Democrats hold third primary debate

Photo courtesy of David Phillip/AP

By Mo Juenger | Staff Writer

Xavier students gathered to watch the third Democratic presidential primary debate at a watch party in the Clock Tower Lounge on Sept. 12. This was the first debate to be held in one night, with fewer candidates onstage than the two previous events.

The debate featured nine candidates vying to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate:  former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; former Congressman Beto O’Rouke; South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senators Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Biden began the debate as the number one candidate in the polls. Throughout the debate he frequently mentioned former President Barack Obama. “I think we should have a debate on health care. I know that the senator says she’s for Bernie. I’m for Barack,” Biden said at one point.

Some students thought the references were overdone. “I think (Biden) definitely over-referenced his past candidacy,” first-year biomedical sciences major Dominic Stanley said.

On stage, Yang made an announcement that he will give 10 families $1,000 a month for a year as part of his “Freedom Dividend” policy proposal, regardless of the primary election outcomes. It is unclear if this promise may break campaign finance laws.

In one of the more memorable lines of the debate, O’Rourke claimed, “Hell yes, we’ll take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

Some students criticized the feasibility of this plan and O’Rourkes rhetorical approach.

“Saying he’s going to take your guns, that’s not going to happen,” junior finance major Alex Nemechek, said. “He’s just helping the Republicans out.” 

Harris and Klobuchar both expressed criticism of President Donald Trump in their opening statements. “Trump … reminds me of that guy from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ When you pull back the curtain, he’s a really small dude.”

Warren and Buttigieg told about their pasts and defining moments of resiliency throughout their lives. Warren spoke of her days as a teacher for children with disabilities, and Buttigieg recalled coming out as gay for the first time.

The candidates also spent time to support unifying the party through the primary. “We have to know what we are about and this election is not about any of us up here, it is not about this president. … (It is about the) people who trust us with their lives,” said Buttigieg.

 The next debate will be held on Oct. 15 with the possibility of another debate night on Oct. 16, depending on the number of qualifying candidates. In addition to those present at the Sept. 12 debate, Tom Steyer has already qualified to participate.

Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson have met the individual donor requirements to qualify for the debate.

Gabbard needs only one  poll and Williamson needs three polls that have them at 2% in order to qualify.

This debate will be held at Otterbein University in Ohio and will be co-hosted by CNN and the New York Times.