In Depth

US election 2020: who won the first Democratic TV debate?

Elizabeth Warren praised after first ten candidates cross swords

Immigration, healthcare and the economy dominated the agenda as ten of the Democrats running for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination locked horns in the first of two televised debates.

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren was widely regarded to have been the standout candidate on the night, with CNN calling her “the straw that stirs the drink in the debate” on the crowded stage in Miami.

The BBC says the “impassioned” Warren “drew applause” but adds that “a couple of underdogs gulped much-needed political oxygen with zingers on Donald Trump and abortion”.

The Guardian notes that the line-up was “a reflection of the increasingly diverse Democratic party”. Three women, “two more than have ever shared a stage during a presidential primary debate – a Latino former congressman and a black senator participated in the debate”, says the newspaper.

However, the US president was less enthused. Watching the debate aboard Air Force One on his way to attend the G20 summit in Japan, Donald Trump tweeted: “BORING”.

Warren was one of only two contenders on stage (along with New York mayor Bill de Blasio) to say she supports replacing private medical insurance with government-run healthcare.

She said: “There are a lot of politicians who say, 'oh, it's just not possible'... what they're really telling you is, they just won't fight for it. Well, healthcare is a basic human right and I will fight for basic human rights.”

Calling for higher taxes on the rich and breaking up tech giants, she said: “Who is this economy really working for? It's doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top.”

To loud acclaim from the studio audience, she declared: “We need to make structural change in our government, in our economy and in our country.”

The other candidates to take part were Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; New Jersey senator Cory Booker; former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke; former housing secretary Julian Castro; Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar; Washington governor Jay Inslee; New York mayor Bill de Blasio; Ohio congressman Tim Ryan and the former Maryland congressman John Delaney.

There was praise for other candidates’ performances, with former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro drawing some acclaim, but Warren garnered the most praise.

The Independent says: “Time and again, she found the right words and her opponents lost or mangled them.”

CNN says “she came into the debate with the momentum in the race. Nothing she did on Wednesday night will stop that momentum”.

There will be a second debate this evening, featuring the former vice-president Joe Biden and senator Bernie Sanders.

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