CHARLESTON, S.C. — Seven candidates took the stage Tuesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, for the Democratic presidential primary debate, including former Vice President Joe Biden; billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; California billionaire Tom Steyer; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Here are five memorable moments from the event:
1. Buttigieg, Sanders spar over Sanders’ progressive agenda.
Buttigieg and Sanders had a heated exchange over whether Sanders’ agenda is too “radical,” leading to the pair talking over each other for half a minute.
The sparring match began when Buttigieg said: “I am not looking forward to a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump, with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950s, and Bernie Sanders with a nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960s.”
Sanders later replied: “Let us be clear, do we think health care for all, Pete, is some kind of radical communist idea?”
Crosstalk ensued, with Buttigieg arguing that the way Sanders is talking about implementing his plans “is radical,” while Sanders insisted that voters back his agenda.
2. Warren takes aim at Bloomberg ... again.
Warren and Bloomberg quickly butted heads Tuesday night, with Warren calling the billionaire the “riskiest candidate” and Bloomberg claiming the Massachusetts senator has been bringing up “sideshows."
”You know, this is personal for me," Warren said. “When I was 21 years old, I got my first job as a special education teacher. I loved that job. And by the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant. The principal wished me luck and gave my job to someone else. Pregnancy discrimination, you bet. But I was 21 years old. I didn’t have a union to protect me, and I didn’t have any federal law on my side. So I packed up my stuff, and I went home.”
Then, referring to allegations in a 1998 lawsuit filed by former Bloomberg employee Sekiko Sakai Garrison, Warren continued: “At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘Kill it,’ the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees.”
Bloomberg, who has denied Garrison’s claims, fired back: “I never said that. Oh, come on.”
Warren later added: “Then let ... the women have an opportunity to speak. The Bloomberg corporations and Mayor Bloomberg himself have been accused of discrimination. They are bound by nondisclosures so that they cannot speak. If he says there is nothing to hide here, then sign a blanket release and let those women speak out so that they can tell their stories the way I can tell my story without having the fear they’re going to be sued by a billionaire.”
3. Bloomberg, Buttigieg discuss ‘stop and frisk.’
When asked why he has apologized for implementing “stop and frisk” as mayor of New York, Bloomberg said his administration “let it get out of control."
”When I realized that, I cut it back by 95 percent," Bloomberg said. “And I’ve apologized and asked for forgiveness. I’ve met with black leaders to try to get an understanding of how I can better position myself and what I should have done and what I should do next time.”
Moderator Gayle King then asked Buttigieg if he believed that New York’s “stop and frisk” policy was racist.
“Yes, in effect, it was,” Buttigieg said. “Because it was about profiling people based on their race. And the mayor even said that they disproportionately stopped white people too often and minorities too little.”
4. Candidates discuss the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Klobuchar was asked the first question about the novel coronavirus outbreak, saying she would close borders to Americans who have been exposed to the illness.
She then pivoted to say helping infected Americans is more important.
“I’m not gonna give you my website; I’m going to give the CDC’s site, it’s cdc.gov,” she said.
Biden said he would restore funds that had been cut from the CDC and insist on openness from China, while Sanders heavily criticized Trump’s response to the outbreak.
”In the White House today, we have a self-described ‘great genius’ – self-described – and this ‘great genius’ has told us that this coronavirus is going to end in two months," Sanders said. “April is the magical day that this great scientist we have in the White House has determined. I wish I was kidding; that is what he said.”
He went on to add that international cooperation and restoring funding to health agencies are necessary to combat the spread of the virus.
Trump later tweeted in response.
“CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus, including the very early closing of our borders to certain areas of the world,” he wrote. “It was opposed by the Dems, ‘too soon,’ but turned out to be the correct decision.”
5. Warren, Buttigieg advocate for ending Senate filibuster.
In response to a question about gun reform, Warren argued that eliminating the Senate’s filibuster is a necessary step to getting legislation passed.
“What I’ve seen is gun safety legislation introduced, get a majority, and then doesn’t pass because of the filibuster,” she said. “Understand this: The filibuster is giving a veto to the gun industry.”
Buttigieg also argued in favor of ending the filibuster while criticizing Sanders for not supporting the rule change.
“This is not some long-ago bad vote that Bernie Sanders took; this is a current bad position that Bernie Sanders holds,” Buttigieg said.
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