The fourth Democratic debate, the largest ever, kicked off Tuesday night with the 12 Democrats on stage each addressing the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. “My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in response to Mr. Trump’s attacks.
Democrats also weren’t shy about taking aim at Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has been surging in polls. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg in particular were quick to respond to Warren’s statements on health care and on a wealth tax. She was pressed repeatedly by the moderators if she would raise taxes to pay for Medicare for All. She dodged several times but insisted she would “not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families.”
Warren was also criticized for her support for a wealth tax.
The debate, held in Westerville, Ohio, is being co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN.
The 10 candidates who qualified for the third debate, plus billionaire Tom Steyer and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, qualified with through the aggressive threshold for the fourth debate, which required reaching at least 2% in four qualifying polls and raising funds from 130,000 unique donors.
Watch CBSN for live coverage following the debate.
Candidates discuss drawdown of troops in northeastern Syria
9:09 p.m.: Biden slammed the president for pulling troops out of northeastern Syria, leaving Kurds to fend for themselves against an invasion by Turkey.
“It has been the most shameful thing that any president has done in modern history in terms of foreign policy,” Biden said, as the Kurds have helped the U.S. in the fight against the terrorist group ISIS. Biden said he would still have troops in Syria, but with sufficient air cover.
Gabbard, who has often been criticized for meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, criticized the president and fellow Democrats for perpetuating the war in the Middle East.
“Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hands,” she said. She chastised the “mainstream media” for “championing and cheerleading this regime-change war.”
Buttigieg said that he disagreed with Gabbard, saying the U.S. was witnessing “the beginning of a genocide” in Syria and that the special operations forces there had been the only thing that stood between Syria and the resurgence of ISIS.
Gabbard hit back, accusing Buttigieg of supporting endless wars in the Middle East.
Sanders also criticized Turkey, a NATO ally, saying that Turkey is “not a U.S. ally when they invade another country and engage in mass slaughter.”
— Grace Segers
Candidates on what they’d do about income inequality
8:45 p.m.: Sanders, who frequently criticizes millionaires and billionaires, was asked if he believes billionaires should be taxed out of existence.
Sanders answered by insisting there cannot be people sleeping on the streets while others live lavishly. He reiterated that he believes the wealthiest Americans should be taxed more, but didn’t specifically answer whether there should be no billionaires in the U.S.
Steyer, the only billionaire on stage, as one of the moderators pointed out, said he would undo every Republican tax cut for rich Americans. But that isn’t enough, he added. Steyer said corporations have failed, and too many Americans don’t have a “living wage.”
“The corporations have bought our government. Our government has failed,” Steyer said.
Biden said he, too, thinks the wealthy should pay more.
Warren said a wealth tax would provide for universal, tuition-free college and pay for childcare, among other things. The Massachusetts senator accused others on stage of caring more about protecting billionaires than about protecting middle-class Americans. Some took issue with this.
“I’m all for a wealth tax,” Buttigieg said. But the Indiana mayor said people need to realize how that language sounds to people in middle America. He mocked the “elegant policy prescriptions” that come out of Washington but that go nowhere.
Klobuchar suggested Warren’s framing is all wrong.
“I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth, because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire on stage wants to protect billionaires,” Klobuchar said, vowing she’d repeal significant parts of the Republican tax bill. Your idea is not the only idea, she told Warren.
— Kathryn Watson and Grace Segers
Yang and Warren spar over automation as the cause of job loss
8:42 p.m.: Warren challenged Yang’s common refrain that automation has led to mass job loss, particularly for customer service and manufacturing workers, saying that bad trade deals were a greater factor in job loss.
“So, the data shows that we’ve had a lot of problems with losing jobs — but the principal reason has been bad trade policy,” Warren said. She also challenged his support for universal basic income, saying “the thing closest to universal basic income is Social Security,” and promising to add $200 a month to Social Security.
Yang shot back that Warren was “ignoring the reality that Americans see around us every day.” The disagreement outlined one of the major differences between the two candidates in what they see as the major challenges which need to be addressed in the American economy.
Other candidates expressed support for universal basic income.
“I agree with my friend Andrew Yang, I think universal basic income is a good idea,” Gabbard said.
— Grace Segers and Kathryn Watson
Booker says Democrats are using “Donald Trump’s lies”
8:36 p.m.: When asked a question about jobs by a moderator, Booker criticized the line of questioning against Biden that referred to his son’s business dealings.
“We are literally using Donald Trump’s lies,” Booker said, adding that Biden should not have to defend himself against the unproven allegations by Mr. Trump.
Booker also criticized the moderators for not talking more about reproductive health before moving onto another topic.
“God bless Kamala, but women are not the only ones who should be taking up this cause and this fight,” Booker said.
Moderator Erin Burnett said that the debate would return to that topic.
— Grace Segers
Sanders says everyone would be guaranteed a job under his administration
8:34 p.m.: As automation eliminates many traditional jobs, Sanders was asked whether his plan would guarantee jobs for Americans. Sanders said it would.
Yang countered that a federal job guarantee doesn’t account for everyone — some people are unable to work, others might not like their jobs, and still others might not be good at their jobs, Yang said.
One of Yang’s top policies, known as universal basic income, involves giving each American adult $1,000 a month to use as they see fit.
— Kathryn Watson
Harris brings up abortion rights for first time in the debates
8:33 p.m.: Harris broke into the debate over health care to note that in the earlier Democratic primary debates, the topic of reproductive health care and abortion rights had not been raised.
“There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care,” Harris said, referring to several Republican-controlled states which have passed laws severely restricting abortion. She added that “women will die” due to lack of access to reproductive health.
“That is a significant health care issue today,” Harris said.
— Grace Segers
Candidates pile on Warren for failing to say how she’d pay for Medicare for All
8:20 p.m.: Pressed directly on whether she would raise taxes to pay for Medicare for All, Warren dodged. Costs will go down for middle-class Americans, she said. Pressed again, when one of the moderators pointed out Sanders has admitted his plan would increase taxes, Warren declined to specifically address whether taxes would go up for the middle class.
“I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families,” Warren responded.
Buttigieg, who has criticized Warren for failing to say how her plan would be paid for in the past, criticized her answer.
“Well, we heard it tonight,” Buttigieg said. “A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question that didn’t get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.” Buttigieg supports what he calls, “Medicare for All Who Want It.” Buttigieg accused Warren of wanting to “obliterate” private health care plans Americans want.
Sanders then jumped into the mix: “I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up.”
Klobuchar, too, said she believes Warren owes it to the American people to say how she’ll pay for Medicare for All. She told Warren she “owes it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice.”
Klobuchar said Warren is “making Republican talking points right now in this room” by threatening to take away private health insurance and not saying how to pay for Medicare for All.
The Minnesota Democrat said Obamacare should be expanded.
“The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something you can actually get done,” Klobuchar said.
— Grace Segers and Kathryn Watson
“My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” Biden says
8:16 p.m.: Biden addressed Mr. Trump’s frequent criticism of Hunter Biden’s decision to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president. Moderator Anderson Cooper noted there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden, although Mr. Trump has called on Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens.
“My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” Biden said. “I carried out the policy of the United States government of rooting out corruption in Ukraine. What I think is important is we focus on why it’s so important to remove this man from office.”
Biden also said that his son’s statement on the matter “speaks for itself” and that he never discussed “a single thing” regarding Ukraine with his son.
“He knows that if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum,” Biden said.
The moderators quickly moved on to another topic, over the objections of Cory Booker, who said that it is “wrong to move on.” He implied that Mr. Trump’s actions in asking foreign countries to investigate the Bidens needed to be more thoroughly discussed.
— Grace Segers
Candidates on why they support impeaching Trump instead of waiting until 2020 election
8:02 p.m.: All of the Democrats on stage Wednesday night support at minimum the impeachment inquiry in the House. Asked why she supports an impeachment inquiry instead of just voting him out in 2020, Warren said some things are about politics.
“Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences,” Warren said.
Warren added that this is about the “next president and the next president and the next president.”
Sanders said Mr. Trump is “the most corrupt president” the country has seen in modern history.
Biden, who only recently supported the impeachment inquiry, pointed to the Trump administration’s efforts to impede House Democrats’ investigation as a sign of obstruction of justice. Biden agreed with Sanders.
“This president…is the most corrupt president in modern history and I think all of our history,” Biden said.
Harris insisted the president “has committed crimes in plain sight.”
Klobuchar said U.S. leaders have the “constitutional duty” to pursue impeachment. She wondered how trying to get the Ukrainian president to interfere in U.S. elections makes America great again and how leaving Kurds “for slaughter” makes America great again. “It doesn’t make America great again,” she said. “It makes Russia great again.”
Castro said the president should not only be impeached, but removed from office.
Buttigieg argued the president has “left the Congress with no choice” but to impeach him. The impeachment process is also about the presidency itself, Buttigieg added.
— Kathryn Watson
Candidates take the stage
7:58 p.m.: The candidates began taking the stage at 7:53 p.m., with Biden out first, followed by Warren and Sanders.
— Kathryn Watson
Democrats debate which proposal is best to tackle rural hospital crisis
7 p.m.: One topic sure to come up in the debate this evening is “Medicare for All,” the single-payer health care plan championed in particular by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and opposed by more moderate candidates like Joe Biden.
Experts and candidates diverge on whether universal healthcare proposals like Medicare for All, which would eliminate most private insurance in favor of a government-run system, to more modest efforts like giving Americans the option of choosing publicly-funded insurance — could drive America’s remaining rural hospitals into the red.
Asked in September about her support for “Medicare for All,” Warren insisted at the third presidential debate that all Americans–even those in rural communities–could still seek treatment at their local hospitals under the universal healthcare plan.
“So let’s be clear about this. People will have access to all of their doctors, all of their nurses, their community hospitals, their rural hospitals,” the Massachusetts Democrat vowed.
But a Pew study last year showed that those who live in rural areas face challenges in finding hospitals that are close enough to provide care.
Read more here.
— LaCrai Mitchell and Alexander Tin
CBS News poll: Most Americans favor a national health plan
6:22 p.m.: A majority of Americans agree with many of the Democratic presidential candidates in favoring some type of national health insurance plan, though most Americans still like the health insurance they currently have and do not want private insurance to be replaced by a public option.
Meanwhile, more Americans today approve than disapprove of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, though many — including most Democrats — now think the law didn’t go far enough.
Fifty-six percent of Americans think providing access to affordable health care coverage for all Americans is the responsibility of the federal government, and two-thirds favor the creation of a national, government-administered health insurance plan similar to Medicare that would be available to all Americans.
Read more about the poll here.
— Jennifer De Pinto and Fred Backus
CBS News Battleground Tracker: Voters want to see more of Warren
Tonight’s presidential debate in Ohio is an opportunity for voters to learn more about the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in 2020. In the latest CBS News Battleground Tracker, we asked Democrats in the early primary and caucus states which one candidate — out of the candidates they’re considering but not their first choice — they want to hear or see more about in the coming weeks. This question is a signal about which candidates are piquing voters’ interest and could have room to grow.
Across these 18 early states, Elizabeth Warren is the candidate selected most often: 24% of voters say they would like to hear or see more about her. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders were mentioned by 12% of voters each. At 11%, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are close behind them. The other seven candidates sharing the stage tonight were mentioned by 5% of voters or less.
If you click around the interactive graphic below, you can see how the numbers break down across the early states, as well as in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina — three of the earliest states to hold their nominating contests next year.
Read more about the Battleground Tracker here.
— Kabir Khanna
Hunter Biden addresses Ukraine controversy before debate
Hours before Tuesday night’s debate, Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, admitted in an interview on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” that he exercised “poor judgment” in working on the board of a Ukrainian energy company–but said he did “nothing improper” in doing so.
His role on the board of Burisma spurred President Trump to ask Ukraine’s president in a now-infamous July 25 call to investigate the Bidens for corruption and to tell reporters earlier this month that both Ukraine and China should look into the Bidens. The president’s Ukraine call led the U.S. House to launch a formal impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump.
Biden told ABC News that he has no regrets about joining the board of Burisma, but “what I regret is not taking into account that there would be a Rudy Giuliani and a president of the United States that would be listening to this ridiculous conspiracy idea.”
Biden, who recently announced that he will step down from the board of a Chinese private equity firm, said he only had a “brief exchange” with his father about his role in Ukraine.
“I gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father,” Biden also said. “That’s where I made the mistake. So I take full responsibility for that.”
Biden set to take stage amid ongoing personal controversy
Since the last debate, Biden, to his dismay, landed a starring role in the political drama of the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
While he’ll likely continue to aim to pitch his more moderate plans as more realistic than those of his Democratic rivals, it is nearly certain he’ll be asked about the central narrative of what Mr. Trump wanted the Ukraine government to investigate — Hunter Biden’s position with Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, which he accepted while his father was running U.S. policy in Ukraine and trying to root out corruption.
Over the past three weeks, Biden has responded to Mr. Trump’s unproven claims of Biden family corruption by declaring they have no merit because there is “zero” evidence of wrongdoing. But late on Sunday in Altoona, Iowa, Biden told reporters that if he wins the presidency, his family members will not work in foreign companies. This change comes after his son, Hunter, released a statement through his lawyer earlier Sunday morning stating that if his father wins the White House he would stop working for foreign companies.
Biden told reporters that this was Hunter Biden’s decision alone. Asked by CBS News why Hunter could not continue in the role if there were no conflict of interest, Biden stood by his son. “He could,” he said in part. — Bo Erickson
What will the candidates say on Syria?
Lawmakers of both parties are working on a resolution to “overturn” President Trump’s decision to quickly withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which has imperiled the Kurdish allies who have largely borne the burden of the fight against ISIS. It’s a topic that will almost certainly come up in Ohio Tuesday night. Here are some points the candidates may be asked about.
- Stance on U.S. troops in Syria
- Negotiating with Turkish President Recep Erdogan, the NATO ally who is attacking Kurdish allies
- Preventing Russia and Iran from filling the power vacuum
- What’s the next move and the ultimate goal?
How to watch the Democratic debate Tuesday
- Date: Tuesday, October 15, 2019
- Time: 8 to 11 p.m. ET
- Location: Otterbein University – Westerville, OH
- TV Channel: CNN, CNN en Español and CNN International
- Online stream: Watch the debate on CNN.com or watch CNN on fuboTV (free trial offer)
- Analysis: Watch CBSN for live coverage of the debate before, during and after
- Preview: What to watch for during the debate