Beth LeBlanc, Leonard N. Fleming and Jonathan Oosting The Detroit News
Published 8:40 PM EDT Jul 31, 2019
Developing coverage from the Democratic debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
Protesters interrupt candidates minutes into debate
Democratic presidential candidates weren’t 20 minutes into the debate when protesters interrupted their introductory remarks, their chanting causing U.S. Sen. Cory Booker to halt his remarks.
The first up to speak in Wednesday’s debate, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio touted his record of decreased crime, free early childhood education and an increased minimum wage. He took the first swipe at former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, criticizing them for plans that weren’t ambitious enough.
For the last four decades, “working people have taken it on the chin in this country,” de Blasio said, before promising “we will tax the hell out of the wealthy” to make a better country.
An attendee began chanting “Fire Pantaleo!” while de Blasio was speaking
The mayor is under fire for declining to support demands by Eric Garner’s family for the police department to dismiss New York Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Garner died at the hands of the officer, sparking national out.
Multiple joined in the chant “fire Pantaleo!” while Booker was speaking. The outcry caused a moment of silence among the candidates. Neither candidate, nor moderators addressed the situation.
A person was seen being taken out in handcuffs.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York gave a message of optimism about the Democratic party’s chances in 2020 and beyond.
“Beating Donald Trump, definitely not impossible,” she said. “We need a nominee who will take on the big fight and win. We need a nominee who doesn’t know the meaning of impossible.”
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang in his opening remarks promised $1,000 a month to Americans and a more secure economy for workers.
“The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math,” Yang said.
Biden said he was likely to clash with some of the candidates Wednesday, but noted he was also on stage to “restore the soul of America.”
“Mr. President, this is America,” said Biden, referring to his colleagues on stage. “We are strong and great because of this diversity.”
Candidates jump into Night 2 of Democratic debate
The second night of Democratic presidential debates is underway at the Fox Theatre.
Candidates took the stage in Detroit for a second match that is expected to pit front runners U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California against former Vice President Joe Biden.
As candidates took the stage, Biden greeted Harris, who he clashed with in the first debate, with a smile and a plea: “Go easy on me, kid,” he said.
Alongside the eight other candidates who streamed into the Fox shortly before the big event were protesters and supporters who resumed their positions for the second day running around a segment of Woodward Avenue dominated by CNN stages, media and press trucks, and large marquees advertising the big event.
Harris and Biden are joined on stage with U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro; businessman Andrew Yang; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
The first night of the debates Tuesday pitted centrist Democrats against those pushing the party further left on issues such as health care and immigration.
Michigan leaders have urged candidates and moderators to address issues that affect the Midwest, noting President Donald Trump’s success here in the 2016 election came with a message that emphasized better-paying jobs, a renewed pride in America and an investment in manufacturing.
“These candidates need to talk in simple English, lose the gobbledygook and talk to the workers about how they care about them, and what they’re going to do to help them,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn.
Gilchrist launches Night 2 of Dem debates
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist kicked off the second night of Democratic presidential debates in Detroit with a speech that emphasized Democrats’ successes in Michigan in 2018.
After boasting about November’s “pink wave” that placed female Democrats in the offices of governor, attorney general and secretary of state, Gilchrist received a standing ovation for his role as the state’s first African-American lieutenant governor.
“To all of the political pundits that said that Michigan was a red state … we proved them wrong in 2018, and we are going to prove them wrong again in 2020,” he said.
Gilchrist criticized a government that rewarded the “extremely wealthy” and lacked empathy for those working two or three jobs in an attempt to make ends meet.
Acknowledging the ideological differences in the Democratic party, Gilchrist said “what we can all agree on is that these ideas are about moving our nation forward.”
“There is no better place to hold this important discussion about the future of this country than in my hometown of Detroit,” he said.
El-Sayed applauds Warren, Sanders
Abdul El-Sayed knows something about political debates from his 2018 gubernatorial primary run against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
As he walked into the Fox Theatre for Wednesday’s debate, El-Sayed expressed pleasure with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s performances the previous night and their roles “pulling up the progressive wing of the party.”
“I’d say that Joe Biden is anything but a frontrunner on the other side,” he said. “And I think what we’re seeing right now is a conversation where this whole Democratic party is. And I think if we’re centering the conversations in this city and this state are having at their dinner tables, then they always focus on how do we provide people with better access to health care, how do we have an honest conversation about race, how are we dealing with inequality as it stands but as a system.”
El-Sayed said his hope for Wednesday’s debate is that “we don’t get bogged down in a conversation about personalities but that we center it on the ideals that have to be discussed to pull people up.”
Dingell to candidates: ‘Lose the gobbledygook’
The road to the White House leads through the heartland of America and Democratic presidential candidates would be well-served to address issues that matter to that region Wednesday night, said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn.
“These candidates need to talk in simple English, lose the gobbledygook and talk to the workers about how they care about them, and what they’re going to do to help them,” Dingell said from the spin room floor at Hockeytown Café ahead of Wednesday’s debate.
The first night of the debate Tuesday could have used more of a discussion about Midwest jobs and manufacturing, Dingell said. Discussions on health care should be simplified, she said, so that people understand how a candidate’s given plan will help them afford medicine.
“Tabletop issues” are the ones that Midwest voters are hungry to hear about, whether it’s affording a home in a safe neighborhood or the opportunity for their children to get a quality education, Dingell said.
“We have people that are worried about their pensions,” Dingell said. “They’ve worked a lifetime for their wage increases, and now they don’t know if they’re going to have a safe and secure retirement.”
When asked about the divide Tuesday night between centrist candidates and those pushing further left, Dingell said there is room for diversity under the Democratic party’s “big tent.”
“What makes the team strong is that you have the same values where you bring those different perspectives,” Dingell said. “We as a team have got to all row in the same direction so that we win next year.”
Biden invites Flint mayor, Detroit NAACP president
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony are expected at the Wednesday night debate as invited guests of former Vice President Joe Biden, an early frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
The Biden campaign released its eight-person guest list about three hours before the debate. It includes Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and two contests winners from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Kildee: Flint not just a ‘convenient anecdote’
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, was making the rounds near the debate stage Wednesday afternoon and using media interviews to urge candidates to talk more about Flint in the second night of the Democratic presidential debate.
Tuesday night’s debate touched on “trade and failed industrial policy, racial injustice and inequality, economic disparity, infrastructure, drinking water, and about two minutes on Flint,” Kildee told The Detroit News. “It’s an hour away, and it’s an hour these candidates know fairly well because they all come to Flint to do an event or a photo op.”
Kildee made a similar case on CNN earlier Wednesday, discussing the Flint water crisis and arguing that the city’s struggles epitomize many of the failed policies Democratic presidential candidates are now railing against.
“You don’t want to see Flint become this convenient anecdote, but not (part of) a conversation that is really about the direction this country is going,” he told The News. “Because I think it should be.”
Flint activist weighs Harris, Williamson appreciation
A long line of people waited in the afternoon heat roughly four hours before the start of debates to get their seats inside the Fox Theatre for the second night of the Democratic presidential debates.
Among them was Flint activist Arthur Woodson, who described himself as a big Kamala Harris fan who was impressed by spiritual author Marianne Williamson in the Tuesday night debate.
“Out of all the candidates up there last night, she was the only one that didn’t sell pipe dreams,” Woodson said Wednesday as he waited in line for the Fox Theatre to watch the debate in person for the second night in a row. “She was more realistic. She was a people person.”
Williamson turned heads Tuesday night when she called the Flint water crisis the “tip of the iceberg” for infrastructure and environmental issues that disproportionally impact communities of color.
“If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this President is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days,” she said of the debate itself.
Woodson, who got access to the debate through U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint Township, said he was happy to hear Flint come up in the Tuesday night debate and welcomes the attention from candidates. But he said he is tired of them simply dropping into his city for “photo ops.”
He wants to know how Democratic candidates will work with Republicans to actually increase infrastructure funding rather than simply describing their own plans to do so.
“If you don’t get the House and the Senate and executive branch, you’re trying to sell me false dreams,” he said, noting the GOP controls the Senate. “How are you going to go to the Republicans and sell what you’re trying to sell? How are you going to get them to help us?”
What to know about Detroit’s Democratic presidential debates
Meet the candidates
Will Harris-Biden clash resurface in Detroit debate?
After Tuesday night’s debate pitted moderates against progressive Democrats, another 10 presidential candidates will take the stage Wednesday in Detroit to prove they’re ready to lead the nation.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California and former Vice President Joe Biden will headline the second night of the Democratic presidential debates in Detroit. The 8-10 p.m. forum at the Fox Theatre will be moderated by CNN’s Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper.
Joining Harris and Biden will be U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro; businessman Andrew Yang; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
The first 10 candidates entered the stage swinging Tuesday on issues ranging from universal health care to immigration to gun control.
The topics tended to separate the more moderate candidates from those pushing the conversation further left, generating arguments about the advisability of pushing the bolder left-wing policies at the expense of possibly losing independent voters in the 2020 general election against Republican President Donald Trump.
The friction could linger Wednesday, especially since Harris attack Biden in the June debate in Miami on the former vice president’s civil rights record.
Michigan leaders have urged candidates and moderators to discuss issues that affect average Americans in the Midwest, such as roads, manufacturing, clean water, good jobs and access to high-quality education.
While there were some references Tuesday to the economic issues facing the Midwest, and Detroit in particular, the candidates and moderators largely focused on national policy related to immigration, health care, gun violence, civil rights and climate change.
Catch up on night 1 of the Democratic debates
Moderate Democrats hit Sanders, Warren in first Detroit debate
Expert: Sanders, Warren continue streak as primary leaders
Michigan moments: Five times the state took center stage in first debate
Fact check: Examining claims from 2020 Democratic debate
Debate drama: Tim Ryan didn’t place his hand on his heart during the national anthem
Visitors in awe of Fox Theatre during Dem debates
Trump: Tweeting is ‘my only form of defense’ against media
Bernie and Cardi B meet in Detroit, plus other candidate visits around town
GOP to Dem candidates: Michigan needs Trump’s new trade deal
Howes: A different Detroit greets Democratic presidential wanna-bes
Woodward in Detroit closed Tuesday, Wednesday nights for debates
Notable moments from the candidates
Real courage and a backbone are necessary to beat President Donald Trump, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren emphasized. »
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned the country’s “dysfunctional” health care system and defended a plan he authored that some challengers attacked as bad policy. »
Best-selling author Marianne Williamson said the problems in the United States run much deeper than all the issues debated Tuesday, and that some of her competitors were part of the problem. »
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he brought good news and bad in his closing statement for the debate. »
Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke said he would support reparations for African-Americans if elected. »
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan emphasized economic issues as he occasionally tangled with progressive Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the first of two Detroit debates. »
Reaching the American people and working to improve life for ordinary citizens could be the path for Democrats to reclaim areas Donald Trump won in 2016, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock argued. »
Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney received a lot of air time as he sparred with U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren about the future of the party. »
Amy Klobuchar said she has a better chance of winning the presidency with her proposal for a public health plan option than with her U.S. Senate colleague Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan. »
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper emphasized his moderate stances on health care to immigration in fiery exchanges with left-leaning Democratic presidential front runners. »
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