(LR) The billionaire and philanthropist of Democratic President Tom Steyer, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, South Bend, Indiana Mayor, Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator , Amy Klobuchar, stand in front of the seventh Democratic Party on stage for a major debate on the 2020 presidential campaign hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register on January 14, 2020 on the Drake University campus in Des Moines, Iowa.
Kerem Yucel | AFP | Getty Images
The democratic presidential candidates of 2020 were on stage for the last time on Tuesday before the nomination competitions began.
A largely warm primary race has become a controversial race in the past few days, and it's less than three weeks to February 3 in Iowa, the first time a state awards delegates in 2020.
Tuesday's democratic debate, hosted by the Des Moines Register and CNN, took place at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
The tougher the qualification standards for the debate and the more candidates drop out of the race, the lower the number of participants. Only six democratic candidates together took the stage on Tuesday in a field that has become older and whiter with increasing narrowing.
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
- Billionaire activist Tom Steyer
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Candidates had to deal with their qualifications for almost 30 minutes to cope with the rising specter of war in the Middle East after the United States killed Quran Iranian Colonel General Qasem Soleimani earlier this month. The candidates have tried to use their foreign policy records to gather support in the face of the heightened focus on Iran.
Sanders highlighted his opposition to the Iraq invasion in 2003 and urged last year to end US support for an intervention in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, Biden said he worked on ending the Iraq war during the Obama administration – while admitting that it was a "mistake" to authorize the use of military force in the country when he was in the Senate.
Sanders defended his decision as a member of the House of Representatives to vote for a military permit in Afghanistan and tried again to distance his Iraq record from Bidens.
"I went down and did everything I could to prevent this war. Joe saw it differently," he said.
Klobuchar, asked if she would remove forces from the Middle East, said she would "leave some troops there". Warren meanwhile claimed that "we have to get our combat troops out". Buttigieg, an Afghan veteran, criticized the president for sending more troops to the region.
Candidates were asked if they would meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un like President Donald Trump. In Iowa, a country hit by the President's trade war with China, rivals also fought over their trade records.
Sanders and Warren discussed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a revised North American trade agreement that the US is expected to ratify this week. Sanders, arguing that it wasn't going far enough to tackle climate change, said, "We can do much better than a Trump-led trade deal."
Warren said Iowa farmers "hurt" and highlighted improvements to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Sanders also contrasted his opposition to NAFTA and the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership with Biden's support for both trade pacts, saying the two candidates had a "fundamental disagreement".
Tensions escalated among the top candidates in the days leading up to the debate. Warren said Monday that Sanders told her during a 2018 meeting that a woman could not win the presidential election.
When asked about the remark during the debate, Sanders replied: "I didn't say it."
Warren seemed to admit that her rival had said it, but added that "Bernie is my girlfriend and I am not here to try to fight Bernie." She then stressed that she and Klobuchar won all of their elections – while the men on stage lost 10 elections together.
Recent polls in Iowa have shown that four Democrats are realistic about winning the majority of delegates to national first meetings. According to a RealClearPolitics survey average, Biden has 20.7% of the support, roughly even with Sanders at 20.3%.
Buttigieg and Warren followed with 18.7% and 16%, respectively.
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