Democratic debates 2019 live updates: In Detroit, Democrats face off for night two of second primary debates – live updates

Democratic debates 2019 live updates: In Detroit, Democrats face off for night two of second primary debates - live updates


Ten more Democratic presidential hopefuls are on stage for the second night of the debate in Detroit, with former Vice President Joe Biden coming under scrutiny from challengers hoping to put a dent in his status as the frontrunner.

He and Kamala Harris immediately challenged each other on the merits of their competing health care plans, kicking off a series of substantive exchanges about “Medicare for All” and various pathways to achieving universal coverage.

Biden also came under fire for his position on immigration and the Obama administration’s record on deportations, as well as his record on criminal justice. But he appeared well-equipped to rebut most of his challengers’ criticisms, showing familiarity with their competing proposals and records.

Follow along below for the key moments from Wednesday’s Democratic primary debate.

Watch CBSN for live coverage during and after the debate

​Harris says she wouldn’t “direct” DOJ to prosecute Trump

10:22 p.m.: Harris, pressed on previous comments about prosecuting the president for obstruction of justice, said she’d never “direct” the Justice Department to prosecute Mr. Trump. But Mueller outlined 10 clear instances of obstruction of justice in his report that cannot be ignored, she said.

2020 Democratic primary debates

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“There are 10 clear incidents of obstruction of justice by this president, and he needs to be held accountable,” Harris said. “I’ve seen people go to prison for far less.”

Booker said impeachment proceedings need to begin immediately, politics “be damned.”

Castro said he agrees no president should “direct” such a prosecution, but that the prosecution of Mr. Trump on obstruction charges is likely.

— Kathryn Watson

​Gillibrand challenges Biden over positions on working women

10:15 p.m.: Gillibrand challenged Biden over an opinion piece he wrote in 1981 opposing a bill to provide a tax credit to help parents pay for child care. Gillibrand quoted Biden as writing that the bill would cause the “deterioration” of family.

“That was a long time ago,” Biden said. He said his opposition to the bill was because it provided a tax credit to wealthier Americans. He also noted he had long been an advocate for women’s rights, and Gillibrand had previously praised him for his advocacy during an appearance at an event together.

“I don’t know what’s happened except that you’re now running for president,” Biden said, about Gillibrand’s newfound criticism of his positions.

Harris also targeted Biden for his recent flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions.

— Grace Segers

​Biden says he wouldn’t rejoin TPP as written

10:09 p.m.: The former vice president said he would not rejoin the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership as it was written. Mr. Trump withdrew from the world’s largest free trade deal in 2017, declaring it one of the worst deals ever made.

“I would not rejoin TPP as it was initially put forward,” Biden said.

Instead, Biden said, he’d renegotiate TPP and pledged to include labor leaders at the bargaining table.

— Kathryn Watson

​Speaking times through second commercial break

10:04 p.m.: Through the second break, Biden has maintained his lead in speaking time, getting nearly three minutes more time than Harris. Times include crosstalk and interruptions, but don’t count opening statements:

  • Biden: 14 minutes, 47 seconds
  • Harris: 11 minutes, 53 seconds
  • Booker: 7 minutes, 54 seconds
  • Gillibrand: 6 minutes, 32 seconds
  • Inslee: 6 minute, 25 seconds
  • De Blasio: 5 minutes, 32 seconds
  • Castro: 5 minutes, 30 seconds
  • Gabbard: 5 minutes, 6 seconds
  • Yang: 4 minutes, 24 seconds

— Aaron Navarro

​Biden explains how he would beat Trump in Michigan

9:58 p.m.: When asked how he could defeat Mr. Trump in Michigan, Biden mined his experience aiding the state during the recession as vice president.

“I was part of the organization … that pushed bailing General Motors out, saving tens of thousands of jobs in this state,” Biden said. He added he had worked with the mayor of Detroit to try to revitalize the city, and noted that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan had endorsed him.

Booker argued he would be able to defeat Mr. Trump in Michigan by appealing to black voters and black women in particular, a demographic critical to the Democratic Party which saw low turnout in 2016.

“We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the state and suppressing the votes of African Americans,” Booker said.

— Grace Segers

​Trump tweets about debate

9:46 p.m.: The president appears to be watching:

— Kathryn Watson

​Gillibrand says the first thing she’d do as president is “Clorox the Oval Office”

9:43 p.m.: Gillibrand, pressed on the feasibility of the Green New Deal, which she has sponsored, started her answer with a dig at the current president.

“The first thing that I’m going to do when I’m president is I’m going to Clorox the Oval Office,” she said.

— Kathryn Watson

​Inslee challenges Biden on climate change

9:39 p.m.: Inslee criticized Biden for not going far enough in his proposals to combat climate change.

“Middle ground solutions like the vice president has proposed … are not going to save us,” Inslee said. “Too little, too late is too dangerous.”

Biden responded that there was “no middle ground to my plan,” saying his administration would immediate rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and invest $400 billion in research for combating climate change.

Yang took a slightly darker perspective, arguing it was already too late to successfully ward off the effects of climate change.

“We are 10 years too late,” Yang said, adding that the best strategy now was to “start moving our people to higher ground.”

Grace Segers

​Gabbard says Harris would make a “prosecutor president”

9:35 p.m.: Gabbard insisted people suffered under Harris’ “reign” as a prosecutor in California, citing various ways in which the senator, in her eyes, punished people unfairly.

“She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said, referencing a February radio interview in which Gabbard laughed about smoking pot in college.

Gabbard claimed Harris would be a “prosecutor president,” saying, “There are too many examples to cite.”

— Kathryn Watson

​Harris hits Biden about his positions on busing

9:23 p.m.: In a callback to their fiery exchange over busing in the first debate, Harris again criticized Biden for his opposition to busing as a senator in the early 1970s.

Harris also hit Biden over his comment that he should be trusted on criminal justice because he was chosen by Obama to serve as vice president, saying the segregationist senators whom Biden once praised would not have allowed Obama to become a senator in the first place.

Biden turned to Harris’ tenure as attorney general of California, saying she failed to bring cases against two deeply segregated school districts in California.

Harris was also slammed by Gabbard, who accused her of supporting disproportionately harsh penalties for marijuana offenders.

“When you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives, you did not,” Gabbard said.

— Grace Segers

​Booker and Biden face off over criminal justice records

9:15 p.m.: As the debate turned to criminal justice reform, Booker insisted Biden can’t distance himself from his past record on criminal justice reform, particularly his support for the 1994 crime bill that led to increased incarceration. Biden suggested Booker failed on criminal justice reform as mayor of Newark. Eventually, Booker hit back by saying he was “shocked” Biden wanted to compare records on criminal justice reform.

— Kathryn Watson

​Biden and Harris lead in speaking time

9:15 p.m.: Through the first commercial break, Biden and Harris spoke the most and fielded the most questions.

Here’s how much time each candidate got in the first portion of the debate, including crosstalk and interruptions, but not including opening statements:

  • Biden: 8 minutes, 27 seconds
  • Harris: 7 minutes, 16 seconds
  • Bennet: 3 minutes, 48 seconds
  • De Blasio: 3 minutes, 26 seconds
  • Booker: 3 minutes, 13 seconds
  • Gillibrand: 2 minutes, 39 seconds
  • Castro: 2 minutes, 29 seconds
  • Gabbard: 2 minutes, 14 seconds
  • Inslee: 1 minute, 47 seconds
  • Yang: 1 minutes, 7 seconds

— Aaron Navarro

Booker hits Biden for dodging question by invoking Obama

9:07 p.m.: De Blasio repeatedly questioned Biden about whether he opposed mass deportations of undocumented immigrants during the Obama administration. Biden demurred, saying he would not disclose private conversations he had with Obama as vice president.

Booker called Biden on his evasion by noting how often the former vice president invokes Obama’s legacy during campaign speeches.

“You can’t do it when it’s convenient and dodge it when it’s not,” Booker said about Biden’s repeated mentions of Obama.

Booker also hit Biden for his proposal to provide green cards for immigrants with advanced degrees, saying that immigrants without advanced degrees could also contribute to society.

“Some are from ‘sh–hole’ countries,” Booker said, referring to the term Mr. Trump once used to refer to third world countries.

— Grace Segers

​Candidates clash on border crossings and immigration

9:05 p.m.: Castro said he would repeal a part of U.S. code on unlawful border crossings.

Harris focused on the Trump administration’s handling of migrant children at the border, saying children “should not be treated like criminals” and highlighting her visit to a facility housing unaccompanied minors.

Bennet said one thing all candidates on the stage agree on is keeping families together. Not a single Democrat running for president would pry children from their parents, he said.

Gillibrand said she thinks about immigrants who had fled their countries for fear of violence. She said illegal border crossings should only be treated as civil violations.

Yang said immigrants are being “scapegoated” for problems that aren’t theirs, pointing to automation as a far greater concern in America.

Inslee said America shouldn’t allow a “white nationalist” to continue to be in the White House.

But it was Biden who had one of the starkest lines. The former vice president insisted asylum decisions need to be determined quickly, and Central American nations need more aid. But he drew a line that illegal immigration should stay illegal.

“The fact of the matter is if you cross the border illegally you should be able to be sent back, it’s a crime,” Biden said.

Castro hit back at Biden, alluding to a key challenge for Biden — overcoming his past. “Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one hasn’t.”

Inslee, too, alluded to Biden’s past, pointing out that Obama deported hundreds of thousands of immigrants in his time in office. Biden skirted around that reality, talking instead about how it was Obama’s idea to create protections for so-called “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as children with their parents.

— Kathryn Watson

​Protesters interrupt Biden to criticize deportation

8:57 p.m.: In the second audience outburst of the night, protesters interrupted Biden’s answer on deportations during the Obama presidency.

Audience members appeared to be chanting “3 million deportations.”

Grace Segers

​“A bunch of malarkey:” Biden defends criticism of Medicare for All

8:47 p.m.: Bennet, who supports adding a public option, criticized Medicare for All, saying: “It doesn’t make sense for us to take away insurance from half the people in this room and put huge taxes on almost everybody in this room.”

However, supporters of Medicare for All pushed back against the idea that it is too costly and unrealistic.

“I don’t understand why Democrats on this stage are fear-mongering on universal health care,” de Blasio said, specifically accusing Bennet of using Republican talking points.

Coming to the defense of the Affordable Care Act and adding a public option, Biden said it was “a bunch of malarkey” to say opposition to Medicare for All was a Republican concept.

— Grace Segers

​Gabbard takes a shot at Harris over health plan

Tulsi Gabbard delivers her opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit on July 31, 2019.

Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images

8:42 p.m.: Gabbard took a shot at Harris in the debate over health care coverage, after Harris noted former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius supports her proposal. Gabbard said that’s only because Sebelius stands to profit from the proposal, as Sebelius now works for a company providing Medicare Advantage plans.

— Kathryn Watson

​Biden and Harris pitch competing health care plans

8:35 p.m.: Biden and Harris immediately got into an argument over Harris’ newly announced plan for universal health care.

“I designed a plan where … there will be a public plan under my plan for Medicare and a private plan under my plan for Medicare,” Harris said.

Biden rejoined that the plan would be expensive, and not be fully implemented for 10 years.

“You can’t beat President Trump with double talk on this plan,” Biden said.

“Unfortunately Vice President Biden, you’re just simply inaccurate in what you’re describing,” Harris said.

“The plan, no matter how you cut it, costs $3 trillion,” Biden responded, noting it would also raise taxes on the middle class.

Biden argued his proposal would build on the Affordable Care Act. Harris noted that Kathleen Sebelius, who served as health and human services secretary in the Obama administration, supported her plan.

— Grace Segers

​Protesters interrupt Booker

8:33 p.m.: Protesters broke into Booker’s opening statement with chants of, “Fire Pantaleo,” a reference to the Staten Island police officer who was cleared in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in 2014 after Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold. The chants appeared to be aimed at de Blasio.

The protesters, according to those in the debate hall, were escorted outside.

— Kathryn Watson

​Candidates target Trump in opening statements

8:29 p.m.: Most candidates took aim at the current administration in their opening statements. Bennet charged that Mr. Trump “frankly doesn’t give a damn about your kids or mine,” while Gabbard said that the president “is not behaving as a patriot.”

Yang trotted out his popular line in his opening statement: “The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.”

Booker, whose statement was briefly interrupted by protesters, condemned Mr. Trump’s tweets targeting Rep. Elijah Cummings, a prominent black member of Congress.

Biden said that he was running to “restore the soul” of the country after Mr. Trump’s four-year term. He also highlighted the diversity of the candidates on stage.

“Mr. President, let’s get something straight. We love it, we are not leaving it, we are here to stay, and we are certainly not leaving it to you,” Biden said.

De Blasio criticized Biden and Harris by name, noting that Biden had promised wealthy donors that politics would not fundamentally change if he were elected.

“Kamala Harris says she’s not trying to restructure society. Well, I am,” de Blasio said, adding that he would “tax the hell” out of the rich.

— Grace Segers

​Biden to Harris: “Go easy on me, kid”

8:08 p.m.: Biden was the first to take the stage, followed by Harris.

When they greeted each other, Biden — who was blasted by Harris over school busing and race issues in last month’s debate — told her, “Go easy on me, kid.”

— Kathryn Watson

Who’s on stage?

8:05 p.m.: Candidates took the stage shortly after 8 p.m. and will get one minute for opening statements before taking questioning begins.

Here’s where they’re standing, from left to right:

De Blasio plans to roll out wealth tax

7:40 p.m.: The New York mayor plans to announce a tax reform plan in Wednesday night’s debate that he’ll tout as the most aggressive tax proposal of any presidential candidate in the race, according to spokesperson Jaclyn Rothenberg. The taxes would bring in an additional $1 trillion a year, she told CBS News.

He “would go farther than any other 2020 candidate to reshape society,” Rothenberg said in a statement that took aim at Warren and Sanders’ own tax plans.

De Blasio, who has been pitching himself as a candidate looking out for working people, has struggled to this point to attract attention amid the popularity of better-known populist candidates.

Read more about the proposal here.

— Zak Hudak

How to watch the debate

Wednesday’s matchup could show more confrontation between leading candidates, as they fight to raise their profiles — along with their polling numbers and donor figures — so they can make it to the next round, when the party’s higher thresholds for both these categories kicks in.

How to watch the second 2020 Democratic debate

Second Democratic debate rules

According to CNN, candidates will have 60 seconds to answer questions from the moderators and 30 seconds for rebuttals and responses. Candidates at the debate will deliver opening statements and closing remarks.

— Grace Segers

Biden debate guests include mayor of Flint, Michigan

5:21 p.m.: Biden’s guests to the debate include allies of his campaign and mayors of major cities. A campaign aide told CBS News that the following guests will be attending the debate:

  • Rep. Cedric Richmond, Biden’s campaign co-chair
  • Sen. Chris Coons
  • Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta, Georgia
  • Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela
  • Karen Weaver, mayor of Flint, Michigan
  • Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP
  • Kellie Nelson and Amanda Bolt, Debate Contest Winners from Charlotte, North Carolina

Biden has been criticized by Booker and Harris for his previous stances on busing and criminal justice issues. His guest list to the debate includes several prominent black politicians, whose appearances could bolster his support among black voters. Biden’s invitation of Weaver, the mayor of Flint, indicates that he wants to raise awareness about the lack of access to clean water still plaguing the majority-black city.

— Bo Erickson and Grace Segers

Harris releases “Medicare for All” proposal ahead of second Democratic debate

4:29 p.m.: Harris, who has spent some time clarifying her stance on “Medicare for All,” is now proposing her own version of the single-payer insurance plan. She’ll remain a co-sponsor of the bill introduced by Sanders, a campaign spokesperson said.

But there are key differences between Harris’ plan and that of the Vermont senator: Harris has proposed to double the transition period from the current health care system to the single-payer system, to reduce Sanders’ proposed tax on middle-class families to pay for the plan, and she would allow private insurance companies to offer Medicare options.

Harris’ plan would immediately give Americans the option of buying into a Medicare system. It would allow for Medicare for All to cover services like emergency room visits, hearing aids and substance abuse treatment.

The plan also calls for an audit of prescription drug costs. Harris is proposing a 10-year phase-in period, as opposed to Sanders’ plan, which called for a four-year transition. Her plan would automatically enroll newborns and uninsured individuals.

The Harris campaign said that extending the transition period would decrease the overall cost of Medicare for All, but it did not specify what that new estimated cost would be. Sanders estimates that his plan could cost up to $40 trillion over a decade.

— Stephanie Ramirez

Biden hoping to keep focus on Trump in debate

3:22 p.m.: Biden is hoping to keep the focus tonight on President Trump, but will not resist aggressively defending his record if confronted by fellow Democrats.

Biden is prepared to “take it Donald Trump and to not take any attacks on his record lying down,” a senior campaign official told reporters Wednesday afternoon ahead of the debate. “You’ll hear him articulate a strong case for why Donald Trump’s leaderships has been a failure for working-class people. Why it’s been a failure on the world stage.”

During the debate, Biden hopes to “make a case for transformational change in this country” and hopes to make the point that “consensus can’t be a dirty word and you have to work together to make change,” said the aide.

“You will certainly see him talk about some of the significant differences in the field,” the aide added. “Obviously, health care is one of them.”

Campaign aides refused to answer questions about how exactly Biden has been preparing — and wouldn’t even say which family members are in Detroit to watch the debate. But, they assured reporters that Biden “took prep very seriously.”

— Ed O’Keefe and Caitlin Conant

CNN sees steep drop in ratings from second debate

3:07 p.m.: Approximately 8.7 million viewers watched the first night of the second debate on Tuesday, a steep drop from the first Democratic debate in June. CNN also announced that 2.8 million people watched via live stream.

The debates in June, which aired on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, garnered 15.3 million viewers across networks on the first night, and 18.1 million viewers on the second night. More than 9 million viewers watched the first debates via live stream.

Tonight’s debate will feature two of the most high profile candidates, Harris and Biden, so ratings may once again go up for the second night.

Update, 7:15 p.m.: Later in the day, the president tweeted his take on the less-than-stellar ratings:

— Grace Segers

Sanders hauls in $1.1 million after Tuesday debate

2:41 p.m.: The Sanders campaign is hailing a victory after it reported a haul of $1.1 million and more than 70,000 contributions from small-dollar donors since Tuesday.

Sanders’ campaign manager credits the candidate’s breakout performance during Tuesday night’s debate for the fundraising milestone.

“Bernie Sanders commanded the debate, his vision and ideas dominated the stage, and he left absolutely no doubt that he is the best candidate ready to take this fight to Donald Trump and finally bring the change we need to America,” said Campaign Manager Faiz Shakir.

“Bernie Sanders stood out as a champion of working people and marginalized communities.”

The fundraising feat is nothing to scoff at either as candidates must pass even stricter thresholds to make the September debate stage.

A spokesperson for O’Rourke said that his campaign had the biggest fundraising day of the quarter after the debate, but declined to release any additional numbers.

— Emily Tillett

Warren, Sanders come out on top during Tuesday’s debate

The audience at Detroit’s Fox Theatre roared with applause for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two of the top contenders for the nomination.

Meanwhile, bottom-tier candidates like John Delaney, Tim Ryan and John Hickenlooper struggled to land their punches and connect with the audience, often choosing to attack Sanders and Warren rather than train their fire on the current administration.

Warren and Sanders emerged largely unscathed, having vigorously defended their proposals while upbraiding their opponents for failing to embrace bold policy positions.

“You know, I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” Warren said, in one of the defining moments of the evening.

— Emily Tillett

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