Democrats had their first debate of 2020 and their last before the Iowa caucuses.
The Iowa caucuses – happening in just 19 days – set the stage for the rest of the primary season. Most Dem candidates who've won Iowa in recent decades have gone on to be the party's nominee. So while the state doesn't give candidates a ton of delegates – and is significantly less diverse than the rest of the electorate – it's the prize candidates were going after last night.
Five top candidates – and billionaire Tom Steyer – were on stage for the seventh of 12 Dem debates. There were the moderates: former VP Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and former South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg. And the progressives: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Also, Steyer. All six faced off to make their case to the American public – and especially to Iowa voters. And covered topics including:
Iran…as in the key issue after tensions reached a fever pitch last week. The split last night was between those who'd pull US troops from the region – Sanders and Warren – and those who think we may need the backup, like Biden, Klobuchar, and Buttigieg. Some made it clear that Iran shouldn't have nuclear weapons. But no one on the stage is interested in war with Iran.
Trade...as in a big topic for Iowa, whose biggest trading partners are Canada and Mexico. Moderates like Buttigieg and Klobuchar support President Trump's new trade deal with the two countries. Warren called it a "modest improvement." Sanders said trade agreements are designed to maximize corporate profits. And Steyer said he wouldn't sign anything that puts climate in the back seat.
Health care…as in what they've been sparring over since day one. Sanders and Warren think Medicare for All is a cure for all. Biden and Klobuchar want to build on Obamacare. And Buttigieg wants you to have all the options.
Education...as in its price tag. Nearly all the candidates agreed there needs to be more affordable child care. Buttigieg says this will help address the gender pay gap. Klobuchar and Steyer said funds need to be redistributed to help lower-income families.
Definitely not diversity. While the debate stage started out as one of the most diverse in history, it's whittled down to six white candidates getting the primetime spot. Warren did point out that the only two people on stage who've won each election they've been in are...women. So at least there's that.
As the list of candidates dwindles, the pressure for a clear frontrunner is growing. But with no clear winner last night, it'll be up to Iowans to give their first impression rose on February 3rd.
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