Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg admitted the city failed in retaining black police officers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren confirmed that she’d pull combat troops out of the Middle East. And former VP Joe Biden said he wouldn’t compromise with Republicans to cut Social Security or Medicare. Period.
The Democratic presidential contenders defended their records and charted out competing visions for the White House Monday at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum, the nation’s oldest minority-focused presidential forum.
In interviews with VICE News correspondents, eight candidates drilled into criminal justice, immigration, and other issues affecting minority communities around the country.
Here’s what went down:
Sen. Bernie Sanders doesn’t see himself as a radical. “Guaranteeing healthcare to all people through a Medicare for All program, is that radical?” he said. “I beg your pardon.”
Joe Biden said the Sanders campaign is lying about his positions on entitlements. “There will be no compromise on cutting Medicare and Social Security, period. That’s a promise.”
A Warren administration would pull combat troops out of the Middle East. “We’ve turned the corner so many times we’re going in a circle.”
After eight years as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg explained his record on race and policing. “This is an area where I’ve admitted we’re not where we want to be.”
Businessman Andrew Yang battles Asian stereotypes with math jokes. “By poking fun at these things, we can actually see them for how ridiculous they are.”
Is Sen. Amy Klobuchar the type of white moderate that MLK warned about? “At the time, there were plenty of whites that would perhaps profess to be helpful to African-Americans but were actually holding back a lot of federal civil rights legislation. That is not me.”
Sen. Michael Bennet has no problem being the “bland white guy” in the room. “I’ve stayed in the race because I actually think I have a stronger anti-poverty platform than anyone in the race.”
Former congressman John Delaney argued that Medicare for All is political suicide. “It’s never going to happen. I’m actually for doing things that are going to happen.”
Coming on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the forum gave candidates the chance to address non-white Americans who will comprise one-third of eligible voters for the first time.
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Cover: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Forum in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 20, 2020. (Photo: Justin Hayworth/VICE News)