It’s Debate Time Again. Here Are The Key Moments You Need To Know.

Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images.
It's hard to believe, but there is less than a year left until the 2020 presidential election, a pivotal showdown that will test our democracy. While Trump is busy riling up his base with false claims and insults (and getting impeached), the remaining Democrats in the race are working hard trying to get a piece of the voter pie.
The sixth Democratic presidential debate on Thursday, December 19, marked the halfway point of the primary debate schedule, with six more debates left in the cycle between January and April. This was a crucial moment for Democrats to differentiate themselves, and they did just that: While the night started with fairly predictable answers on impeachment and the economy, heated discussions on gender, wine caves, and more soon ensued.
On stage this time around were: Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Sen. Bernie Sanders; former vice president Joe Biden; Sen. Amy Klobuchar; billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer; South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and businessman Andrew Yang. Ahead, we live-blogged all of the key moments you need to know about.

Amy Klobuchar is Miss "Made In America."

Judy Woodruff asks Klobuchar about a bipartisan trade agreement among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, the House had just voted on. Klobuchar speaks in support of it and brings the conversation local. "Ninety-five percent of our customers are outside of our borders. And we have to make sure that we have trade agreements that are more fair, because if we can encourage work made in America, every time you hold something in your hand that says 'Made in America,' it is the ingenuity of our workers, it is the quality of a product, it is equality of our workers, and it is the hopes and dreams of the American people."

Elizabeth Warren schools us on taxes: "Oh, they're just wrong."

Woodruff asks Warren how she would respond to economists who say her proposed tax hike on the wealthy "would stifle growth and investment." Warren's response? "Oh, they’re just wrong," to much applause. Warren is proposing the largest tax increase since World War II — 8 trillion (with a T) over a decade, to be exact — but the Massachusetts senator has the last word when it comes to explaining what we could do with that tax:
"You leave two cents with the billionaires, they're not eating more pizzas, they're not buying more cars. We invest that in early childhood education and childcare, that means those babies get top-notch care. It means their mamas can finish their education."

Bernie is on fire tonight.

Moderator Tim Alberta asks candidates whether they'd be willing to risk displacing "thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers" in order to transition to a green economy. Sanders shuts down the question. "Your question misses the mark," he says, ending on an already-iconic quote about how "instead of spending $1.8 trillion a year globally on weapons of destruction, maybe an American president, i.e. Bernie Sanders" can lead the world to fight climate change. Amid an otherwise not-so-contentious debate so far, his passion stands out.

Andrew Yang says it's disappointing to be the only candidate of color on stage.

"I miss Kamala, I miss Cory — though I think Cory will be back," Yang (wearing a "MATH" pin) quips. He then pivots into discussing economic and health issues for people of color. Then he pivots to how his signature plan, a "freedom dividend" of $1,000 a month for all Americans, would help since POC don't have as much disposable income to donate to political campaigns.

Tom Steyer has a lot of frenemies, apparently.

Bernie Sanders has a tone-deaf moment on gender.

Finally, a question about women. It starts when moderator Tim Alberta asks about former President Obama's recent statement that women make better leaders than men. Unfortunately, Bernie bungles it, shifting the conversation to imply that gender is less relevant than wealth disparity: "The issue is where power resides in America, and it's not white or Black or male or female." To many watching, this feels not only tone-deaf but demonstrably untrue.

Elizabeth Warren steals the show, again.

When the same question is posed to Warren, she SHUTS. IT. DOWN. “Senator Warren,” Tim Alberta says. “You would be the oldest president ever inaugurated.” She quickly responds: “I'd also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated.”

Warren vs. Buttigieg: the #winecave showdown

Warren calls out Buttigieg’s fundraiser that was "held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine." (Memes ensue.) But Buttigieg lambasts her for hypocrisy, noting that he is the only person on stage who is not a millionaire or billionaire. “This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass,” he says, adding that Warren's net worth is 100 times his (he is, to be fair, 37 to her 70) and fueling an intense back-and-forth that the moderators literally have to break up. In the end, Klobuchar surprises us when she says she didn’t come here to listen to them argue. "I came to make a case for progress," she says. "And I have never even been to a wine cave. I've been to the wind cave in South Dakota, which I suggest you go to."

Cory Booker (who's not even in the debate) weighs in on #winecavegate.

Andrew Yang has a feminist moment.

Continuing the gender conversation, Yang makes an important point: "strong societies elect more female leaders," he tells his fellow candidates. After explaining the deep misogyny in the U.S., Yang goes as far as to say that we need more women in government because "if you get too many men alone and leave us alone for a while, we kind of become morons."

Amy vs. Pete, round 2

Buttigieg and Klobuchar revive an old argument, which started when she said that with his experience, he wouldn’t have been on the debate stage as a presidential candidate if he were a woman. He tries to diffuse it by saying "we got bigger fish to fry," but Klobuchar responds, "Oh, I don't think we have bigger fish to fry than picking a president of the United States." The two go back and forth, and at one point he says, "try putting together a coalition to bring you back to office with 80% of the vote as a gay dude in Mike Pence's Indiana." It seems candidates are willing to bring out the big guns in this one.

In the spirit of the holidays...

In a kind-of-bizarre final question, moderators asked each candidate to either ask for forgiveness from someone else on stage, or give a gift to one of their fellow candidates. (Notably, the two women asked for forgiveness while the men gave gifts.) While Yang gave the generous gift of offering to mail his book to each candidate, Klobuchar (who arguably won the night) asked "for forgiveness any time any of you get mad at me. I can be blunt," but also gave the gift of a "decency check" to Americans: "[W]e have to bring people with us and not shut them out. That is the gift we can give America in this election." With the second-most speaking time after Sanders in the debate, Klobuchar walked away having made her points — and it seems like people listened to what she had to say.

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