The fifth democratic debate of the 2020 election season took place on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. The debate included former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, businessman Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. The debate was hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post and moderated by an all-female panel of Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kristen Welker and Ashley Parker.
It was a universal agreement among the candidates who were asked about the impeachment that Trump deserves to get impeached for his actions in the Ukraine scandal. Harris called Trump a “criminal,” while Biden said Trump doesn't want to run against him. Warren said Ambassador Gordon Sondland was granted an ambassadorship because of his status as a Trump donor, and said as president she wouldn’t “give away ambassador posts to the highest bidders.” Sanders said although Trump may be “the most corrupt president in the history of America … we cannot simply be consumed by Donald Trump.” Buttigieg spoke of uniting the country in a post-Trump presidency instead of focusing specifically on the Ukraine scandal.
Sanders said Americans need to come together, and that the country is not nearly as divided as is believed. When questioned by Maddow if the “lock him up chants” that have been directed at Trump were acceptable, Sanders said Americans are simply telling Trump “no one is above the law.”
Biden said the chants are not helpful, and Americans need to “restore the soul of this country.” When asked if he would support charging Trump when he is out of office, Biden said he would not direct the Justice Department to prosecute him once Trump left office, and he would leave the department to decide whether or not to prosecute him.
“I would not dictate who should be prosecuted,” Biden said.
When asked if she was concerned about how her support for Medicare for All could cost her votes, Warren said her plan was to be enacted quickly and she is bringing necessary change to the healthcare system. On “day one” of her presidency, she would bring down prescription drug costs.
Sanders said he would take on the insurance and pharmaceutical industry, and “now is the time” to introduce Medicare for All, with “no deductibles” and “no co-payments.”
Candidates such as Biden and Buttigieg weren’t as supportive of Medicare for All. Biden said not only would Medicare for All not be able to pass in the Senate, it also would fail the House due to lack of Democrat support. Biden said instead of redoing the healthcare system, Obamacare should be built upon, while Buttigieg said people shouldn't be forced into government run plans.
Paid family leave
The lack of paid family leave in the U.S. was another major issue the candidates were asked about, and there was a general support among the candidates. Yang said the U.S. is on a short list of countries throughout the world that doesn’t have paid family leave, and thus he would pass a bill to address the issue once elected.
Klobuchar said the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in providing paid family leave and child care, and supports a guaranteed three months of family leave. She supports family leave, but disagreed with Klobuchar’s proposal of only three months, instead supporting six months of paid family leave.
All candidates who spoke on climate change said it was an important issue being plagued by hyperpartisanship. Gabbard said climate change impacts everyone around the world and isn’t a right or left issue, and she would invest in a “green, renewable economy.” Steyer said climate change is the “number one priority for me,” and said on day one of his presidency, he would declare climate change a national emergency. Steyer said climate change is his number one foreign policy priority as well as domestically.
Biden said climate change “is the existential threat to humanity, the number one issue.” Sanders said we will see “climate refugees” relatively soon if climate change isn’t handled properly. He said it is time to consider prosecuting some figures in the fossil fuel industry for their responsibility in climate change.
Gabbard and Buttigieg disagreed over whether or not to meet with foreign adversaries. While Gabbard said she would meet with friends and foes alike, Buttigieg strongly disagreed and brought up Trump meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Harris said North Korea, during negotiations between North Korea and the U.S., had taken advantage of President Trump, and Trump got “punked.” Harris said she would make no additional concessions to restart negotiations with North Korea. Sanders said there are big differences between Biden and himself. While Sanders said he was leading the opposition against the Iraq invasion, “[Vice President Biden] supported the terrible war in Iraq.” Sanders said he would bring home American troops from overseas, but wouldn’t do it like President Trump with “a tweet at three o’clock in the morning.”