Democratic Debates: Top Quotes by Each Candidate

The first night of the second round of Democratic presidential candidate debates took place in Detroit Tuesday. The candidates answered questions on a range of issues, including health care, recent mass shootings, immigration and foreign trade.

Here are some quotes from each candidate:

Steve Bullock, in responding to a discussion on gun violence, discussed a personal story, saying: “I’m a gun owner, I hunt, like far too many people in America, I have been personally impacted by gun violence. I had an 11-year-old nephew, Jeremy, shot and killed on a playground. We need to start looking at this as a public health issue, not a political issue.”

Pete Buttigieg, who as South Bend, Indiana, mayor has been criticized for his handling of a recent racially tinged shooting, said about race: “As an urban mayor serving a diverse community, the racial divide lives within me. I’m not saying that I became mayor and racism or crime or poverty ended on my watch. But in our city, we have come together repeatedly to tackle challenges like the fact that far too many people were not getting the help they needed in their housing and so we directed it to a historically underinvested African American neighborhood. Right now in the wake of a police involved shooting, our community is moving from hurting to healing by making sure that the community can participate in things like revising the use of force policy, and making sure there are community voices on the board of safety that handles police matters.”

John Delaney, in criticizing health care plans by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, said: “We don’t have to go around and be the party of subtraction and telling half the country who has private health insurance that their health insurance is illegal. It’s also bad policy. It’ll under-fund the industry, many hospitals will close, and it’s bad politics. … 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 (President Donald) Trump re-elected.”

John Hickenlooper, in criticizing Senator Sanders’ health care plan, said: “I’m saying the policies of this notion that you’re going to take private insurance away from 180 million American, who many of them don’t want to give it, many of them do want to get rid of it, but some don’t, many don’t. The Green New Deal makes sure that every American’s guaranteed a government job if they want, that is a disaster. You might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump. I think we have to focus on where Donald Trump is failing.”

Amy Klobuchar, answering a question on infrastructure, discusses the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, said: “I was just in Flint, and they are still drinking bottled water in that town, and that is outrageous, and my plan, and I am the first one that came out with an infrastructure plan and I did that because this is a bread and butter issue for people that are caught in traffic jams. I truly believe that if we’re going to move on infrastructure, climate change, you need a voice from the heartland.”

Beto O’Rourke, who lives in the border town of El Paso, Texas, in explaining his stance on decriminalizing border crossings by undocumented immigrants, said: “In my administration, after we have waived citizenship fees for green card holders, more than 9 million of our fellow Americans, free Dreamers who many fear of deportation, and stop criminally prosecuting families and children for seeking asylum and refuge, and for-profit detention, and so that no family has to make that 2,000-mile journey, then I expect that people who come here follow our laws and we reserve the right to criminally prosecute them.” 

Tim Ryan, who said he agrees in part with President Trump’s use of tariffs against China, saying: “I think President Trump was onto something when he talked about China. China has been abusing the economic system for a long time. They steal intellectual property. They subsidize goods. They eroded manufacturing. We transfer our wealth of the middle class either up to the top 1% or to China for them to build the military. So I think we need some targeted response against China.”

Bernie Sanders, in explaining his climate change agenda, said: “To win this election and to defeat Donald Trump, which by the way, in my view is not going to be easy, we need to have a campaign of energy and excitement and of vision. … I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas. Republicans are not afraid of big ideas. They could give a trillion dollars in tax breaks to billionaires and profitable corporations. … On this issue, my friends, there is no choice, we have got to be super aggressive if we love our children and if we want to leave them a planet that is healthy and is habitable. … What that means is we got to take on the fossil fuel industry.”

Elizabeth Warren, on a night when North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles, explained her position on the use of nuclear weapons, saying: “The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively. We need to say so to the entire world. It reduces the likelihood someone miscalculates or misunderstands. Our first responsibility is to keep ourselves safe. And what’s happening right now with Donald Trump is they keep expanding the different ways we have nuclear weapons. The different ways they can be used puts us all at risk.”

Marianne Williamson, in defending her plan to offer up to $500 billion in reparations to the U.S. descendants of enslaved Africans, said: “It is time for us to simply realize that this country will not heal. All that a country is a collection of people. People heal when there’s deep truth-telling. We need to recognize when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with. That great injustice has had to do with the fact that there was 250 years of slavery, followed by another 100 years of domestic terrorism.”


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