Recap: Final Debate before Iowa Caucuses

This is what happened during the debate.
Candidates from Tuesday's Democratic debate: former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Tom Steyer. Chris Carlson / AP

Six Democratic presidential candidates battled it out on stage in Iowa during the Des Moines Register Democratic presidential debate. Here is the full recap:

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer participated in the debate. Unfortunately, Michael Bennett, Michael Bloomberg, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Deval Patrick, Andrew Yang did not qualify for the debate.

Foreign Policy

Candidates passionately battled it out; the candidates differed over leaving troops in the Middle East. Candidates made no secret in criticizing President Trump’s foreign policy. CNN Wolf Blitzer asked, “Why are you best prepared—the best-prepared person on this stage to be commander in chief?”

Sanders answered by citing his opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

“I not only voted against the war, I helped lead the effort against that war,” he said.

Sanders also called Biden out for his 2002 support of the Iraq War. Sanders and Biden listened to arguments Republicans like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld were making for entering the Iraq War.

Sanders, then responded.

“I thought they were lying. I didn’t  believe them for a moment. Joe saw it differently.”




The candidates were forced to dive deeper into questions of how they would use and handle military force as commander-in-chief than in previous debates. Foreign policy was fresh in the minds of several candidates who turned to referencing the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan. Candidates also took the opportunity to stress their views on national security, thanks to the recent event of President Trump ordering the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.


In the debate, Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg responded to the question regarding his struggle to attract black voters. Buttigieg answered, “The black voters who know me best are supporting me.” The Former Mayor also said, “The biggest mistake we can make is to take black voters for granted, and I never will.” Buttigieg added, “If you’re a voter of color feeling taken for granted by politics, as usual, join me.” Buttigieg speaks of most of the black voters in his South Bend community. The Mayor has received skeptic responses on social media.


Warren turned up the heat addressing transgender issues; she acknowledged that transgender women of color were murdered at a high rate.

Sanders’ interaction with Warren in a 2018 meeting where it was said that ” a woman couldn’t win the presidency” came up in the debate. Furthermore, Sanders firmly denied having said that. Warren’s response to Sanders was “I disagreed,” and continued with “Bernie is my friend, and I’m not here to fight with Bernie”.

Warren stood firm on gender and how it affects candidates in the Democratic presidential election. Senator Warren gave a fiery response, pointing out that the women on the stage had a better record of winning. Warren said, “The men on this stage collectively have lost 10 elections,” adding, “The women on this stage haven’t lost any”.

Health care

Sanders stood firm that Medicare-for-all would not “bankrupt the country”. This decree prompted Klobuchar to call out Sanders for not detailing how the costs for the plan would be covered. The issues of this topic erupted when Sanders was asked, “You refuse to say exactly how much you’re medicare for all plan will cost. Don’t voters deserve to see the price tag before you send them a bill that could cost tens of trillions of dollars?”

Sanders returned with:

Medicare-for-all, which will guarantee comprehensive health care to every man, woman, and child will cost substantially less than the status quo.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar pushed back on Warren’s proposal to transition to Medicare-for-all over a three year period in which Americans could join a government-run health plan. Warren had released the transition plan in November, after Buttigieg attacked her for not specifying how she would achieve Medicare-for-all. Klobuchar questioned Warren on her past proposal plan to “kick 149 million Americans off of there current health insurance,” then a few months noted to wait awhile to get there. She suggested Warren acknowledged that it is true. Klobuchar, then said that the non-profit public option is the best solution; and, she led the Medicare bill with 34 cosponsors, and decreed as president she will get it done.

Warren and Sanders Clash

After the debate, Warren and Sanders had a questionable interaction, but what was is it about? Seconds before the debate ended Warren shook hands with Tom Steyer and Joe Biden. When Sanders extended his hand, Warren opted not shake his hand, instead appearing to engage him in a tense conversation. “You have two candidates, they got different recollections of the event. Voters are gonna have to look at those and make their own decision,” Senior Advisor Jeff Weaver told NBC News. Neither Weaver nor top surrogate Nina Turner spoke to Sanders afterwards about the awkward exchange between him and Warren at the conclusion of the debate.

The 8th Democratic debate will take place right before the New Hampshire primary. It’s slated for February 7 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The debate is the first of a trio happening that month as individuals in all four early states head to the polls. While the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hasn’t announce the requirements yet, candidates will need to hit higher polling and donor rates than the ones they qualified for in this debate.



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