Politics

Democratic Debate Gets Personal As Candidates Go For The Jugular

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Peter Hasson Senior Reporter
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The Democratic presidential debate Thursday night quickly turned personal, as candidates took turns hammering each other on their vulnerabilities.

Joe Biden’s memory, Elizabeth Warren’s expensive plans, and Bernie Sanders’s socialism all turned into political footballs over the course of the debate.

Andrew Yang’s proposal in his opening statement to give 10 Americans $12,000 each drew laughs from his fellow Democrats. “It’s original, I’ll give you that,” Pete Buttigieg said with a smirk.

Biden went on the offensive against Warren early on, saying she “has not said how she would pay for [her health care plan].”

Amy Klobuchar slammed the Medicare for All bill supported by Sanders and Warren, flipping one of Sanders’s go-to lines back on him. Sanders may have written “the [damn] bill, but I read it,” the Minnesota senator said, noting that their plan would cause Americans to lose their private health insurance.

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) interact on stage during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Texas Southern University (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Buttigieg jumped on Warren and Sanders as well, saying Medicare for All “doesn’t trust the American people” to make their own decisions.

Biden took a shot at Sanders’s socialist beliefs while bashing the Vermont senator’s health care plan.

“For a socialist, you’ve got a lot more faith in corporate America than I do,” Biden said, hitting Sanders on his claim that corporations would provide partial refunds of health care premiums. (RELATED: Bernie First Candidate To Violate ABC’s Warning Against Swearing)

“You’ve got to defend the fact that 500,000 Americans are going bankrupt,” Bernie shot back, accusing Biden of not doing enough to ensure universal health care during President Barack Obama’s administration.

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Castro took a veiled shot at Biden’s age, accusing him of forgetting that voters would have to buy into his health care plan.

“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro asked the 76-year-old former vice president. “Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago? I can’t believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in, and now you’re saying they don’t have to buy in. You’re forgetting that.”

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Castro pounced again after Biden answered a question about deportations during the Obama administration by saying, “I’m the vice president of the United States.”

“He wants to take credit for Obama’s work, but not answer any questions,” Castro said.

Candidates also went aggressively after President Donald Trump on racial issues.

Castro, Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris each linked Trump to last month’s mass shooting in El Paso, though the shooter specifically said he wasn’t inspired by Trump.

“Look, a few weeks ago, a shooter drove 10 hours inspired by this president to kill people who look like me and people who look like my family,” Castro said. “White supremacy is a growing threat to this country, and we have to root it out.”

“Obviously [Trump] didn’t pull the trigger, but he certainly been tweeting out the ammunition,” said Harris.

O’Rourke similarly referred to the mass shooting as a “consequence of [Trump’s] presidency.”

Buttigieg also linked Trump supporters to racism, following a question from left-wing Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. “Do you think people who support President Trump and his immigration policies are racist?” Ramos asked.

“Anyone who supports this is supporting racism,” Buttigieg said.

O’Rourke also doubled down on his support for gun confiscation programs. “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore,” he said.

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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