The largest presidential debate in history took place on Tuesday at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Twelve Democratic candidates, headlined by frontrunners Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, argued their case for the Democratic nomination to more than 1,500 people in attendance and the rest of the country following live on television.
The debate was co-hosted by CNN and the New York Times and moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett along with National Editor of the Times Mark Lacey. Tom Perez, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, also helped to organize the event and gave the opening speech.
With no opening statements from the candidates, the debate began with Cooper asking each candidate if they believed Donald Trump should be impeached. Warren was the first to answer, citing the report delivered to Congress by former Federal Bureau of Investigation Chief Robert Mueller, which detailed President Trump’s possible collusion with the Russian government as the motivation for her stance that impeachment was necessary. Warren ended her answer passionately, stating, “impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences … the impeachment must go forward.”
The vast majority of the other candidates on stage were in agreement. Senator Bernie Sanders and Biden both declared Trump “the most corrupt President in modern history.”
The debate then transitioned into a heated discussion over healthcare. Progessive candidates like Warren and Sanders argued heavily for a Medicare For All system, while other candidates like Biden, fmr. Congressman Beto O’Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg countered with their own ideas — such as Buttigieg’s “Medicare for All Who Want It.”
After the talk of health care, the debate transitioned into discussions of the Ohio economy and gun violence, and then concluded with a question on friendship following the controversy surrounding Ellen DeGeneres attending a football game with former President George W. Bush.
After the debate, some of the candidates entered the spin room— the room in which reporters and news broadcasts interview the candidates who feel they need to “spin” audience opinions on their debate performances.
In the spin room, O’Rourke criticized Warren’s health care plan. “If you make $250,000 as a family or less, you will not see a tax increase in any year of my administration. Under a Warren administration it is unclear right now—she refused to answer the question,” O’Rourke said. “She failed to [be forthcoming] tonight, and she’s failed to do that in previous debates. And I think on an issue as important as health care, and an issue as important as taxes on the middle class, this country deserves to hear the truth.” Warren, on the other hand, assured viewers that she would “not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle class families.”
Businessman Andrew Yang, who spoke to the Collegian on the spin room floor, discussed his plan to reinvigorate the economy.
“To me, the core reason why Donald Trump [is] our president today is that our economy has evolved in ways that have left millions of Americans behind, so the way we come together is by actually making our economy work for us, through a dividend of $1,000 a month for every American,” Yang said. “$12,000 a year will be a game changer for tens of millions of American families.”
Speaking times varied greatly between candidates. Warren spoke for the longest amount of time at 22 minutes and 47 seconds, while entrepreneur Tom Steyer spoke for only seven minutes and 13 seconds in his first debate appearance. Also towards the top were Biden, another frontrunner, and Senator Amy Klobuchar, who polls at only 1.6 percent.
Noticeably absent from the debate were questions regarding climate change, campaign finance reform and immigration. The next Democratic presidential debate is scheduled to take place on Nov. 20 in Atlanta, Ga. It will be hosted by the Washington Post and MSNBC.