Sunday 25 August 2019

Warren stakes strong claim to be Democrats' challenger in 2020

Debate: Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke. Photo: AP
Debate: Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke. Photo: AP

Andrew Buncombe

Elizabeth Warren has sharply raised the stakes in the battle to become the Democrats' 2020 challenger to US President Donald Trump, dominating much of the party's first official debate with a promise to fight for voters "as hard as I fight for my own family".

On a night with 10 hopefuls on the stage and each seeking to make an impact, the senator from Massachusetts was clearly the top seed, albeit in the absence of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who were due to appear last night.

Ms Warren seized on that opportunity, answering the first question of the night with a strong defence of her views on the economy.

Asked if her vision - which includes support for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal - potentially risky, she replied: "I think of it this way. Who is this economy really working for?

"It's doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. It's doing great for giant drug companies. It's just not doing great for people who are trying to get a prescription filled."

At least 24 Democrats are seeking to be the candidate to take on Mr Trump, who tweeted from Air Force One on his way to Japan that the debate was "boring".

With 10 people participating in a format in which questions were asked about immigration, healthcare and foreign policy, seizing such an opportunity was a major challenge.

When the Democrats performed this exercise four years ago, there were just five candidates in total - Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb.

If Ms Warren was fast out of the gates, others sought to catch up, on a night when the broadcast was interrupted by technical problems.

Corey Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Tim Ryan will all have considered themselves to have had a decent evening, while Jay Inslee was able to double down on why he believed climate change to be the most important issue.

Most commentators agreed the candidate who most failed to seize the opportunity was Beto O'Rourke, the Texas congressman who impressed with his challenge last year of Republican Ted Cruz.

Google revealed the most searched-for candidate during the debate was Mr Booker, a New Jersey senator, who has failed to poll much higher than 3pc. Asked about gun violence, he was at his most impressive, calling for tougher regulations of firearms.

Irish Independent

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