In second night of debate, Democrats tangle with each other but keep spotlight on Trump

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Former Vice President Joe Biden got slammed from several Democrats on the debate stage Wednesday night. That’s what happens to any front runner. But unlike the last debate, he withstood the incoming fire, and at times, threw his own jabs against his rivals’ policy positions.

Still, President Trump remained public enemy number one during the nearly three hour debate. Biden repeated his clear rationale for why he’s running: to restore the soul of America from this spirit-killing President. 

Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, said, referring to Team Trump’s MAGA mantra, “I don’t want to make America, anything. again, I don’t want us to go backward, we’re not going back to the past. We’re not going back where we came from. We’re going to move forward. We’re going to make America better than it’s ever been in the years to come.”

Healthcare, immigration, and race were once again focal points, as they were during last night’s debate, with the group of ten Democrats who took the stage in Detroit Wednesday night. 

Healthcare is broken

The candidates, like the entire Democratic Party, agreed the health care system is broken. But things got a little heated as Biden, the front runner, and Harris, who is gaining steam, went after each other’s plans. 

Harris told the crowd she backed her version of Medicare for All. Biden stood his ground on his plan to build on Obamacare with a public-option and pushed back against Medicare for All. He called criticism of Obamacare “a bunch of malarkey.”

“No one has to keep their private insurance. They can buy into this plan. And they can buy into it with $1,000 deductible and never have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income when they do it,” Biden said, later decrying Bernie’s plan for adding a “deductible” to the amount of taxes Americans pay.

Race

The ongoing dust-up between Biden and Harris on racial segregation continued, with the California senator holding the Vice President’s feet to the fire on his comments earlier this year about his time working with segregationists in the Senate.

“Let’s be clear about this, had those segregationists their way, I would not be in the United States Senate,” Harris said. She also said regarding Biden’s position on busing early in his Senate career: “The vice president has still failed to acknowledge that it was wrong to take the position that he took at that time.”

Immigration debate rages on

Once again, Castro stood out on immigration, an issue he’s led the primary field on, including proposing a “Marshall Plan” for Central America to help countries afflicted by poverty and violence in order to curb migration to the U.S.

When Castro was asked about decriminalizing illegal border crossings, a controversial position he challenged Beto O’Rourke on during the first debate last month, Castro again repeated his argument: Family separations would only end when migrants faced civil, not criminal, penalties.

Others on the stage said getting rid of Trump would end the family separations. 

In the spin room following the debate, Castro said, “It’s clear that Joe Biden and others are running out of fear on the issue of immigration.”

The next debate has candidates duking it out in Houston in September. Thankfully, all 20 Democrats running for President won’t be on the debate stage in the fall, since the qualifying rules are more stringent. Unlike his fellow Texan, O’Rourke, Castro has yet to qualify for the next debate.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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