2020 Democratic debates
October 16, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) campaign knows exactly why several of her fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidates went after her during Tuesday's debate.

Warren has "built momentum by running a campaign of substance, identifying problems facing the country, and laying out her plans for big structural change to fix them," spokeswoman Kristen Orthman told CNN. "She took heat tonight as a result of that momentum, but she stayed focused on what's broken and how she plans to fix it with a government and an economy that works for the people. That's how Elizabeth will win the nomination, beat Donald Trump, and make big, structural change."

A frontrunner in many polls, Warren was targeted by, among other candidates, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who said she had "no plan" for how to pay for Medicare-for-all, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who was not happy that Warren wouldn't give him credit for helping get votes for her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Catherine Garcia

October 15, 2019

It sure felt like most of the Democratic candidates on the primary debate stage on Tuesday evening considered Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to be the frontrunner, as several of the field's more moderate voices directed their most ardent critiques at her. But she did have one ally — as usual, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) refused to go after his old friend.

There were some hints that Sanders would begin to distance himself from Warren a bit. Indeed in an interview that aired on Sunday, Sanders clarified that he considers himself a more radical and left-leaning candidate than Warren. But that didn't carry over to the debate stage — in fact, the two even teamed up a few times.

That said, several analysts have pointed out that they're supporters don't always see eye to eye, so the pair may eventually have to either prove themselves to the other's base or come to some sort of reckoning before all is said and done. For now, though, the truce holds. Tim O'Donnell

October 15, 2019

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro was not a fan of the final question asked during Tuesday night's debate.

Instead of ending with a question about an issue that affects Americans, the candidates were asked to describe their most surprising friendship, in reference to the recent Earth-shattering photo showing Ellen DeGeneres sitting next to former President George W. Bush at a football game. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) locked the Benghazi truther vote by saying she's close with former GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, while entrepreneur Andrew Yang revealed that he has a special ability to turn President Trump-supporting truck drivers named Fred into members of the Yang Gang.

This irked Castro, who tweeted his annoyance before the debate was even over. "Three hours and no questions tonight about climate, housing, or immigration," he said. "Climate change is an existential threat. America has a housing crisis. Children are still in cages at our border. But you know, Ellen." Catherine Garcia

October 15, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden wanted some credit, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) didn't bite.

Biden who was perhaps a bit fired up over the implication that he wasn't thinking boldly enough during his presidential, turned to Warren during the Democratic primary debate on Tuesday evening to explain how, when he was vice president, he helped get votes for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency Warren first proposed when she was a Harvard Law School professor.

"I got votes for that bill," Biden said. "I convinced people to vote for it. So let's get those things straight too."

In her response, Warren did express her deep gratitude — to former President Barack Obama. That drew a laugh from both the audience and even Biden himself. Warren did then go on to thank everyone who helped fight for the CFPB, though she still never singled out Biden.

As for who deserves credit for the CFPB? Well, Obama's former senior adviser David Axelrod said it belongs to the senator. Tim O'Donnell

October 15, 2019

After fielding questions on Medicare-for-all, breaking up big tech companies, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has had her voice heard more than any other candidate participating in tonight's debate.

With about 15 minutes left to go, Warren has had 20 minutes and 57 seconds of speaking time. That's a full six minutes more than former Vice President Joe Biden, who comes in second with 14 minutes and 53 seconds. Several candidates are between the 11 and 12 minute mark, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) with 11 minutes and 53 seconds and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) with 11 minutes and 46 seconds.

In his Democratic debate debut, businessman and activist Tom Steyer has been the quietest, with just five minutes and 50 seconds of speaking time. When he was able to get a word in, Steyer mentioned fighting climate change and the need to impeach President Trump. Catherine Garcia

October 15, 2019

The fourth Democratic debate will be make-or-break for many of the 12 candidates on stage Tuesday night, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made sure to leave an impression. Curiously, though, he specifically drew praise from conservatives by pulling to the right of his more progressive opponents.

"Buttigieg, who opened with a civility pitch but got lost in the progressive shuffle, clearly sees an opening in the center again," tweeted American Conservative editor and The Week contributor Jim Antle. Liz Mair, a libertarian and Republican communications strategist, praised Buttigieg's answer to an impeachment question that came early in the debate, when the mayor observed that after an inquiry, "think about where we'll be — vulnerable, even more torn apart by politics than we are right now."

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative writer for The Washington Post, marveled at Buttigieg's performance, tweeting that the mayor was "hitting this out of the park, out of the town." Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist at The Daily Beast, added: "I don't pretend to know how this exchange plays on the left, but ... Pete Buttigieg is winning this debate."

The daughter of the late Republican Sen. John McCain, Meghan McCain, also cheered Buttigieg when he pushed back on former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke's gun buyback proposal:

Many Democrats were, needless to say, less thrilled by Mayor Pete. "Buttigieg is getting closer to clinching the Republican nomination," quipped Farron Cousins, a co-host of the progressive Ring of Fire talk show. Jeva Lange

October 15, 2019

Presidential debates can be tense, to say the least, especially during primaries when friends can wind up pitted against each other. So there's always room for moments of levity. And during Tuesday night's Democratic primary debate in Westerville, Ohio, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden — who are generally of different persuasions on a number of issues — delivered a brief but delightful moment on stage.

Biden was railing against President Trump's foreign policy, particularly the trust he places in Russian President Vladimir Putin when, while gesticulating, he pointed toward Sanders as he said Putin's name. Sanders' wit kicked in, as he joked that Biden was suggesting he was Putin, leading to a good chuckle from the audience while the two candidates hugged it out. Tim O'Donnell

October 15, 2019

If President Trump is re-elected, the 29-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will be a thing of the past, former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday night.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to break NATO up, and Trump is playing right into his hands by saying he believes Putin's claim that he did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election over the assessment of his own intelligence community, Biden said. The fact is, "we have an erratic, crazy president who knows not a damn thing about foreign policy," he continued, and "operates out of fear for his own re-election."

NATO's Article 5 states that an attack on one member is an attack on all of them, and Trump has questioned whether or not he'll "keep that sacred commitment," Biden said. "If he is re-elected, I promise you, there will be no NATO. Our security will be vastly underrated, we'll be in real trouble." Catherine Garcia

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