The Democratic debate at Otterbein University had 12 candidates on the stage, more than any presidential debate in history. Although the number of candidates was large, each candidate was able to make an impact on the discussion.
The first topic of the debate was President Trump’s impeachment. All of the candidates are in agreement about wanting Trump removed from the White House.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “Trump is the most corrupt president in the history of this country.”
Early on in the debate, California Sen. Kamala Harris brought up the topic of women's reproductive health care. Harris said, “People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies and let women make their own decisions.”
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was also passionate about women’s reproductive rights. “It [banning abortion] is an assault on the most fundamental ideal that human beings should control their own body. I will create the Office of Reproductive Freedom and Reproductive Rights in the White House and make sure we begin to fight back on a systematic attempt that’s gone on for decades to fight for Roe v. Wade.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden talked a lot about his previous experiences in the White House. When asked about concerns regarding his age, Biden, 76, said, “One of the reasons I am running is because of my age and my experience. With it comes wisdom.”
Sanders, 78, was also asked about his age. Having recently suffered a heart attack, his health is a real concern as well. Sanders reassured viewers when he said, "I feel great . . . We are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country. That is how I think I can reassure the American people."
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for All plan was a hot topic of discussion. When asked how she would pay for it, she said, “Costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations, and for hardworking and middle-class families, the cost will go down.”
Businessman Tom Steyer talked about climate change and America’s role in the fight against it. “We have to work with our allies and our frenemies around the world. We’re gonna have to lead the world morally, technologically, financially, and commercially.”
One of the most heated moments in the debate was when former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg argued about gun control. O’Rourke supports a mandatory buyback, while Buttigieg wants bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
O’Rourke said, “We’re gonna make sure that the priority is saving the lives of our fellow Americans . . . I expect my fellow Americans to follow the law.”
“We can’t wait for universal background checks,” retaliated Buttigieg, who. “I don’t need lessons from you [O’Rourke] on courage . . . The problem is the NRA and their enablers in Congress, and we should be united in taking the fight to them.”
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro also got involved in the gun discussion. He said that he does not support a mandatory buyback because it could lead to more police violence: “Police violence is also gun violence, and we need to address that.”
Buttigieg and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who are both military veterans, discussed Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria. Gabbard believes that the troops should be withdrawn, while Buttigieg thinks that withdrawal will only lead to more bloodshed.
Gabbard said, “Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hands, but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime change war in Syria that started in 2011 . . . We need to get out, but we need to do this through a negotiated solution.”
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was passionate about the issue of the opioid crisis and voiced her support of jailing the CEOs of major pharmaceutical companies. “The people that should pay for the treatment are the very people that got people hooked and killed them in the first place, and that is the pharmaceutical companies.”
Businessman Andrew Yang’s biggest contribution to the debate was when he talked about taking money from huge companies and giving it back to the American people. Yang said, “If we give the American people a tiny slice of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every robot truck mile, every Facebook ad, we can generate hundreds of billions of dollars and then put it into our hands because we know best how to use it.”