Democrats zero in on Elizabeth Warren at debate

Reaction in Iowa and New Hampshire to 4th debate

Twelve Democrats took the debate stage on Tuesday night, but it was Senator Elizabeth Warren who had most of the speaking time and weathered most of the attacks from her competitors, a manifestation of her front-runner status.

Warren has repeatedly avoided saying she’d raise taxes on middle-class families to pay for the creation of the single-payer health care system she supports, “Medicare for All.” On Tuesday night, she stuck to that message, saying only, “I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families.”

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg retorted, “Well, we heard it tonight — a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question that didn’t get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.”

Sanders, who likes to remind people that he “wrote the damn bill,” chimed in. “I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up.”

Amy Klobuchar accused Warren of “making Republican talking points” by threatening to take health insurance from millions of Americans and not saying how she’d pay for Medicare for All. She told Warren that she “owes it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice.”

Both Klobuchar and Buttigieg support the expansion of health care coverage, along the lines of the Affordable Care Act, and not single-payer health care, which they believe is too costly and takes choice away from the American people. “The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something you can actually get done,” Klobuchar said.

Later, Warren challenged the other contenders on support of a wealth tax. “Why is it — does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?”

Buttigieg mocked Washington’s “elegant policy prescriptions,” and added that “nothing changes.”

“Why did workers take chance on this president,” he asked. “It’s because it felt like nobody was willing to actually do anything.”

Klobuchar was more direct. “I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth, because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire (Tom Steyer) wants to protect billionaires,” she said, to laughter from the audience. “We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea.”

For the first time, abortion came up in the Democratic primary debates, with Kamala Harris bringing up states that have passed restrictive abortion laws that she said would endanger women’s lives. Moderators also brought up the topic later in the debate. Booker said he’d create an office of reproductive freedom and rights if elected.

Warren didn’t receive all the fire, though. Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke went head-to-head on guns, a continuation of the back-and-forth the two have engaged in on the campaign trail.

After O’Rourke was pressed on his mandatory gun buyback plan, Buttigieg answered, “You made it clear you don’t know how this is going to take weapons off the street,” a point that moderator Anderson Cooper also seemed to be making as he questioned O’Rourke.

After O’Rourke called out the “inspiration and leadership” of groups like March for Our Lives and Moms Demand Action, Buttigieg jabbed at O’Rourke by saying, “I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.”

The debate kicked off with questions about the impeachment inquiry. All the candidates support the impeachment inquiry. Separately, Joe Biden, whose son and his work for a Ukrainian energy company is part of the inquiry, defended himself and his son, saying, “My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong.”

The debate, held in Westerville, Ohio, was co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN.

Watch CBSN for live coverage following the debate.


O’Rourke: “I’m confident that the American people want to see us act on gun violence”

O’Rourke doubles down on gun buyback plan after Buttigieg criticism

After O’Rourke and Buttigieg’s testy exchange during the debate, O’Rourke told CBS News’ Caitlin Huey-Burns and Ed O’Keefe that this disagreement is about “what is politically possible in this country.” O’Rourke again swiped at Buttigieg as being led by polls or consultants, but O’Rourke insisted “then you stop well short of the solution that we need.”

“If you’re willing just to call it out for what it is and do the right thing, regardless of the political consequences as I’m suggesting America does, then we really have a chance to save so many lives and to make sure that we avail ourselves of this opportunity,” O’Rourke said. “So I think that was the heart of the disagreement between us. I’m confident that the American people want to see us act on gun violence and not do half steps or half measures but do everything that’s required to save the lives of our fellow Americans.”

At the debate, O’Rourke deflected when asked how he plans to deal with gun owners who refuse to sell back their weapons. He continued to be vague in the spin room, saying he believes Americans will follow the law.

When pressed, O’Rourke suggested working with Congress or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, or local law enforcement.

“The important thing is to get those weapons of the street and if we stop the conversation before even having a chance to look at the details because it doesn’t poll well or it isn’t politically convenient or it isn’t within the NRA-defined sphere of the debate then we will have lost before we ever began. So I know we can do this,” O’Rourke said.

Caroline Linton

Harris calls out lack of discussion about abortion

Harris calls out lack of abortion discussion during debates

Senator Kamala Harris called out the lack of discussion about reproductive rights in the Democratic debates, arguing that abortion access impacts half the country’s population.

“I wanted to talk about the issue of choice, and I brought that up because it is literally impacting half of the women — half of the population — who are the women in our country,” Harris said. “And we have had six presidential debates and this has not been the topic of serious discussion.”

Earlier in the night, Harris became the first candidate to mention abortion during a 2019 Democratic primary debate. Moderators also raised the issue later in the night, prompting Cory Booker to say he’d create an office of reproductive freedom and rights if elected.

Victoria Albert

Warren ends debate with more speaking time than any other candidate

Julián Castro: “I never think I get enough time” on debate stage

Elizabeth Warren capped off the fourth Democratic debate with more speaking time than any other candidate. Over three hours, Warren spoke for approximately 23 minutes, 11 seconds. She was trailed by Joe Biden, who spoke for about 16 minutes.

Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’ Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg all spoke for about 13 minutes. Kamala Harris spoke for 12 minutes, 28 seconds, and Cory Booker spoke for 11 minutes, 50 seconds.

The remaining four candidates got under ten minutes of speaking time. Andrew Yang spoke for nearly nine minutes, and Julian Castro and Tulsi Gabbard clocked in at about 8 minutes, 30 seconds. Tom Steyer trailed the pack with 7 minutes, 15 seconds — less than one-third of Warren’s speaking time.

The candidates spent the most time discussing foreign policy, spending 22 minutes on Syria and Russia. Taxes, gun violence, and impeachment were also popular topics.

Victoria Albert

Inspired by Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush, candidates discuss unlikely friendships

10:45 p.m.: After Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush were recently spotted at a football game together, the moderators asked candidates to name a friendship they’ve forged with someone who might surprise viewers.

Castro didn’t name anyone, but noted he’s frequently had to develop relationships with people who aren’t like him.

Gabbard listed former GOP Representative Trey Gowdy as someone who has been there for her in challenging times.

Klobuchar mentioned the late Senator John McCain. The two traveled all over the world together, she said. Klobuchar said Americans need to stop looking at their phones and start talking to each other.

Steyer launched into what was essentially a closing statement, saying he will take on the biggest problems and corporations in the country.

O’Rourke mentioned his road trip with GOP Congressman Will Hurd, which the two live-streamed in 2017.

Booker mentioned his relationship with Ted Cruz, before emphasizing that the U.S. is founded on placing patriotism above differences.

Yang noted he’s going to be answering questions for 10 hours from voters on Friday. Then, he mentioned a friendship he forged with a Trump-supporting trucker named Fred, who after spending hours with Yang in his truck, said he would switch his support from Mr. Trump to Yang.

Harris mentioned Kentucky’s GOP Senator Rand Paul, after the two worked together on a bill to reform bail practices. Harris said she and Paul agree on little, but they agree on that.

Sanders mentioned Republican Sen. Mike Lee as someone he worked with on the Yemen War Powers Resolution.

Biden, too, mentioned Senator John McCain, although that friendship was relatively well known. Biden called McCain “honorable,” adding he’s running to restore the soul of the country. Mr. Trump has ripped the soul out of the country, he said.

Kathryn Watson

Biden hits Warren and Sanders for being “vague”

10:30 p.m.: Biden criticized Warren and Sanders for being “vague” in their plans, including on paying for Medicare for All.

“We’ve got to level with people,” Biden said, adding that while he may offend people, he believes that he is “the only one on this stage who’s gotten anything really big done.”

“The question is, who is best prepared. We all have good ideas,” Biden said.

Sanders hit back, saying “as a friend” that Biden was partially responsible for the war in Iraq and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Warren also took offense at the idea that she has not gotten anything done, citing the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was her brainchild.

Biden noted that he supported the CFPB, and lobbied for it to be passed in Congress.

“I went on the floor and got you votes,” Biden said.

“I am deeply grateful to President Obama who fought so hard” to make sure the CFPB was created, Warren replied.

“You did a hell of a job in your job,” Biden said.

“Thank you,” Warren responded.

— Grace Segers

Supreme Court “packing” divides the stage

10:27 p.m.: Biden said he wouldn’t support “court packing,” since a Republican president could reside in the White House again in the future.

Buttigieg reiterated his desire to increase the number of justices from nine to 15.

Castro said he doesn’t support increasing the number of justices on the court.

– Grace Segers and Kathryn Watson

Abortion is brought up by moderators for first time in all debates

10:20 p.m.: Moderator Erin Burnett asked candidates about access to abortions in states which have passed stringent restrictions on abortions. Ohio, where the debate is being held, recently passed a law which restricted abortions past six weeks.

Harris said that her Justice Department would ensure that any state law which contradicted with Roe v. Wade would not be enforced. She gave an impassioned defense of women’s abortion rights.

“It is her body, it is her right, it is her decision,” Harris said.

Klobuchar argued that 75% of women want to keep Roe v. Wade on the books, and she said she’d fund Planned Parenthood again. She took the opportunity to directly slam Mr. Trump, criticizing him for saying during the campaign that doctors who perform abortions should be jailed, and she pointed out that the law passed in Alabama would do just that.

“You, Donald Trump, are not on the side of women,” Klobuchar said.

Booker said that he would create an “Office of Reproductive Freedom and Reproductive Rights” as president, adding that he would work to codify Roe v. Wade through congressional action.

Gabbard said that she believed there should be some restrictions in place, including prohibiting abortion in the third trimester unless there is risk to the mother.

— Grace Segers

Warren, Biden speak more than any other candidates

Elizabeth Warren continued to dominate the debate stage in the second hour, speaking more in the first two hours than any other candidate. Warren spoke for a total of 14 minutes, 44 seconds, and Biden spoke for almost 11 minutes.

Bernie Sanders, who spoke often in the first hour, fell behind Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg, who all spoke for approximately nine minutes total. Sanders spoke for 8 minutes, 33 seconds.

Tom Steyer spoke for the briefest amount of time — 4 minutes, 45 seconds — followed by Julian Castro and Andrew Yang.

The debate’s second hour focused on foreign policy: candidates spent 22 minutes debating policy related to Syria and Russia. Candidates also discussed gun violence, the opioid epidemic, and the age of Sanders, Biden, and Warren.

Victoria Albert

Candidates debate breaking up big tech

10:06 p.m.: Warren, who has pushed to break up tech companies in the past, said she isn’t going to let a handful of companies denigrate the U.S. economy and democracy.

Booker suggested everyone should see the serious problems posed by big tech, particularly allowing for the spread of disinformation such as during the 2016 presidential election.

O’Rourke said he doesn’t think it’s the role of the president to call out which companies should be broken up.

Harris said the president is using his Twitter platform to “obstruct justice,” and his Twitter account should be taken down.

“This is a matter of corporate responsibility,” Harris said.

Warren said she doesn’t want to just push Mr. Trump out of Twitter, she wants to push him out of the White House.

— Kathryn Watson

Sanders: “I’m healthy. I’m feeling great.”

9:52 p.m.: Sanders interrupted moderator Erin Burnett when she began to ask him a question about his health. Sanders had a heart attack and received two stents earlier this month, and the debate marks his official return to campaigning.

“I’m healthy. I’m feeling great,” Sanders said. After Booker noted that Sanders supports legalizing medical marijuana, Sanders said that he did support it, but that he was not using it tonight.

Sanders said that his upcoming rally in Queens, New York, was proof that he was capable of serving as president. He also thanked supporters and fellow candidates for their well wishes amid his health struggle.

Biden, who would turn 80 while in office if elected, argued that his age was not a major factor in his electability — his significant political experience, he argued, should be the main consideration.

“I know what has to be done. I’ve done it before,” Biden said. “I will not need any on-the-job training on the day I take office.” He also promised to release his medical records before the Iowa caucus.

Warren, who would be 71 on inauguration day if elected, also argued that age was not a factor in her ability to successfully campaign.

“I will outwork, out-organize, and outlast anyone,” Warren said.

Grace Segers

Candidates on tackling the opioid epidemic

9:44 p.m.: With drug overdoses killing tens of thousands of Americans each year, Klobuchar said the very people who should pay for treatment are the pharmaceutical companies that fueled the opioid epidemic. Klobuchar brought up the story of her father, who was an alcoholic “pursued by grace.”

Steyer said the opioid epidemic is one of the most “heartbreaking” situations in America.

“I think we have to treat this as a health crisis,” Steyer said, adding that this situation is yet another example of the “corporate stranglehold” on government.

O’Rourke agreed that decriminalizing opioids is a part of the solution.

Harris, a former prosecutor, said she’s in favor of throwing drug manufacturers in jail. They’re simply high-level “dope dealers,” she said.

— Kathryn Watson

Elizabeth Warren speaks almost twice as much as any other candidate in first hour of debate

Michael Bennet: “I’m concerned” about lack of moderates on debate stage

9:38 p.m.: Elizabeth Warren dominated the first hour of the debate, speaking almost twice as long as any other candidate. Warren spoke for an estimated 11 minutes, 11 seconds. Bernie Sanders, who spoke for the second-highest amount of time, only talked for 5 minutes, 37 seconds.

Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Cory Booker rounded out the top five, each speaking for approximately five minutes.

Tulsi Gabbard spoke for the briefest amount of time — 1 minute, 52 seconds — followed by Tom Steyer, who spoke for just over two minutes.

Taxes dominated the conversation, taking up about 17 minutes of the candidates’ speaking time. Impeachment, jobs, and healthcare were also popular topics. Candidates spent four minutes discussing Hunter Biden.

— Victoria Albert

Buttigieg and O’Rourke spar on guns

Beto O’Rourke’s campaign manager talks Trump impeachment and candidate’s debate prep

9:31 p.m.: O’Rourke was questioned about saying in the last debate that “hell yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15s.” Moderator Anderson Cooper asked O’Rourke how he would ensure that Americans who owned assault-style weapons would cooperate with a mandatory buyback, and wondered how he would figure out who exactly had such a gun.

“If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47 … then that weapon will be taken from them,” O’Rourke said. “The expectation is that Americans will follow the law.”

Buttigieg challenged O’Rourke on mandatory buybacks, saying it was clear that O’Rourke did not have a plan for how he would enforce mandatory buybacks.

“We cannot wait for purity tests, we have to get something done,” Buttigieg said. He also jabbed O’Rourke by saying: “I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.”

Klobuchar, asked why she doesn’t support a mandatory buyback of assault-style weapons, said that while she’d push for an assault weapons ban and limits on magazine size if she’s elected president, for now, she argued it’s best to move forward with measures like background checks, which have the public’s support. “I just don’t want to screw this up.”

Grace Segers

Candidates are asked how they’d check Putin’s power

9:21 p.m.: Booker was first asked how he would check Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power as Putin fills the power vacuum on the world stage.

Booker said the U.S. cannot allow Russia to increase its influence by abandoning the world stage.

“Russia and Putin understand strength and this president, time and time again is showing moral weakness,” Booker said.

Biden said he’s spent time alone with Putin and understands him. And Mr. Trump, Biden suggested, is dangerous for the future of America’s place on the world stage — and for the world stage.

“There will be no NATO if Trump wins again,” Biden warned.

Yang said the U.S. needs to look at how the country arrived here. He said the Russian hacking of the U.S. democracy illustrates the 21st century threats the U.S. needs to address head-on. U.S. leaders are “decades behind the curve” on technology.

Klobuchar said the U.S. and Russia are not on the same moral plane, after Yang suggested the U.S. has also interfered in foreign elections.

— Kathryn Watson

Candidates discuss drawdown of troops in northeastern Syria

Michael Bennet: Turkey is “acting against our interest” in the Middle East

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

Why impeachment is a critical topic on the debate stage

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

US-VOTE-2020-DEMOCRATS-DEBATE
(From L) Democratic presidential hopefuls, Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard, Billionaire and philanthropist Tom Steyer, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, California Senator Kamala Harris, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Representative for Texas Beto O’Rourke, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro arrive on stage for the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. y NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

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

Dayton Mayor on what topics Democrats should discuss at Ohio debate

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.

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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

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