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Key Takeaways From The Second Democratic Debate: Night Two

Last night, the other half of the Democratic presidential candidates took the NBC stage, presenting, arguing, and advocating for their plans and ideas to tackle the issues that currently burden the United States. These candidates include Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Yang, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden.

Watch the full debate below.

To break it down, here are some of the key points addressed in last night’s debate.


While every candidate generally shared similar beliefs about healthcare with one another, there were multiple disagreements about the issue. With Senator Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare For All” bill, the conversation created quite a stir. Although some candidates such as Sanders advocated to abandon all private health insurance and establish a public healthcare system, others such as Buttigieg believed a portion of the private health insurance sector could stay, allowing “Medicare For All” to stay up for grabs for anyone who wanted a portion of the insurance. On the other hand, former Vice President Biden pushed for the creation of a new healthcare system that was built off the backbone of ObamaCare — an act Biden helped Obama with when the latter was still president. However, when the moderators asked the candidates who were willing to give up their private health insurance for a public healthcare system, only candidates Harris, Sanders, and Biden raised their hand.

Income Inequality

Another topic that was heavily discussed between the candidates last night was income inequality within the lower and working class. Once again, almost every candidate shared similar beliefs, agreeing that the issue was something that needed to be fixed, the presidential hopefuls had different ideas on how to combat the problem. Congressman Eric Swalwell proposed terminating student debt and modernizing schools, allowing the current generation to “pass the torch to the new generation”, reducing the income inequality by educating and bettering our future leaders. Biden had similar plans such as creating universal pre-K and increasing the fundraising for distressed public schools while eliminating Trump’s tax cuts on the wealthy class. Yang, however, proposed providing $1,000 a month to every adult by forcing big corporations such as Amazon to pay its taxes. For a brief moment, Hickenlooper’s anti-socialist take clashed with Bernie’s democratic socialist views as they quarrelled about the best method to provide health coverage while standing up for the middle class. Arguably, this topic created the biggest divide among the candidates during the debate.


Amid recent news of the border crisis, immigration was heavily debated among the presidential hopefuls. Senator Harris provided a plan to reinstate protection for DACA as well as their parents and other undocumented veterans while vying for the removal of children from the detentions on the southern border. Senator Gillibrand wanted to reform asylum for seekers by giving them proper immigration lawyers, while properly funding border security by diverting the money to creating detentions back to decreasing trafficking. Biden argued to unite the families separated at the border, offering 740 million dollars to manage immigration after President Trump elevated the crisis. On the contrary, Sanders and Williamson pushed to use diplomacy to abate the corruption and violence within Latin countries so the influx of immigrants seeking asylum would also decrease as a result. Almost every candidate except Bennet agreed that undocumented immigration was a civil offense, not a criminal one. For the most part, the presidential hopefuls disagreed with the way the government is handling immigration within the United States, and believe taking action is necessary to stabilize and abate the crisis.

Russia and China

While China was brought up by the moderators, the candidates managed to divert the topic to Russia, with only a few candidates that spoke. Bennet believes that Russia holds a bigger threat because of the 2016 election. On China, however, Bennet believes America has to mobilize the rest of the world in order to push back China’s trade policies. Yang seconded Bennet on Russia, believing they will hack our democracy if no action is taken. Buttigieg argued that China is using its advanced technology in order to strengthen their dictatorship, thus meaning that we need to strengthen our democracy in order to hold a stronger front to China.


With South Bend’s recent police shooting involving the death of Eric Logan, Buttigieg landed in hot water as he admitted he did not do enough to tackle police brutality in his city. Hickenlooper and Swalwell dived into the conversation by arguing the police officers responsible for the shootings needed to be held accountable for their racism. Harris pitched in with the discussion of bussing, prompting Biden to defend his pro-bussing record during his time in the Senate. Harris continued by demanding police officers keep their cameras on while demanding bills such as the Equality Act must be passed now, all the while holding a sense of urgency. Collectively, the presidential hopefuls all agreed through that police brutality was an issue that needed to be addressed, but there was no consensus on how this issue was to be solved.


Abortion was briefly debated among candidates such as Sanders and Gillibrand, while the moderators interrogated them on what they would do if Roe v. Wade was repealed. Sanders proposed the plan to rotate judges between the state courts, promising he would never approve any judge that would oppose Roe v. Wade. Moreover, Sanders plans to use “Medicare For All” in order to reassure abortion will still be covered. Gillibrand challenged the other candidates by stating she has been fighting hard for women’s reproductive rights for a decade. It seems that overall the candidates on stage supported abortion and generally shared the same views.

Climate Change

While only a few candidates spoke up, the candidates came to a general consensus that climate change was an issue that needed action. The climate change conversation kicked off with Harris announcing her support for the Green New Deal. Buttigieg stated that they needed to take “aggressive measures” by taking it to local leaders and calling a summit to fix rural America. Biden, on the other hand, pushed for a transfer to electrical energy in order to abate climate change’s effects, offering 400 million dollars, thus creating a greener economy and more jobs for the working class. Once again, no agreement was reached on one solution, however, the candidates that spoke about the issue believed climate change needed action.

What is the First Issue You Will Cover as President?

Swalwell: Gun violence

Bennet: Climate change and economic mobility

Gillibrand: Leave and work plan for women, universal pre-K

Harris: DACA, guns, tax cuts for the middle class

Sanders: Take on big corporations

Biden: Climate change, defeat Trump

Buttigieg: Fixing America’s democracy

Yang: 1,000 dollar dividend for each adult

Hickenlooper: Collaborative approach to climate change, stopping Trump

Williamson: Creating the best place for a child to grow up


The candidates reached a general consensus that the United States is in dire need for action on gun violence, but no argument in the discussion seemed to reach fruition. Swalwell’s plan involved taking out the NRA by banning and buying back the assault weapons, thus getting rid of approximately 15 million guns. Harris, on one hand, urged Congress to take action and stated she would take executive action within 100 days of her presidency, implementing comprehensive background checks and banning the importation of guns. Needless to say, while the candidates are aware of the gun issue in America, the solution still seemed to remain unclear and undecided among the candidates.

What is the First Alliance You Would Reset as President?

Williamson: Europe and the Western Alliance

Hickenlooper: China

Yang: China, North Korea

Buttigieg: Entire World

Biden: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Sanders: Trust with the United Nations

Harris: Every Member in the NATO Alliance

Gillibrand: Iran

Bennet: Latin American Countries

Swalwell: Break up with Russia, make-up with NATO

The Middle East

When asked why voters should trust Biden after his regretful decision in voting for an Iraq war, Biden proposed to remove troops in Afghanistan and rebuild foreign alliances to focus on terrorism and ISIS. Sanders pitched in by stating he led the opposition against the Iraq war while stating he aided the effort in taking the United States out of the Saudi Arabian intervention that ultimately catalyzed Yemen’s famine. He continued by stating he would prevent, in any way possible, a war with Iran. Biden and Sanders were the only candidates that spoke about the Middle East during this time, so an agreement from the candidates on how to tackle the political corruption, famine, and war in the Middle East is still unclear among the candidates.

How the Candidates Did

Author Marianne Williamson and former tech executive Andrew Yang were hardly taken seriously by the audience, and although candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Eric Swalwell held their ground, it’s unlikely their poll numbers would grow. Colorado locals John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet both took jabs at Bernie Sanders, who struggled to create sharp responses in time for their criticisms. Experts weighing in on the debate agree Kamala Harris won the presidential debate, breaking out into the mainstream conversation with Pete Buttigieg trailing at her feet. According to the experts, frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders struggled to maintain their ground as the stronger newcomers zoned in on criticizing their proposals. Yesterday, the diversity within the Democratic party was in full bloom with the moderate and the progressive wings of the party taking swipes at one another. Overall, night two of the presidential debate narrowed down the pool of presidential candidates, giving voters a clearer idea who’s ready and who’s not to become president in 2020.

Image: CNN

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