MIAMI, FL — Candidates hoping to be tapped for the Democratic presidential nominee talked over one another and took jabs during the first two democratic debates broadcast live on NBC.
In a two-night event on June 26-27, 20 of the 24 total candidates vying for the Democratic nomination were eligible to participate in a debate where contenders discussed America’s most pressing issues, and their solutions to combat them.
In order to secure the nomination from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and move on to the general election, a candidate needs to receive the majority of votes cast from 3,768 delegates, according to political website 270 to Win.
A series of caucuses and primaries in each state will elect the Democratic nominee.
The Democratic National Committee is the governing body that oversees the Democratic Party. They are responsible for presidential primaries and caucuses. They are also in charge of scheduling DNC sanctioned debates.
Soon after the midterm elections, in late 2018, the DNC announced a preliminary schedule of 12 debates for Democratic candidates.
The Democratic nominee will be announced at the Democratic National Committee’s convention and is expected to take place in July of 2020.
Five NBC hosts moderated the debates held in Miami, Florida; Lester Holt of NBC Nightly News, Savannah Guthrie of the Today Show, Rachel Maddow of the Rachel Maddow Show, Chuck Todd of Meet the Press and Jose Diaz-Balart of Noticias Telemundo.
On a number of occasions during the debates three or more candidates tried to speak all at once, talking over each other and often the moderators as well.
“Hey guys, America does not want a food fight, they want to know how we plan to get food on their table,” said Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) after multiple candidates continued to speak over one another.
One of the major topics on the table for discussion was that of immigration, especially the status of immigrants coming across the southern border.
“One of the worst things about President (Donald) Trump that he has done to this country is he has torn apart the moral framework of who we are, when he started separating children from their parents at the border, the fact that seven children have died in his custody,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
She explained her plan to help immigrants here seeking asylum would include fighting for a comprehensive plan for a pathway to citizenship for people already here, to reform the way that the U.S. government treats immigrants at the southern border and employing a community-based treatment center where asylum seekers are provided lawyers. She also wants to help fund border security.
In response to a question asking about the decriminalization of crossing the southern border without official paperwork, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg noted that decriminalization would prevent child separations.
“Let’s remember (decriminalizing border crossings) is not just a theoretical exercise that is the basis for family separation, you do away with that, and it’s no longer possible. Of course, it wouldn’t be possible anyway in my presidency because it is dead wrong,” Buttigieg said.
He then pivoted to call out the Republican party saying: “We have to talk about one other thing because the Republican party likes to cloak itself in the language of religion. Now, our party doesn’t talk about that as much, largely for a very good reason and that is we are committed to the separation of church and state, and we stand for people of any religion and people of no religion, but we should call out hypocrisy when we see it.
“For a party that associates itself with Christianity to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages has lost all claim ever to use religious language again.”
Candidates like Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) all agreed on the premise that an immigrant whose only crime is crossing the border illegally should not be the focus for deportation.
The candidates also spent time talking about the issues surrounding race and police accountability. Recently, the town of South Bend, Indiana has been in an uproar over the shooting of an African American man at the hands of a white police officer. Maddow directed a question at Buttigieg asking why the police force in the town is not racially representative of the town.
In response, Buttigieg noted that this is a widespread issue and one that can be blamed upon systemic racism.
The candidates then discussed race in the United States.
During the discussion, Harris called out former Vice President Joe Biden’s history of working with segregationist senators in Congress and for opposing federal enforcement of bussing students to integrate schools.
“It was very hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and careers on segregation of race in this country,” she said addressing Biden. “It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing, and you know there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to schools every day, and that little girl was me.”
The economy was a major talking point for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
“Who is this economy really working for? It’s doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top, and it’s doing great for giant drug companies, it’s just not doing great for people who are trying to get a prescription filled. It’s doing great for people that want to invest in private prisons it’s just not going great for the African American and Latinx families that are being torn apart…When you’ve got an economy that does great for those with money and isn’t doing great for everyone else that is corruption pure and simple,” Warren said.
She then called for structural changes to our economy that would provide a more equitable system. Issues involving the super-rich, mega companies and income inequalities in the United States are a major part of her platform.
The second Democratic debate is scheduled for the end of July, this time held in Detroit, Michigan and hosted by CNN.