Democratic presidential candidates denounce inequality in first debate but diverge over how

first_imgBy New York Times |Miami | Updated: June 27, 2019 8:53:52 am Democratic presidential candidates denounce inequality in first debate, but diverge over how to fix it From left, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) share a laugh in a commercial break during the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami (Doug Mills/The New York Times)By Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Post Comment(s) But other Democratic presidential candidates proceeded more cautiously: Without criticizing Warren or other liberal populists by name, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota suggested that certain ambitious progressive plans — to provide free college tuition, for instance — might go too far.Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey stopped short of endorsing Warren’s call to break up the biggest tech companies, like Facebook and Google, while saying it was clear that the economy “is not working for average Americans.”When Booker was reminded that he had attacked Warren earlier this year for naming some of the corporations she would break up, he said “I don’t think we disagree,” adding that he also feels strongly about “the need to check corporate consolidation.”A more clarifying moment came when the moderators asked the 10 candidates which of them would support eliminating private health insurance as part of a single-payer health care plan: Only Warren and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York raised their hands. “I am just simply concerned about kicking half of Americans off their health insurance in just four years,” said Klobuchar, linking her more incremental approach to that of former President Barack Obama.However, Warren won loud applause from the audience when she called health care “a human right” and, without mentioning any of her rival’s names, said that those against Medicare for All are “really telling you is they just won’t fight for it.”Trying to win attention from liberal voters, de Blasio went even further, interrupting the explanation by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas about why he was opposed to ending private insurance.“How can you defend a system that’s not working?” de Blasio demanded. Advertising Democratic presidential candidates leveled a harsh critique of inequality in the American economy under President Donald Trump in the first primary debate Tuesday, but split in polite but stark terms over just how much change and economic disruption the next progressive president must pursue.Appearing beside nine other Democrats in Miami, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts denounced the current economic system as tilted overwhelmingly toward the wealthy, diagnosing it as “corruption, pure and simple.” Breezing past a moderator’s skeptical question about her sweeping plans to overhaul the government, Warren projected one of her core campaign themes on the biggest stage yet.“We need to attack it head on,” Warren said in reference to what she described as a rigged system. “And we need to make structural change in our government, in our economy and in our country.” Taking stock of monsoon rain Best Of Express More Explained After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Advertising Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach For the most part, though, the contenders trumpeted their own proposals and résumés while training their fire on Trump and Republican economic policies, which they said were favoring the wealthy.“He says wind turbines cause cancer, we know they cause jobs,” said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.The debate came at a moment when party activists were unified on the urgency of ejecting Trump from the White House but deeply divided over the best approach.Dating to the day after Trump’s inauguration, when millions of women marched in U.S. cities, Democratic contempt for the president has produced a supercharged liberal activism — and prompted a new level of engagement culminating in last year’s elections, which saw the largest turnout for a midterm campaign in a half-century.This energy has carried over into 2019, as many of the Democratic hopefuls have attracted unusually large crowds at early rallies and forums, large numbers of small-dollar donors and hundreds of volunteers who are already following every dip and rise in the race.But for many of the party’s primary voters, the back-to-back debates represented their first extended look at the Democrats’ historically large, and diverse, field. On Wednesday, 10 of the candidates took the stage at a performing arts center in Miami and another 10 were set to follow Thursday, an accommodation that still left out a few contenders.The initial debates were not expected to pique the sort of broad interest that the first Republican faceoff did four years ago, when the anticipation of seeing a bombastic reality television star on a political debate stage drew 24 million viewers. But the forums could bring more definition to the Democratic contest.The race has been chiefly defined by a central question: Should Democrats rally behind former Vice President Joe Biden, a moderate who is the field’s best-known candidate, or find a more progressive alternative. While Biden has proved to be resilient in the polls since entering the race in April, thanks in large part to his appeal with older and moderate Democrats, he is a fragile front-runner and has already seen his advantage ebb in Iowa and New Hampshire.In recent weeks he has also come under fire from some in his party, including many of his rivals, for only reluctantly embracing public funding for abortion, and for speaking fondly of making policy in a Senate that included a pair of notorious segregationists.Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has retained much of the grassroots and financial network that powered him to unexpected success in the 2016 Democratic race, but he has struggled to expand his appeal beyond his committed supporters.That is in part because the party’s left flank now has a wealth of alternatives, including Warren, who has recently surged in a number of surveys — partly at Sanders’ expense — after months of laying out a series of ambitious policy proposals. But not all of these candidates will be on the same stage this week.For Wednesday’s forum, Warren loomed well above the other nine candidates flanking her on either side. She has gained considerable strength as a champion for the party’s progressive wing, stitching together a still-developing coalition heavy on young people, women and educated liberals. In some national and early-state polls, Warren has caught up with Sanders as the second-place challenger to Biden, or come close to doing so.Yet Warren, an agile and at times cutting rhetorician known for her facility with facts and statistical data, still faces skepticism from influential constituencies in the party, particularly about her ability to win the general election. The debates may be Warren’s best chance both to show Democratic voters that she is capable of defending her liberal policy proposals before a wide audience, and to project the kind of flinty resilience that might give Democrats confidence she can hold her own against a president who has reveled in attacking her personally.To this end, some of Warren’s advisers were hoping for her to use the first debate to focus as much on her modest Oklahoma roots and rise to success as the wide-ranging plans she has unveiled and delights in detailing.For many — perhaps most — of the other candidates on stage Wednesday, the debate appeared to be less a test of momentum than a bid for relevance. No other candidate has broken the 5% mark in recent Democratic primary polls, and at least one, O’Rourke, has seen his support fade steadily since the beginning of the year.O’Rourke and his fellow Texan, Julián Castro, the former federal housing secretary, have increasingly focused on immigration as a campaign theme, highlighting their distinctive border-state credentials — and in Castro’s case, his Latino identity.Trump’s pledge to begin a mass roundup of families residing illegally in the United States has the potential to thrust immigration even more squarely into the center of the Democratic primary contest. Several of the candidates used their trip to South Florida to visit a local detention center for unaccompanied migrant children.“What is happening here in Homestead is wrong,” Warren said outside the detention center Wednesday, hours before the debate. “And we will fight it with everything we have.”Perhaps no other candidate was as grateful for the chance to demonstrate his oratory for a large audience as Booker. Booker has electrified activists at candidate forums and assembled a strong early-state organization, but he has languished in the polls in part because of his inability to draw attention on the internet and on television.Klobuchar has similarly struggled to find traction. She has trumpeted her three Senate victories in a Midwestern state that nearly fell to Trump in 2016, and argued that few other candidates in the field match her record of legislative accomplishments. But she has yet to distinguish herself in a field of better-known and more liberal candidates.Inslee has staked his candidacy on climate change as a singular concern, proposing sweeping energy and environmental plans and vowing to dedicate his presidency to enacting them. He has led the call for a debate focused solely on climate change, though there are no plans for that right now.Other long-shot candidates have tried to break through in less policy-oriented ways: de Blasio, for instance, has positioned himself generally on the left and sought out opportunities to criticize Biden. Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland has adopted a mirror image of that approach, branding himself as a business-friendly centrist and an unapologetic antagonist to Sanders; he has sharply criticized Sanders’ Medicare for All Act. Top News The overabundance of Democratic presidential candidates has made for a logistically awkward, and politically messy, start to the debate season. With two dozen candidates, of varying degrees of seriousness, the Democratic National Committee decided to require that they clear certain thresholds in their polling and fundraising numbers in order to participate in the televised forums. Twenty candidates cleared those light requirements, leading to a split stage for these events and another pair of debates planned for next month. Advertisinglast_img

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