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Eight Surprises From the First Democratic Debate

3 ¼ min

This year the Democratic Party has a paltry few candidates running for president. Twenty-five to be exact.

Twenty of them are a part of the first debate in Miami, which has been broken up into two days – June 26 and June 27 – with ten candidates each day. Here are eight, somewhat unexpected, occurrences from the first round:

1. The Amount of Spanish Spoken – Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, and moderator Jose Diaz-Balart all spoke in Spanish during the debate. A couple of the candidates speaking in the second round on June 27 joked about learning Spanish for their time on stage.

2. Tulsi Gabbard’s success Tulsi Gabbard won the most online polls and was the most searched candidate during the debate. This happened particularly when Gabbard corrected Tim Ryan by pointing out that “the Taliban didn’t attack the U.S. … Al-Qaeda did,” referencing the U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Gabbard’s campaign primarily focuses on ending America’s participation in foreign wars. As such, she seeks to shift spending away from the military and towards domestic projects. 

3. Julian Castro’s Proposal – When the immigration issue came up, Castro separated himself from the crowd by proposing the repeal of section 1325 of the Federal code. If Castro’s proposal was implemented, crossing the border would be treated as a civil infraction, not a Federal misdemeanor. In effect, foreigners illegally entering the U.S. would not be detained, but simply released into the country at large.

4. No Mention of Joe Biden – Since Biden is the front runner – polling above 30 percent, viewers likely expected him to be attacked or at least mentioned. Yet, Biden didn’t even receive a whisper.

5. Little Mention of President Trump – Trump was barely mentioned during the debate.  When the incumbent President was talked about, it was generally only a quick reference to his belligerent character. Trump made himself known on Twitter, however, making fun of NBC for the embarrassing technical errors during the debate, and to slap a label on the spectacle: “BORING.”

6. The Relative Civility – There were hardly any altercations between candidates on the debate stage, and none of them were very serious. Perhaps Democrat voters may not like boisterousness as much as the Republican base does? 

7. The Split on Healthcare – One major defining moment of the debate concerned health care. When asked who was willing to eliminate private insurance in favor of a government-run plan, only Bill de Blasio and Elizabeth Warren raised their hands. The other eight candidates agreed to create solutions for universal health care coverage for all Americans while retaining the option for private insurance. 

8. The Congruity – Overall, the Democratic candidates had few disagreements. Despite the differences between radicals and moderates, they all seemed to be pursuing the same ends. The only way candidates could stand out from the crowd was to correct someone for their lack of "inclusivity."  Amy Klobuchar, for example, hit back at Governor Inslee when he asserted he was the only person on stage who had passed a bill in favor of “women’s reproductive rights,” interjecting that the three women present had also worked similar legislation. Similarly, when Tulsi Gabbard stated her support for the LGBTQ+ equality act, she was cut off by Cory Booker who said that she didn’t go far enough, arguing, “We do not talk enough about trans Americans, especially African-American trans Americans.”

Round two of the first Democratic debate begins at 9 pm EST on June 27, 2019.

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[Image Credit: NBC/YouTube]

Nathan Petri

Nathan Petri

Nathan Petri is from Wisconsin, and is majoring in Politics at Hillsdale College.

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