Democrats took their most direct shots at presidential front-runners at a caustic debate in New Hampshire Friday night – with Sen. Amy Klobuchar mocking Pete Buttigieg for posing as the ‘cool newcomer’ in the field.
Her attack came after Buttigieg came out ahead in delegates from the Iowa caucus and surged in New Hampshire polling – giving him momentum at a critical point in the race.
The Minnesota senator brought up his comment speaking to American ‘exhaustion’ at the Trump impeachment trial, noting that three senators on stage served as jurors in the proceedings.
‘Pete, as you were campaigning through Iowa, as three of us were jurors in that impeachment hearing, you said it was exhausting to watch and that you wanted to turn the channel and watch cartoons,’ she told him, alluding to her days being stuck in the Senate, having first noted she is 59 and Buttigieg is 38.
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Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg came out ahead in delegates from the Iowa caucus and surged in New Hampshire polling – giving him momentum at a critical point in the race
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar noted during Friday’s debate that she was one of the three senators on stage who served as jurors in Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial
Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar shaking hands ahead of Friday night’s debate before the senator mocked Buttigieg for posing as the ‘cool newcomer’ in the field
The seven candidates participating in Friday night’s debate (from left) are Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer
‘It is easy to go after Washington, because that’s a popular thing to do. It is much harder … to lead and much harder to take those difficult positions,’ she tried to school him.
Then she dug into the fresh-faced Buttigieg.
‘Because I think this going after every single thing that people do because it’s popular to say and makes you look like a cool newcomer, I just – I don’t think that’s what people want right now. We have a newcomer in the White House, and look where it got us. I think having some experience is a good thing.’
Piling on the criticism for Buttigieg was hedge funder and philanthropist Tom Steyer, who also poked at Joe Biden Friday night.
‘That’s why I’m worried about Mayor Pete. You need to be able to go toe to toe with this guy [Trump] and take him down on the debate stage or we’re going to lose, he warned. ‘We got to win or we are in deep trouble and we keep not talking about the facts,’ he said.
Buttigieg responded by arguing that the way to beat President Trump is with a different kind of politics.
‘Here’s how we’re going to win,’ he said. ‘We’re going to put up somebody who’s not afraid to call out things like his disgraceful behavior at the national prayer breakfast, he said, and by nominating someone from a working class community that Trump says he is appealing to.
Buttigieg said on the campaign trail in late January: ‘I don’t know about you, but watching the news right now, watching the impeachment coverage, watching the Senate is exhausting.’ He added: ‘I live and breathe politics and I find it exhausting, it’s just, it gets you down, and makes you want to watch cartoons instead.’
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts spoke for only about two-thirds as much time in the first hour of the debate and was not a part of the first round of scrapping among rivals
(From L) Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and billionaire activist Tom Steyer arrive onstage
Democratic presidential candidate entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who shook up his staff after a poor showing in Iowa, speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate on February 7
Seven 2020 Democratic hopefuls take the debate stage Friday night with just four days to go before New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
It marked the eighth time Democratic candidates have faced off onstage – but the first time after some votes have been counted, with the Iowa caucuses cementing the ascent of Sen. Bernie Sanders, giving Buttigieg a burst of momentum and putting former Vice President Joe Biden on notice that he may not be the party’s frontrunner for long.
The seven candidates participating on Friday night were businessman Andrew Yang, Buttigieg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Biden, Sanders, Klobuchar, and Steyer.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts didn’t command as much speaking time as her rivals or get into some of the biggest scraps, although she made one of the most direct attacks of the night when she went after people who ‘suck up to billionaires.’
She came in third in Iowa and is hoping to make a strong showing in New Hampshire with a boost from representing neighboring Massachusetts.
The hit on Buttigieg came as other rivals trained fire on Sanders.
Biden also went after Sanders on guns, after the Vermont senator pointed to his state’s rural nature and said he voted with his constituents before public sentiment there changed.
‘While you were representing your constituency …. [people] were getting killed by the thousands in this same period,’ said Biden.
‘I introduced the first assault weapons ban,’ he said. ‘While I was pushing the Brady background checks, Bernie voted five times against them when he was in the House,’ he intoned.
Biden earlier slammed at Sanders over the Vermont senator’s staple universal healthcare plan.
When asked what it will take to unify the country, Biden, 77, pointed to the signature health proposal of Sanders, 78.
‘Well look, Bernie says that you have to bring people together and we have to have Medicare for All. But Bernie says – and he says he wrote the damn thing. But he’s unwilling to tell us what the damn thing is going to cost,’ Biden charged.
‘How much is it going to cost? Who’s going to pay for it. It would cost more than the entire – the entire federal budget we spend now. More than the entire budget. The idea middle class taxes aren’t going to go up is just crazy,’ the former vice president said, raising his voice.
Biden pointed to implementation of a single-payer healthcare model that was tested, and failed, in Vermont.
‘When they did it in Vermont, what happened? They doubled the state income tax, and then had a 14 per cent tax on withholding. And they finally did away with it,’ Biden said. ‘So how much is it going to cost? When you ask Bernie that – and I’ll ask him again tonight sometime – and if you ask Bernie that, he says, ‘Go figure. I don’t know. We’ll find out.’
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg started the debate by taking a hit at Senator Bernie Sanders accusing him of dividing the Democratic vote with a ‘my way or the high way’ appraoch
Former Vice President Joe Biden criticized Sen. Sanders healthcare plan claiming that he hasn’t planned on how to pay for medicare for all without raising taxes on the middle class
Democratic presidential candidates did ideological battle on stage in New Hampshire during a prime time presidential debate, accusing Bernie Sanders of ‘polarizing’ politics and warning President Trump will hammer him for his democratic socialist label.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who under performed in Iowa, focused on poll leaders Sanders and Buttigieg, while Buttigieg and Sanders argued about which brand of politics can prevail in November.
Biden began the debate outside Manchester by issuing a tough assessment of his own chances here – while taking an early stab at tearing into his leading rivals.
‘I took a hit in Iowa and I’ll probably take a hit here,’ predicted Biden, who has led in early polling but called the results out of Iowa a ‘gut punch.’
He also appeared to concede a possible loss to Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
‘Usually it’s the neighboring senators who do well,’ Biden observed.
He responded to the first question of the night from host George Stephanopoulos by going after both Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, who each had a claim to Iowa victory.
Biden brought up Sanders’ identification as a democratic socialist.
‘I think that’s the label that the president’s going to lay on everyone running,’ he warned.
And he said of Buttigieg, the former South Bend mayor: ‘He’s a mayor of a small city who has done some good things but has not demonstrated his ability … and we’ll soon find out.’
Stephanopoulos asked if any of the candidates on stage was concerned about running a candidate with a socialist label against Donald Trump.
None initially raised their hands, although Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar cautioned: ‘We are not going to be able to out divide the divider in chief’ and called for appealing to moderates and independents.
Sanders repeated his talking point that ‘I believe that the way we beat Trump is by having the largest voter turnout in the history of this country’.
Buttigieg delivered one of his most explicit attacks on the politics Sanders is pushing.
He called it ‘a politics that says it’s my way or the highway,’ adding: ‘We’ve got to bring as many people as we can into this process.’
Even amid the ideological and personal attacks, Buttigieg found a way to defend Biden, whose son Hunter’s business dealings featured prominently in the unsuccessful Democratic-led impeachment effort.
Trump and his GOP allies blasted Hunter Biden and called his conduct corrupt during the Trump trial, and Republicans in the Senate are gearing up investigations that could easily resurface the matter during the campaign.
Joe Biden became emotional when Pete Buttigieg came to his defense during the debate
The former Mayor’s team followed up on his defense of Joe and Hunter Biden’s on Twitter
Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in 2010. Hunter may be under investigation by Senate Republicans and was the subject of the Ukraine call that led to impeachment
Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, who under performed in Iowa, blasted New Hampshire poll leaders Bernie Sanders, right, and Pete Buttigieg in Friday’s Democratic debate
Asked if it was a danger to nominate a candidate who was under threat of investigation, Buttigieg stood by the elder statesman who kicked off the debate by going after him for inexperience.
‘No, and we’re not going to let them change the subject. This is not about Hunter Biden, or Vice President Biden, or any Biden. This is about an abuse of power by the president,’ Buttigieg said.
‘Look, the vice president and I, and all of us are competing, but we’ve got to draw a line here. And to be the kid of president – to be the kind of human being who would seek to turn someone against his own son, who would seek to weaponize a son against his own father, is an unbelievably dishonorable thing. That is just one more example that we as a party have to be completely united to do whatever it takes, at the end of the day, to make sure that this president does not get a second term,’ he added.
Biden appeared somber while Buttigieg defended his son.
‘I thank my colleague for saying that. It is a diversion. But here’s the deal: Whomever the nominee is, the president is going to make up lies about,’ Biden said.
Then he pointed to Purple Heart Col. Alexander Vindman, who was marched out of the White House Friday after testifying against Trump in the House impeachment inquiry.
‘He should be pinning a medal on Vindman and not on Rush Limbaugh. And I think we should all stand and give Col. Vindman a show of how much we supported him,’ Biden said. Stand up and clap for Vindman!’ he implored the crowd.
‘Get up there. Who we are. That’s who we are. We are not what Trump is.’
Some of Biden’s comments created a humorous and confusing moment Friday night when he demanded the next president needs to inspire voters to elect more Democratic senators in certain states, including in Minnesota – the state Amy Klobuchar represents in the U.S. Senate.
‘We must win back the United States Senate this time out,’ Biden asserted. ‘And that’s why as you all look at it up here in New Hampshire and around the world – excuse me, around the country – you have to ask yourself: Who is most likely to get a senator elected in North Carolina, Georgia. Who can win Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota? Who can do that?–’
‘Oh – seriously?’ Klobcuhar interrupted Biden, who represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009 before becoming Barack Obama’s No. 2.
Biden referenced Purple Heart Col. Alexander Vindman, who was marched out of the White House on Friday after testifying against Trump in the House impeachment inquiry
Democratic presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks as during the eighth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season
(From L) Democratic presidential hopefuls former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gesture during the eighth Democratic primary debate
The Minnesota senator’s response was met with laughter from the audience and some smirks from those debating on-stage.
At this point, the six remaining candidates on stage were raising their hands, both to respond and likely to indicate they felt they could successfully pull off what the former vice president was proposing.
‘You can, I agree,’ Biden admitted to Klobuchar.
‘But here’s the point, you’ve got to be able to. You’ve got to be able to not just win, you’ve got to bring along a United States Senate, or this becomes moot,’ he concluded in describing what he feels should be a litmus test for the Democratic nominee.
The senator also earned laughs when she launched attacks at Trump.
She said the president repeatedly sided with ‘tyrants.’
‘He blames his Federal Reserve chair that he appointed himself. He blames the King of Denmark. Who does that?’ she posed, earning an enthusiastic response from debate attendees.
‘He blames the prime minister of Canada for, he claims, cutting him out of the Canadian version of Home Alone 2. Who does that?!’ she continued.
Only one candidate on stage Friday night is a minority: Andrew Yang.
But race became a prominent issue when billionaire activist Tom Steyer demanded Biden disavow a top surrogate’s comments that Steyer says are ‘openly racist.’
Biden would not go that far, but did claim he felt South Carolina State Senator Dick Harpootlian was sorry for his comments.
Steyer’s hit at the state senator was in reference to comments Harpootlian made about a Federal Election Commission filing that showing Black Caucus Chairman Jerry Govan receiving ‘almost $50,000’ from Steyer’s campaign.
He also called Steyer ‘Mr. Money Bags.’
‘Is he pocketing the dough or redistributing the wealth?’ Harpootlian asked, in reference to Govan.
This was the comment accused of being racist.
Harpootlian made clear that he does not speak for the Biden campaign and that the comments were not associated with the former vice president.
Former New York Mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg was not on the debate stage on Friday but sparked a conversation about campaign fundraising and big-dollar donors
Biden also touted during his debate defense that he has ‘more support in South Carolina in the Black Caucus’ than any other candidate on stage.
‘Double what you have or anybody else has,’ he continued.
One candidate came up during the debate that wasn’t even on the stage: Mike Bloomberg – and mention of his name flung the debaters into a clash over how they fund their campaigns.
‘Look, I don’t think anyone ought to be able to buy their way into a nomination or be President of the United States,’ Warren said of Bloomberg, a billionaire former mayor of New York City.
‘I don’t think any billionaire ought to be able to do it, and I don’t think people who sucks up to billionaires in order to fund their campaigns ought to do it,’ she continued, referencing her competitors who take money from these individuals.
Warren has sworn off big fundraisers – but in the past has taken money from big-dollar donors.
‘Everyone on this stage except Amy and me is either a billionaire or is receiving help from PACs that can do unlimited spending,’ Warren said. ‘So if you really want to live what you say, then put your money where your mouth is, and say no to the PACs.’
‘Look, I think the way we build a democracy going forward is not billionaires reaching in their own pockets or people sucking up to billionaires. The way we build it going forward is we have a grassroots movement, funded from the grassroots up. That’s the way I’m running this campaign,’ she said.
Pete Buttigieg tweets photo of him next to empty podiums before the Democratic Debate
The stage is set for the February 7 Democratic debate in Manchester, New Hampshire
Chair of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez speaks prior to the Democratic presidential primary debate on February 7, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire
Senator Elizabeth Warren is in third place in New Hampshire where her supporters campaigned today ahead of Friday’s Democratic Debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester
Friday marks the return of Andrew Yang to the Democratic debate stage after he didn’t meet the Democratic National Committee’s thresholds to participate last month
Supporters of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg rally outside the Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidates debate in Manchester, New Hampshire
Sanders jumped in, agreeing with his fellow progressive senator, boasting his campaign is solely funded by grass roots contributors.
He also claimed Bloomberg only made it this far because of his billions – and he called the notion ‘nonsense.’
‘Unlike some of the folks up here I don’t have 40 billionaires, Pete, contributing to my campaign coming from the pharmaceutical industry, coming from Wall Street and all the big money interest,’ Sanders said, taking a hit at the Iowa caucus victor.
‘If we want to change American, you’re not going to do it by electing candidates who are going out to rich people’s homes begging for money,’ Sanders said.
But Buttigieg defended himself.
‘We are going into the fight of our lives,’ he said, citing how much money the Trump reelection campaign is bringing in. ‘We need to go into that fight with everything we’ve got.’
Ahead of the debate, Sanders had a clear lead in New Hampshire polls
The Emerson poll had Sanders far ahead of the pack with 32 per cent, followed by Buttigieg with 23. Warren took the same position she did in Iowa – third – with 13 per cent support.
Biden slipped into fourth in the New Hampshire poll at 11 per cent after finishing in the same position in Iowa.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar needs a boost out of New Hampshire, after coming in fifth place in Iowa
Billionaire Tom Steyer will also be onstage with the six other Democratic 2020 hopefuls
The Boston Globe-Suffolk University survey released Friday showed Sanders and Buttigieg neck-and-neck, with 24 per cent support and 23 per cent support respectively. Warren again followed with 13 per cent support. And Biden, again, came in fourth with 11 per cent – the same per cent of Democrats who said they remained undecided in the primary, which happens Tuesday.
In both new polls, Sen. Amy Klobuchar came in fifth, the place she took in Iowa as well.
Later Friday an NBC New/Marist poll showed a similar lay of the land.
Sanders was in front with 25 per cent, with Buttigieg trailing within the poll’s 4.7 per cent margin of error at 21 per cent. Warren and Biden followed at 14 per cent and 13 per cent respectively. Klobuchar was at 8 per cent.
On the debate stage Friday night, these five top candidates will be joined by billionaire Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang, who are both polling in the single digits.
The New Hampshire debate marks Yang’s return to the debate stage as he didn’t meet the required thresholds, mandated by the Democratic National Committee, to make the debate stage in January in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Democratic candidates will debate two more times this month.
They’ll take the stage in Las Vegas on February 19 in the run-up to the Nevada caucuses.
Then those who qualify will head to Charleston, South Carolina for a debate on February 25 in advance of South Carolina’s primary.