Front-runners Biden, Sanders under attack in second democratic debate

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, 20 Democratic candidates took the stage at the second Democratic presidential debate in Detroit. The two nights of debate were centered around the issues of healthcare, immigration, gun laws, criminal justice, climate change and women’s rights, as well as questions targeting specific candidates’ credibility. 

The first night consisted of front runners Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. Most of the debate centered around Sanders’ proposals and brought smaller candidates in to attack the smaller points of his plans. On the issue of healthcare, U.S. Representative John Delaney challenged Sanders on his Healthcare for All plan, saying Democrats don’t have to “be the party of subtraction” by telling people who already have private healthcare they must switch to a public option. Sanders rebuffed this criticism by arguing that the tie of healthcare services to the job a person holds violates a human right.

One question from the first night directly targeted senator Bernie Sanders. The candidates were asked if they thought Sanders’ ideas were too radical to actually make any progress in Washington. Former Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper responded by saying that Bernie’s support of Democratic socialism was much too radical to win the majority of votes and the nomination into office. John Delaney followed up, saying, “I think Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible answers,” but was then criticized by Elizabeth Warren for trying to limit the changes the American people want their president to fight for in office. 

Overall, the most pivotal candidates of the first night were Sanders and Warren. Buttigieg and O’Rourke failed to leave as much of an impression in the second debate as they did in the first, but perhaps this was due to the lack of screen time they were given this time around. Marianne Williamson lost again, appearing rather submissive and letting her words fade out when her time was up instead of plowing through like Elizabeth Warren to get her point across. 

On the second night, the rivalry between senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden continued. This time, they clashed on pretty much every topic discussed, including the issue of healthcare. Harris criticized Biden’s support of ObamaCare, saying her new healthcare plan will insure the 10 million Americans ObamaCare forgets. 

Cory Booker also jumped in to criticize Biden on his criminal-justice record, saying that most of his work as mayor had been to reverse the laws which Biden had passed. Biden’s record of stopping bussing to integrate schools was also brought up again in this debate. Later in the night, former senator Kirsten Gillibrand called out Biden for a past statement he made about how women working outside the home caused a family to deteriorate. In combination, these accusations make Biden appear to be just saying lines that differ from what he actually does in office in order to win over voters .

In my opinion, the true winner of the second debate was senator Cory Booker. Even when under fire, Booker was able to keep his cool and engage in discussion in a civil and productive way. When criticized by Biden, the top polling candidate currently, he held his own and stated the facts as they were. With Sanders, Harris and Biden under scrutiny, Booker was able to rise to the top unscathed and gain popularity. According to a Politico poll on Aug. 1, Booker is now tied with O’Rourke, polling at 3%. 

The third Democratic debate will occur Sept. 12 and 13 in Houston, Tx. To qualify, the candidates will have to attain a polling number of at least 2 percent in four polls after the first debate and have at least 130,000 unique donors. Make sure to tune in next week for another update on the race.