Democratic Debate 2019 live updates: Health care kicks off lively debate

Some 20 presidential primary contenders return to a pair of stages on Tuesday and Wednesday seeking a breakout moment at the second Democratic debates.

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For the lower-polling candidates in the field, Detroit likely will be their last chance to impress a national audience. Here is how the night is unfolding. (Please refresh for updates.)

8:39 p.m. John Delaney says other 2020 candidates don’t understand the health care system

“‘I’m the only one on the stage with experience in the health care business and with all due respect, I don’t think my colleagues understand the business,” Delaney said. “The public option is great but doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t go far enough. I’m proposing universal health care where everyone gets health care as a basic human right for free, but they have choices.”

8:37 p.m.: Bernie Sanders goes after moderator Jake Tapper

Amid a response on the debate over healthcare, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., took aim at CNN moderator, Jake Tapper and then the network as a whole for the ads running during the debate’s commercial breaks.

“What I am talking about and others up here are talking about is no deductibles and no co-payments and Jake, your question is a Republican talking point. At the end of the day and by the way, and by the way, by the way, the health care industry will be advertising tonight on this program,” he said.

8:33 p.m.: Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke dive into their positions on healthcare

“We don’t have to stand up here speculating about whether the public option will be better or Medicare For All environment will be better than corporate options. We’ll put it to the test,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said.

“I think you can buy into it. That’s the idea of Medicare For All that want to,” Buttigieg added.

But former Congressman Beto O’Rourke said, “The middle class will not pay more in taxes to ensure that every American is guaranteed world-class health care. I think we’re being offered a false choice. Some who want to improve the Affordable Care Act at the margins, others who want a Medicare For All program that will force people off of private insurance, I have a better path: Medicare for America.”

8:31 p.m. Gov. Steve Bullock answers for why he doesn’t support Medicare-for-All

“At the end of the day I won’t support any plan that rips away quality health care from individuals,” Bullock said. “This is an example of wishlist economics. It used to be Republicans that wanted to repeal and replace, now many Democrats do, as well. We can get there with the public option, negotiating drug prices.”

8:29 p.m.: Elizabeth Warren comes to Bernie Sanders’ defense

Amid the first contentious moment between Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Congressman John Delaney, D-Md., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., stood by her progressive ally, defending him from the attack.

“We are the Democrats. We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone. That’s what the Republicans are trying to do,” she said in response to Delaney. “We should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care.”

8:27 p.m. John Delaney creates the first spar of the night with Bernie Sanders on health care

“I’m right about this,” Delaney said. “We can create a universal health care system to give everyone basic health care for free, and I have a proposal to do it, but we don’t have to go around and be the party of subtraction and telling half the country with private health insurance their health insurance is illegal.”

“The fact of the matter is, tens of millions of people lose their health insurance every single year when they change jobs or their employer changes that insurance,” Sanders added. “If you want stability in the health care system, if you want a system which gives you freedom of choice with regard to doctor or hospital, which is a system which will not bankrupt you, the answer is to get rid of the profits of the drug companies.”

8: 25 p.m. Sen. Bernie Sanders tackles the first question of the night on health care

“Right now we have a dysfunctional health care system,” Sanders said. “87 million uninsured or underinsured, 500,000 Americans every year going bankrupt because of medical bills. 30,000 people dying while the health care industry makes tens of billions of dollars in profit.”

8:23 p.m. More Democrats make their case

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “Let’s get real … I have bold ideas, but they are grounded in reality. And yes, I will make some simple promises. I can win this, I’m from the midwest and I’ve won every race, every place, every time and I will govern with integrity.”

Former Texas Beto O’Rourke: “I’m running for president because I believe that America discovers it’s greatness at its moments of greatest need.”

8:19 p.m. Democrats make their case to voters in their opening statements

Author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson: “We the American people must rise up and do what we do best and create a new possibility, say no to what we don’t want and yes to what we know can be true.”

Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney: “Folks, we have a choice. We can go down the road that senator Sanders and senator Warren want to take us with bad policies like medicare for all, free everything, and impossible promises that will turn off independent voters and get trump reelected.”

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio: “The political system is broken, too, because the entire conversation is about left or right, where are you at on the political system and I’m here to say this isn’t about left or right. This is about new and better and it’s not about reforming old systems. It’s about building new systems and tonight, I will offer solutions that are bold, that are realistic, and that are a clean break from the past.”

Former Colorado GovJohn Hickenlooper: “Last year Democrats flipped 40 Republican seats in the house and not one of those 40 Democrats supported the policies of our front runners at center stage … we focused on was making sure we got people together to get things done.”

8:14 p.m. Steve Bullock gives the first opening statement of the night highlighting his ability to work with Republicans across the aisle

“Look, I’m a pro-choice, pro-union, Democrat that won three elections in a red state, not by compromising our values but by getting stuff done,” Bullock said. “That’s how we win back the places we lost.”

8:04 p.m.: The first 10 candidates step onto the stage

Tuesday night’s lineup from left to right on stage includes:

  • Marianne Williamson
  • Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
  • Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
  • Scott Olson/Getty Images

    Democratic presidential candidates take the stage at the beginning of the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre, July 30, 2019, in Detroit.

    8 p.m.: The debate is underway

    Night one of the second Democratic debates is getting underway.

    7:47 p.m.: Moments from taking the stage, Bullock wins lawsuit against the Trump administration

    Just as 2020 candidate and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock was getting ready to take the stage for his first debate, his team delivered news about a victory back home: the governor just won a year-long lawsuit against the Trump administration.

    Bullock, whose presidential message centers on removing dark money from politics, sued the Internal Revenue Service a year ago over a rule President Donald Trump’s administration overturned, which had previously required politically-active nonprofit groups to disclose to the IRS names of donors.

    In Federal Court in Montana, Judge Brian Morris ruled on Tuesday evening that the rule would be reinstated.

    According to the docket, the court “holds unlawful” the rule as adopted by the IRS and said the agency “must follow the proper notice-and-comment procedures pursuant to the APA it if seeks to adopt a similar rule.”

    According to the previous law, donors who gave $5,000 or more in their tax returns would be disclosed to the IRS, although the IRS would redact the donor names when making those documents public. Such groups are commonly called “dark money” groups because they don’t disclose their donors publicly unlike other politically active groups that disclose their donors to the FEC such as super PACs.

    Bullock, who did not qualify for the first Democratic debate in June, will make his debut Tuesday night at the second Democratic debate in Detroit.

    7:44 p.m.: The Democratic debates night one: Fast facts

    There will be over 136 years of political experience showcased the debate stage tonight.

    3 United States Senators: Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar
    3 United States Representatives: Current Rep. Tim Ryan, and former Reps. Beto O’Rourke and John Delaney
    2 Governors: Current Gov. Steve Bullock and former Gov. John Hickenlooper
    1 Mayor: Pete Buttigieg
    1 Author: Marianne Williamson

    Debate stage podium positions (left-right): Williamson, Ryan, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, O’Rourke, Hickenlooper, Delaney, Bullock

    What’s different about the group? Tuesday will be Gov. Bullock’s first time on a debate stage for the 2020 election.

    Oldest candidate – Sanders (77 years old)
    Youngest candidate – Buttigieg (37 years old)

    Most political experience – Sanders
    Least political experience – Williamson

    7:19 p.m.: John Delaney plans to throw punches Tuesday night

    Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney will take a shot at making a name for himself on stage tonight by hitting Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, candidates he thinks are running on “impossible promises.”

    “I plan on drawing sharp contrasts,” Delaney said in a sit down at his hotel today. “As I like to say, they are running on what I like to call, ‘impossible promises.’ And I’m running on real solutions to the issues that matter to the American people. And so that’s a really important contrast to make and that’s what I’m gonna do tonight.” 162442

    Top of the list, Delaney said, is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

    “Because everything is either for free, or he reimagines the healthcare industry in a way that is just based on kind of fairy tale economics,” he said.

    In a statement his campaign put out less than hour before the debate is set to begin, Delaney’s national press secretary, Michael Starr Hopkins, said in a statement, “Sanders isn’t even a Democrat and we shouldn’t let lead our party down a path that will mean we lose to Donald Trump.”

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is also up there.

    “In many ways, she’s outsourced her healthcare plan to Sen. Sanders. So I think you know she is basically pursuing the same playbook,” he said.

    5:45 p.m.: Steve Bullock shares a moment with his son hours before debate

    Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who will be making his debut on a debate stage Tuesday after missing the cut for the first Democratic debates, tweeted a photo of him and his son, Cam, inside the debate hall.

    Every candidate does a walk-through of the debate hall, even previewing their podium placement, hours before the debate kicks off.

    In the photo, Bullock is standing on the stage with his son and said he’s “so grateful” to have him in the audience.

    5:07 p.m. John Hickenlooper says he’s ‘not going to go after’ Warren

    Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a candidate who needs a stand-out moment tonight to emerge from the lower-polling group of candidates, joined CNN to preview his debate strategy and talk the road ahead for his campaign.

    After tweeting Monday that he plans to “go after” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Tuesday night, Hickenlooper said: “I’m not going to go after her. But I do think that this notion that we can have massive government expansions is a sure-fire way to hand the election to Donald Trump. To re-elect who I would argue is one of the worst presidents we’ve ever had.”

    (MORE: Here’s the 2nd 2020 Democratic presidential debates schedule and lineup)

    Despite his criticism of Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Hickenlooper said “oh sure,” when asked if he would support either candidate if they win the Democratic nomination, but that both would have a hard time winning Midwestern states like Michigan.

    “I think they have a much harder time to beat Donald Trump in states like Michigan where we are. This is a state that cares about jobs and they’re not for giant government programs. They’re a much more conservative state than California and New York,” he said.

    Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Crews prepare the stage for the second Democratic 2020 presidential candidates debate in Detroit, Mich., July 30, 2019.

    4:34 p.m.: Mayor Pete says he “looking forward” to the debate

    After Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, left his walkthrough of the debate stage, he went over to St. John’s Episcopal Church near the Fox Theatre.

    ABC News caught up with the small-town mayor, asking how he was feeling about the night.

    He replied, “I’m looking forward to it.”

    3:43 p.m.: The Trump campaign and RNC run counterprogramming ahead of second Democratic debates

    Hours ahead of the debate, the Trump campaign is out with a fresh tv ad using footage from the last debate highlighting the Democratic candidates who indicated they would provide health care benefits to undocumented immigrants.

    The campaign also ran a full-page, color newspaper ad in the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News today criticizing the Democrats plans for healthcare.

    The RNC is holding events in Detroit around the debates, including a roundtable on Tuesday with local business leaders promoting the USMCA Trade Deal hosted by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

    Both the RNC and the Trump campaign’s rapid response “war rooms” will be working both nights to clip moments from the debates to send to their massive emails lists and share across their social media accounts.

    In terms of what the campaign is looking for during this week’s debates, communications director Tim Murtaugh tells ABC News he expects the 2020 field to continue to run further to the left and embrace the four progress congresswomen of color who President Trump . and the campaign have been targeting over the last few weeks.

    “They’ll be scrambling to see who can advocate the most big-government socialist programs,” Murtaugh said. “I’m sure everything they talk about on the stage will be Squad approved.”

    The Trump campaign has deployed a number of staffers to Detroit, including national press secretary Kayleigh MceNany, comms director Tim Murtaugh and Director of Strategic Communications Marc Lotter, who plan to each flood the airways with the campaign’s reaction to the debates. RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel will also be on the ground.


    Graphic shows Democratic presidential candidates chosen to participate in second debate’s first night.

    2:33 p.m.: Bernie Sanders campaign manager shares his debate strategy

    When Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., first learned about the debate lineups during CNN’s random live drawing, his campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, described his reaction in an interview with ABC News Tuesday: “Well I have an ally on many of the fights that I’ve been waging forever” of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

    The campaign feels he should “focus our fire and our differences on places where she and I have been allies together and fighting certain fights,” Shakir added.

    With Sanders sharing center stage with Warren, Shakir detailed the senator’s strategy for Tuesday’s debate, saying, “Right now the strategy isn’t to draw a contrast with everybody in the field, it’s for him to make his case about why he’s unique… So he’ll make the case for himself without denigrating others. Quite frankly, you know this, we have five or six more debates to go before Iowans even vote. There will be plenty of time to draw the contrast. The debate stage will likely narrow down. Tonight isn’t going to be the night where he feels like he needs to draw a contrast with Elizabeth Warren.”

    But prior to taking the stage, Warren rolled a new slate of endorsements, announcing she nabbed one of Sanders’ 2016 backers: Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-N.M., a leading progressive on Capitol Hill who was one of a handful of lawmakers to publicly endorse Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    4 a.m.: What to expect from night one of the second Democratic debates

    The consecutive debates, airing on CNN at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday and Wednesday, are expected to be more contentious, picking up where the first debates in Miami left off: when former Vice President Joe Biden was relegated to playing defense after a game-changing moment for Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and other lesser-known candidates saw spikes in fundraising and polling following a much-needed breakout performance.

    For the last few weeks, campaign aides and surrogates have been sparring over policy in back-and-forth statements, cable TV appearances, and on social media, but now the candidates will have the chance to speak for themselves on their differences and present their visions for the country.

    (MORE: ‘That little girl was me’: Kamala Harris, Joe Biden spar over desegregation at Democratic debate)

    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    PHOTO:Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during the AARP and The Des Moines Register Iowa Presidential Candidate Forum, July 19, 2019, in Sioux City, Iowa.

    The first 10 candidates who are set to square off on Tuesday are:

  • Marianne Williamson
  • Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
  • Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
  • But beyond the two sets of polling front-runners potentially squaring off each night –Sanders and Warren sharing center stage on night one and Biden and Harris on night two — a parade of moderates will have the opportunity to take on the progressive stalwarts and some occupying the lower fundraising tiers will have the chance to directly confront Biden, even as he prepares for attacks from all sides.

    (MORE: Biden v. Harris, Sanders v. Warren at next Democratic debates in Detroit)

    “As the clear front-runner, the attacks will once again be directed Joe Biden’s way,” a senior Biden campaign official told ABC News.

    A day prior to the first night of debate, a new Quinnipiac University poll, released Monday, put Biden comfortably back on top of the Democratic field, with 34% support and significant distance between him and the next polling tier of Warren (15%), Harris (12%) and Sanders (11%).

    On the first night, with the two liberals flanked by more moderate candidates, such as Bullock, Delaney, Hickenlooper, Klobuchar and Ryan, the ideological divide within the Democratic Party will be front and center.

    Sanders and Warren might potentially spend more time teaming up to champion their transformative progressive agendas and similar vision for economic equality against criticism from the middle-of-the-road candidates, who might compete for minutes to take aim at “Medicare for All” and free public college.

    And for Buttigieg — who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Sanders, putting their age difference in the spotlight — the debate will allow him a chance to restore the rising prominence he saw in the early months of the primary after several recent polls show stalling numbers among the middle of the pack.

    As he prepares for the debate, a senior Buttigieg campaign official told ABC News, he expects to “put himself more out there” as he is “feeling more confident.”

    Damian Dovarganes/AP

    Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg tours Vetcor90, the workspace created by late Nipsey Hussle, in Los Angeles, July 25, 2019.

    But for most of the candidates on stage, the stakes for this two-night showdown are much higher after the Democratic National Committee announced more stringent qualifying rules for the September and October debates: candidates will need 2% in four qualifying polls and cross the 130,000 donor mark to qualify.

    Only seven candidates have qualified for the September debate, according to an ABC News analysis, including Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Buttigieg, Harris, O’Rourke, Sanders and Warren. The rest of the field has only a month to go before the deadline.

    This year’s third Democratic primary debate will be hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision and is scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13 at Texas Southern University, a public historically black university in Houston.

    This week’s debates in Michigan, the site of the heart of former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s loss in the Midwest after then-candidate Trump carried the state by 0.3 percentage points, also come a week after former special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly seven-hour testimony on Capitol Hill, when he raised the specter of Russian meddling in the 2020 election, after testifying that 2016 “wasn’t a single attempt … they expect to do it during the next campaign.”

    (MORE: Mueller sounds alarm for 2020 election threats from Russia, others)

    In a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, 54% of Americans said that they are not confident in the capability of the U.S. to effectively defend itself from potential foreign government interference in the 2020 presidential election. Only 17% said they were very confident and 27% were somewhat confident.

    Scott Eisen/Getty Images

    PHOTO:Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) talks about the cost of insulin in the USA versus Canada as he joins a group of people with diabetes on a trip to Canada for affordable Insulin, July 28, 2019, in Windsor, Canada.

    But with concerns of foreign interference looming over the field, squabbles continue over the direction of the party. On Monday, the candidates engaged in an early preview of a debate over health care, after Harris released her Medicare for All plan, an offshoot of the Sanders’ bill he introduced and she co-signed, which includes a loophole to allow private insurers to offer Medicare plans during a 10 year period.

    Both Biden and Sanders’ campaigns immediately railed against her new proposal.

    “This new, have-it-every-which-way approach pushes the extremely challenging implementation of the Medicare for All part of this plan ten years into the future, meaning it would not occur on the watch of even a two-term administration. The result? A Bernie Sanders-lite Medicare for All and a refusal to be straight with the American middle class, who would have a large tax increase forced on them with this plan,” said Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager for Biden.

    Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir, unleashed a sharp attack on Harris, saying in a statement, “Call it anything you want, but you can’t call this plan ‘Medicare for All.'”


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