. Gillibrand on race: I can explain white privilege ‘in the suburbs’
The issue of race was centerstage throughout the debate and Gillibrand argued it shouldn’t just be the task of minorities to highlight this issue.
Gillibrand said she could make the case for racial justice to “white women in the suburbs.”
More: Gillibrand says she can explain white privilege to ‘white women in the suburbs’
“I can explain to white women in the suburbs that when their son is walking down the street with a bag of M&Ms in his pocket, wearing a hoodie, his whiteness is what protects him from not being shot,” said Gillibrand, referencing the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed in Florida in 2012. The case helped spur the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I don’t believe that it’s the responsibility of Cory and Kamala to be the only voice that takes on these issues of institutional racism,” Gillibrand continued. “As a white woman of privilege who is a U.S. Senator, it is also my responsibility to lift up those voices.”
Gillibrand called it her responsibility to explain to people across America why the issue is everyone’s responsibility to address.
7. Harris, Biden spar over healthcare
Biden and Harris continued their sparring over the future of American healthcare.
Biden was criticizing Democrats who supported Medicare for All, referencing plans endorsed by Harris and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“I don’t know what math you do in New York, I don’t know what math you do in California, but I tell you, that’s a lot of money, and there will be a deductible, and that will be out of your paycheck, because that’s what’s required,” said Biden.
Differences on policy: ‘Let’s talk about math’: Biden and Harris spar over healthcare
Harris shot back, citing the pharmaceutical industry’s profits.
“Let’s talk about math,” Harris said. “Last year the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies alone profited $72 billion, and under your plan, you do nothing to hold the insurance companies to task for what they have been doing for American families.”
Policies like Medicare for All have emerged as a cleavage point during the Democratic debates. Progressives have endorsed Medicare for All-type proposals that would greatly expand the federal government’s role in healthcare. Others, like Biden, have endorsed proposals that would phase in an expansion of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
8. Biden’s flub that sent voters to the wrong website
Biden, in his closing remarks, did what basically every other Democrat on the stage did: drop a way for voters to support his campaign.
But Biden accidentally sent voters to the wrong place. The apparent flub sent Twitter into a frenzy and his Democratic rivals to capitalize.
“This is the United States of America. When we’ve acted together, we have never, never, never been able to overcome whatever the problem was. If you believe me go to joe30330 and help me win this fight,” Biden said, telling voters to go to joe30330, a website, rather than “text Joe30330,” which he’s asked voters to do throughout his campaign.
What is Joe30330?: Biden misspeaks while pitching his text number for voters
Within minutes, it redirected joe30330.com to what looked like a website for Gen Z’er who says he’s ‘not joshin’ you’. But when you click the Donate button on the page, it again redirects to an ActBlue donation page for Buttigieg.
Asking voters to text a custom number is a common way for campaigns to gather donor information.
But Biden’s flub sent people to a website that didn’t exist.
If you send a text to Joe30330 now, you will get a fundraising pitch from the Biden campaign, asking for your support and to donate to his effort.
Contributing: John Fritze, Michael Collins, Rebecca Morin, Nicholas Wu, Camille Caldera, Sarah Elbeshbishi and Ledyard King