On Oct. 15, 2019, 12 candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination debated issues in Westerville, Ohio, the largest field ever in a single debate. The New York Times and CNN sponsored debate altered dynamics as the candidates battle for the nomination.
The dozen candidates were: Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Julián Castro and Tom Steyer.
Warren, who has emerged as a possible front-runner, drew criticism from her rivals. She has drawn support from her extensive policy plans, though Biden still criticised her health care plan as “vague” and implied she had not accomplished anything big.
Regarding legislation passed following the 2008 recession to protect people from banks, Warren touted her experience with both the legislature and executive, saying that she knows how to get legislation passed. Biden underscored Warren’s work on passing the bill.
“I went on the floor and got you votes,” said Biden. “I got votes for that bill. I convinced people to vote for it, so let’s get those things straight too.”
Warren was clever in her response.
“I am deeply grateful to President Obama, who fought so hard to make sure that agency was passed into law, and I am deeply grateful to every single person who fought for it and who helped pass it into law,” said Warren.
Biden, for his part, managed to avoid direct attacks in this debate, giving even more evidence of Warren’s status as a front-runner.
Buttigieg also attacked Warren during the debate, pressing her to answer whether her “Medicare for all” plan would require a middle class tax increase. Warren avoided a direct answer.
“A yes-or-no question that did not get a yes-or-no answer,” said Buttigieg.“Your signature, senator, is to have a plan for everything. Except this.”
While Warren, Sanders, Biden and Buttigieg took the main spotlight, the other candidates also made important contributions to the debate and their respective campaigns.
In the wake of his recent heart attack, 78-year-old Sanders sought to quell concerns about his health.
“I’m healthy, I’m feeling great,” said Sanders.
Sanders signaled his intent to continue his campaign undeterred.
“We are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country,” said Sander. “That is how I think I can reassure the American people.”
Both Harris and Booker sought to rise above the infighting, aiming their attacks at President Trump as opposed to their fellow candidates and pushing their own policy priorities.
“Tearing each other down because we have a different plan is unacceptable,” said Booker.
Harris spoke about the lack of questions regarding abortion and women’s health in the debates, saying: “This is the sixth debate we have had in this presidential cycle. Not one word with all of these discussions about health care, on women’s access to health care, which is under full-on attack in America today.”
The other candidates, Yang, Gabbard, Klobuchar, O’Rouke, Castro and Steyer, all made good use of their time, though failed to have any outstanding moments to combat their low polling scores.