From crowd participation to attacks on the leading candidate, Wednesday's Democratic debate in Detroit left room for excitement.
The second night of the Democratic debate kicked off at 8 p.m. in Detroit's Fox Theatre. This is the second round of debates for the Democratic candidates.
Wednesday night's podium positions were as follows:
- Michael Bennet, senator from Colorado
- Kirstin Gillibrand, senator from New York
- Julián Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
- Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey
- Joe Biden, former Vice President
- Kamala Harris, senator from California
- Andrew Yang, entrepreneur
- Tulsi Gabbard, representative of Hawaii's second district
- Jay Inslee, governor of Washington
- Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City
The candidates discussed a lot during the two and a half hours the debate lasted.
Following the leader
Entering the debates, Biden was leading the polls, but the pressure was all on him. Wednesday night, he had a target on his back.
The last to arrive at the Fox on Wednesday night, but the first to take the stage, Biden's criticism was the topic of the debate's first question, directed to Harris. Harris proposed a health care plan under the title "Medicare for All," but is a separate plan than the Medicare for All discussed by the candidates in the first debate.
Biden's suggested health care plan would support the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as "Obamacare."
Despite his repeated attempts, name-dropping Barack Obama wouldn't protect Biden from the criticisms from the other candidates. Harris and Gillibrand piled on heavily to gain an answer as to why until recently he was in support of the Hyde Amendment, an amendment that prevents women from using federal funds to receive an abortion.
Through all four nights of the Democratic debates, health care plans took center stage. The idea of universal health care is a popular one amongst Democratic voters, but many aren't on board with being forced off their private health care plans.
Here lies the topic with the most polarizing view points. The more progressive candidates typically support a plan similar to Medicare for All, one that would remove private healthcare.
More moderate candidates prefer options that allow the public to choose their preference; they could be on a government plan, or stay with their private health care that they receive from employers, for example.
The expansion of coverage was also a topic of discussion, specifically Inslee's call for health care to cover mental health services.
"There’s no reason we should distinguish between your physiological and your mental health," he said.
During Booker's opening statement, he was interrupted by chants from the crowd. It is believed that the chants were "Fire Pantaleo."
Daniel Pantaleo is a police officer who killed a black man, Eric Garner, after holding him in a prohibited chokehold in New York. This topic came up this year because he maintains a desk job with the NYPD and underwent a trial this year that may result in his termination.
As mayor of New York City, de Blasio declined to terminate Pantaleo's employment because he says the decision is ultimately up to the police commissioner.
Protestors did not stop after Booker's opening statements. Later in the night, they interrupted Biden.
During a conversation about deporting immigrants, protestors chimed in, chanting "3 million deportations."
During Barack Obama's presidency, 3 million people were deported from the United States. Biden says under his presidency, high deportation rates would not resume.
Closing the gender pay gap
A conversation about closing the wage gap ensued, and Harris and Yang took the forefront.
Harris' proposed plan would require companies to prove that they have eliminated differences in pay between men and women. If there is an apparent wage gap, companies will be fined 1% for each 1% of unequal pay they allow.
Yang's plan, however, would directly pay women dividends of $1,000.
"What we have to do is we have to give women the economic freedom to be able to improve their own situations and start businesses, and the best way to do this is by putting a dividend of $1,000 a month into their hands," he said. "It would be a game-changer for women around the country, because we know that women do more of the unrecognized and uncompensated work in our society. It will not change unless we change it."
The green initiative
Supporting environmental efforts is Inslee's main priority, so the topic of how to help fix the current climate situations was a major topic.
"Literally the survival of humanity on this planet, and civilization as we know it is in the hands of the next president," Inslee said. "We have to have a leader who will do what is necessary to save us. And that includes making this the top priority of the next presidency."
Multiple candidates, including Biden and Booker, said they would sign the Paris Accords. Gillibrand is a cosponsor for the Green New Deal.
Yang, however, thinks that it's too late for the U.S. alone to be able to stop climate change. Instead, he supports economically supporting Americans and getting them to "higher grounds."
The next Democratic debate is to take place in Houston this September. The debate will be September 12, and potentially September 13, depending on how many candidates meet the Democratic National Committee's guidelines to debate.