Democrats battle it out in first debate

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on June 27, 2019 - Duration: 02:42s

Democrats battle it out in first debate

Democratic presidential contenders battled over healthcare coverage and border policy on Wednesday during a surprisingly heated first debate that laid bare the party's divisions on whether to abolish private insurance and shift to a Medicare-for-All system.

Nathan Frandino reports.

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Democrats battle it out in first debate

It started with a chorus of similarities.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS, SAYING: "Who's this economy really working for?" (SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA, SAYING: "We know that not everyone is sharing in this prosperity." (SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

CORY BOOKER, (D) NEW JERSEY, SAYING: "This economy is not working for average Americans." But the Democrats' kickoff presidential debate in Miami hosted by NBC News quickly morphed into fireworks.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER SAN ANTONIO MAYOR, SAYING TO BETO O'ROURKE: "If you did your homework on this issue, you would know we should repeal this section." The first of two back to back debates, saw progressive headliner Elizabeth Warren and nine other candidates jockeying to STAND OUT in the packed Democratic field, as they compete to be President Donald Trump's 2020 rival.

In a feisty back-and-forth over border policy, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro confronted former Congressman and fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke for rejecting calls to decriminalize illegal entry into the U.S. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER SAN ANTONIO MAYOR, SAYING: "Some of us on this stage have called to end that section, to terminate that section.

Some like O'Rourke have not." (SOUNDBITE) (English) BETO O'ROURKE, FORMER CONGRESSMAN, SAYING: "As a member of Congress, I helped to introduce legislation that would ensure that we don't criminalize those who seeking asylum or refuge." (SOUNDBITE) (English) JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER SAN ANTONIO MAYOR, SAYING: "I'm not talking about the ones that are seeking asylum.

I'm talking about everybody else." The debate ALSO AIRED DEEP DIVISIONS ON HOW TO HANDLE HEALTH CARE, as Warren - who has been rising in the polls - defended her push to ELIMINATE private insurance.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS, SAYING: "We have a giant industry that wants our healthcare system to stay the same because it's not working for families, but it sure as heck is working for them." That STANCE drew fire from OTHERS ON STAGE, like former Congressman John Delaney.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER REP.

JOHN DELANEY, SAYING: "I think we should be the party that keeps what's working and fixes what's broken." SENATOR CORY BOOKER, WHO CLAIMED THE MOST AIRTIME, MANAGED TO STAND OUT ON THE ISSUE OF GUN VIOLENCE.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

CORY BOOKER, (D) NEW JERSEY, SAYING: "What's even worse is I hear gunshots in my neighborhood.

I think I'm the only one.

I hope I'm the only one who had seven people in his neighborhood shot last week." MINNESOTA SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR CALLED OUT WASHINGTON GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE… AFTER HE CLAIMED TO BE THE ONE ON STAGE WHO HAD DONE THE MOST for WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JAY INSLEE, WASHINGTON GOVERNOR, SAYING: "Protecting a woman's right to reproductive rights in health insurance." (SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA, SAYING: "I just want to say there are three women up here who have fought pretty hard for a woman's right to choose." One name that did not come up as often as expected: Trump….

WHO EN ROUTE TO JAPAN ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE..

FIRED OFF A ONE WORD TWEET: "BORING".

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JAY INSLEE, WASHINGTON GOVERNOR, SAYING: "The biggest threat to the security of the United States is Donald Trump.

And there's no question." The Democrats will do it again Thursday with another 10 candidates taking the stage, including frontrunners former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders.

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