The final Democratic presidential debate before the New Hampshire primary saw pointed exchanges among several of the seven candidates on stage, with former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg on the receiving end much of the night.
Following the bungled vote count during the Iowa caucuses that began Monday but didn’t see a winner until Thursday, the Democratic presidential contenders took every opportunity to show off their potential electability – and their opponents’ lack of it.
Buttigieg was called out by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for “taking money from 40 billionaires” and, more pointedly, by Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who chastised Buttigieg for saying he was tired of watching the hearings on President Donald Trump’s impeachment and would rather be “watching cartoons.”
Health care was again a topic that dominated at the debate, the eighth Democrats have held since June 2019.
Former Vice President Joe Biden attacked Sanders on how he would pay for his Medicare for All plan that would pay for health care for every American.
Racism, childhood poverty, foreign policy and drugs were all topics touched on by the group, which included Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and entrepreneurs Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.
Child poverty is the question
10:20 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: The last question of the debate is on child poverty, a question last asked at a presidential debate by broadcaster Cokie Roberts in a 1999 debate, Stephanopoulos says.
Yang answers first saying universal basic income – his idea of giving everyone a $1,000 a month – would help lift children out of poverty.
Klobuchar said she planned to eradicate child poverty in a generation.
Sanders talked about wealth distribution, saying it would solve the problem of child poverty.
Biden talked about being a single father raising his two sons after his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident. He said it was tougher being a single mom. He said he has worked to help children with early childhood programs.
Mike Bloomberg and money in politics
9:55 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Warren is asked about Michael Bloomberg and his campaign for president."I don't think anyone should be able to buy their way into a presidential election," Warren said. "I don't think people who suck up to billionaires ought to be able to do it
.“I didn’t come from money,” Klobuchar said.
Sanders says his campaign is funded by millions whose average donation is a bit over $18. He points to Buttigieg and accuses him of taking money from billionaires and many pharmaceutical companies.
Buttigieg says money is needed to beat Trump in November and pivots to saying Democrats need to take anyone who will come with them to beat Trump.
A discussion on race
9:30 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Buttigieg dodges a question about African-American arrest rates while he was mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He is asked to explain why the rate increased. Buttigieg says the numbers did not go up.
Moderator Linsey Davis asked Warren if Buttigieg’s answer was sufficient. “No,” she said. She goes on to say “we have to have conversations about race, and not just in the context of criminal justice.”
Steyer said he is for reparations for slavery. “Something happened,” Steyer says in defending his call for reparations.
We have a racists society from top to bottom, Sanders says.
Klobuchar says racism rears its head in voting.
Warren on a woman’s right to choose
Who is talking the most?
Biden on Sanders’ record on guns
9:15 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Biden takes a swipe at Sanders, saying he voted five times against background checks spelled out in the Brady Bill. "Think of all of the thousands and thousands of people who died!" Biden said.
The issue of guns is raised
The judgment issue
9 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Buttigieg is asked about Biden's had made the "wrong" decision when he voted for going to war with Iraq. He said the next president needs better judgment to deal with the issues of this century.
8:55 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Warren and Sanders are against the United States becoming involved in "endless war."
We need to bring our combat troops home,” Warren said.
Biden is furious about Trump as commander-in-chief.
A hand for Vindman
8:49 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Biden slams Trump for firing Vindman, saying Trump "should be pinning a medal on Vindman and not Rush Limbaugh." Limbaugh was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the conservative radio host.
“Stand up and clap for Vindman,” Biden said, asking the audience to stand up and clap.
Hillary Clinton question
8:44 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Klobuchar is asked about Hillary Clinton's statement that Bernie Sanders is hard to work with and that "no one likes him."
She says she likes him fine, and has worked with him on several issues.
Sanders addresses Clinton’s remarks saying we need to “look forward and not back. I hope Sec. Clinton and all of us can move forward and work together.”
8:42 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Buttigieg defends Biden and his son, Hunter, against Trump. He says Trump is dishonorable to "weaponize" a son against his father.
Yang on what the problem is
What was so wrong about the past?
8:29 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Some of the things Biden has said so far:
“I busted my neck getting Obamacare passed.”
“The politics of the past are not that bad.”
“I don’t know what about the past with Barack Obama and Joe Biden was that bad.”
Buttigieg says it’s time to “meet the moment” in response to Biden saying he doesn’t know what was so wrong with the work he did in Washington in his career.
Klobuchar slaps back at Buttigieg. She asks him why he made a remark while campaigning in Iowa that he was tired of watching the impeachment hearings and would “rather watch cartoons.”
Everyone on stage has gone after Buttigieg so far, with the exception of Warren.
Buttigieg says Sanders’ policies make him a divider
8:15 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Buttigieg says he is concerned that Sanders could divide the party. Sanders replied by saying he believed Medicare-for-all will be unifying for the party.
The debate is beginning
8:05 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: The debate has started. Biden gets the first question.
He acknowledges he took at “hit” in Iowa, “and will probably take one in New Hampshire.”
Biden is asked why Buttigieg and Sanders would be bad choices as a Democratic nominee. Biden says Sanders is a socialist and Buttigieg doesn’t have enough experience.
Sanders is asked what happens if he gets the nomination and Trump uses socialism to bash him. He said it doesn’t matter what Trump says because Trump “lies all the time.”
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, one of the moderators, asks if anyone on the stage is concerned that a Democratic socialist could be the nominee.
Klobuchar raises her hand.
Who is on stage tonight?
7:48 p.m. Feb. 7, 2020: Here's who will be on stage tonight
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
- Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg
- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
- Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
- Entrepreneur Tom Steyer
The Iowa results
7:35 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds a slight lead in the final vote count from the Iowa Caucus that was supposed to be completed on Monday but has dragged out during the entire week due to problems with an app election officials were using to report votes.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has called for a recanvasing (a recount) of the votes in Iowa.
However, only candidates may call for a recount of votes. The state extended the deadline to Monday for candidates to make such a request.
Vindman, twin brother fired; Gordon Sondland recalled
7:15 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: The debate will come hours after news broke that President Donald Trump has fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a witness in the impeachment charges against the president, from his job at the White House. According to Vindman's attorney, Vindman was removed from his position at the White House and escorted from the White House grounds on Friday.Vindman's twin brother, Yevgeny, an attorney at the National Security Council who worked at the White House, was also fired.Late Friday, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union issued a statement saying he was being recalled from his post.Sondland was a key impeachment witness, who first testified in a closed session that there was no quid pro quo when it came to Trump and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, then changed his story when he testified in a public hearing in October. "I was advised today that the President intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union," Sondland said in the statement.
Live updates are beginning
7 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2020: Welcome to live updates from the Democratic presidential primary debate. The top Democratic candidates are in New Hampshire in advance of the New Hampshire primary which is on Tuesday.