Atlanta wasn’t the only one bringing the heat to the latest Democratic Primary Debate.
The fifth debate between frontrunners for the Democratic nomination for president took place at Tyler Perry Studios on Wednesday night. The 10 qualifying candidates sparred over many of the regularly discussed hot topics, such as health care, while also inviting in new discussions on opponent comments and the latest in President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings.
Whether you were unable to watch live or just want a refresher on the two-hour-long event, here are five key takeaways from the November Democratic Primary Debate:
The spotlight can sting
This is a lesson that both Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren learned during their rise in the polls, and Wednesday night, it was learned by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The mayor secured one of the inner four podiums, but his rise has been all but pleasant. Buttigieg faced even more criticism than before, including condemnation for his campaign using a stock photo of a Kenyan woman on his website as a visual for his plan to support African Americans in America. The mayor was also chastised by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for saying he’d be willing to send U.S. troops into Mexico, but the mayor claimed she drew that remark out of context.
Midwestern moderates stick together
Midwestern roots are an integral part of Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s politics, and the connection is apparent in their exchanges onstage. Similar to how Sen. Bernie Sanders and Warren are progressive allies, Klobuchar and Buttigieg opted to support one another throughout the night rather than offer criticism.
Klobuchar defended Buttigieg being qualified enough for the presidency through his time as mayor of South Bend. What’s equally as clear, however, is that East-coaster and former Vice President Joe Biden isn’t a part of this unique coalition. As the highest polling candidate on average, Biden continues to receive criticism from those equally and farther left than himself.
Climate change unites the party
While some popular issues, like health care, seem to divide the party, mitigating the effects of climate change is something that all candidates rallied behind. Candidate Tom Steyer went as far as to call climate change a national emergency. Sanders introduced the possibility of prosecuting the fossil fuel industry, and Biden added that climate change is one of the largest issues of the current political moment. Regardless of who receives the nomination, it can be assumed an assertive policy for combating climate change will be on their agenda.
Core groups in the party are important
The debate included a thorough discussion on race relations and women’s rights, including abortion and voter suppression. Candidates from various backgrounds reaffirmed their belief in reaching voters from across different races, genders, sexual orientations and more.
Buttigieg agreed with Harris that all constituencies in the Democratic Party need to be reached, including women of color. Buttigieg said he is committed to reaching voters who may not look like him. He cited his faith and own experiences as a gay man as reasons why he is making efforts to reach out to historically oppressed segments of the population.
Sen. Corey Booker also criticized Biden for saying he wouldn’t legalize marijuana earlier that week. Booker said he wondered if Biden was high when he made the comment, as Biden stresses his work with the African American community and that many in prison for marijuana charges are African American.
Impeachment or not, the country needs unity
Questions about Trump’s impeachment hearings dominated the beginning of the debate. Sanders called Trump the most corrupt president in U.S. history, and Klobuchar said she supported an impeachment trial, among other candidate’s responses.
Despite the topic of impeachment being so divisive, candidates often spoke of unity. Buttigieg reminded people that whatever president follows Trump will be tasked with unifying a nation more divided than ever before. Sanders also reminded fellow candidates if they focus too much on Trump, they won’t be able to properly address other big issues, such as climate change and health care. Along with climate action, unity remained one of the most overarching and reaffirmed topics of the night.