Warren snubs Sanders, CNN’s Abby Phillips asks biased questions, and other key moments from the debate

Warren snubs Sanders, CNN’s Abby Phillips asks biased questions, and other key moments from the debate

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Six Democratic candidates took the stage last night in the last debate before the Iowa caucuses, where voters start to weigh in on the race. The candidates discussed climate change, health, care, and whether the U.S. should keep combat troops overseas in light of recent tensions with Iran. They also discussed the impeachment of President Trump.

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Here are the biggest takeaways: 

Tom Steyer would declare a state of emergency on climate change on his first day in the Oval Office, he said. "I'm still shocked that I'm the only person on the stage who will say this. I would declare a state of emergency on day one on climate. I would do for the standpoint of environmental justice and make sure we go to the black and brown communities where you can't breathe the air or drink the water out of the tap."

He also defended his lack of political experience, first by highlighting his international knowledge as a businessman and then by stating that being a president is “more about judgment than experience." He also said he's going to focus on improving the economy, much like President Trump.

"Whoever is going to beat Mr. Trump is going to beat him on the economy and I have the experience and expertise to show he's a fake there and a fraud ... Look, Mayor Pete has three years as an analyst at McKinsey. I have 30 years of international business experience. I can beat Trump on the economy."

Buttigieg replied: “You demoted me. I was actually an associate, but that’s OK."

Buttigieg and black supporters: On his end, Buttigieg addressed concerns that he lacks support from African Americans, saying: “the black voters that know me best are supporting me."

“The biggest mistake we can make is take black votes for granted. I never will. The reason I have the support I do is not because any voter thinks I’m perfect, it's because of the work that we have done facing some of the toughest issues that communities can, not from the luxury of a debate or a television panel or committee room, but on the ground," he said.

Biden claims he didn't support the war in Iraq: Biden said it was a mistake to vote in favor of giving President George W. Bush to go to war with Iraq. He explained that he did so to give the Bush administration diplomatic leverage to get weapons inspectors back into Iraq. When the war started, "I was in the position of making the case that it was a big, big mistake," he contended.

This is not the first time the former vice president has made a similar claim. CNN notes that Biden, on numerous occasions, has made clear that he isn't opposed to the war, but to how Bush handled the matter.

He later touted his standings in polls as an example that he can beat President Trump as the Democratic nominee."I've been the object of his affection now more than anybody else on the stage. I've taken all the hits he can deliver, and I'm getting better in the polls. I have support across the board and I'm not worried about taking on Donald Trump at all," he said.

Biden also said the GOP "savaged my surviving son," referring to Hunter Biden, who's become a central role in President Trump's impeachment due to his former position on the board of the Ukranian company Burisma Holdings. The former vice president has vehemently defended his son from critics who slammed him for his foreign business relationships in Ukraine and China. Hunter Biden, in an interview with ABC News," described it as "poor judgment on my part.” He struggled with drug and alcohol abuse in the past, dated his brother's widow, and a court recently found that he fathered a child with a woman in Arkansas but refused to recognize it as its own or provide financial support for the baby.

Warren vs. Buttigieg on health care: The Massachusets senator and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana clashed over the implementation of a "Medicare for All" plan in an indication of how progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party are divided on this issue. Warren argued for a single-payer health care system, while Buttigieg proposed a "Medicare for all who want it" plan.

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Warren described his plan as “small improvement.” Buttigieg fired back: “It’s just not true that the plan I’m proposing is small. We have to move past the Washington mentality that suggests that the bigness of plans only consists of how many trillions of dollars they put through the treasury the, the boldness of a plan consists of how many Americans it can alienate.”

The elephant in the room: Sanders and Warren clashed over a claim that the Vermont Senator told her that a woman couldn't win a presidential election. Sanders denied making the remarks, but Warren disagreed.

The dispute appeared to continue off stage when, minutes after the debates, Warren was caught on camera refusing to shake Sanders' hand.

CNN taking sides? It's worth noting how CNN moderator Abby Phillips, phrased questions on the matter. “Senator Sanders, CNN reported yesterday, and Senator Warren confirmed in a statement, that in 2018, you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?” she asked. After Sanders denied saying that, she turned to Warren and asked: “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”

Klobuchar challenged Sanders and Warren over their advocacy of “Medicare for all” and made several references to Iowa and Iowans.

Watch the full debate here.

Can the Democratic candidates beat President Trump? Not according to CNN’s Van Jones. "And I want to say that tonight for me was dispiriting. Democrats got to do better than what we saw tonight. There was nothing I saw tonight that would be able to take Donald Trump out, and I want to see a Democrat in the White House as soon as possible," he said.

The debate overall, writes Dominic Patten in an op-ed for Deadline, "was primarily a very dull affair packed with stump speeches and contenders going through zombified motions ... Tackling their tropes of economic and environmental policy and ignoring the widely supported issues of criminal justice reform and gun violence, the litmus testing Democrats appeared reluctant to truly engage with the urgency of the political moment, to paraphrase Sen. Warren."

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