All the Key Moments from the First Democratic Debate

The 2020 race is officially on! With 20 candidates eyeing the Democratic Presidential Nomination, the first round of debates has been split into two nights, the first on Wednesday in Miami, and the second following on Thursday night. 10 candidates kicked off the debate, making their pitch to voters on topics like immigration, abortion and climate change. 

If you’ve been lukewarm about keeping up with politics this season, we get it (and depleting mental health from all the news on Twitter is very real). But this is the most diverse candidate lineup in history, and for the first time ever there’s more than one woman taking the stage. So for college women across the country, there’s a lot at stake and also a lot to look forward to. 

Here are the night one highlights and biggest takeaways. 

1. Candidates were sensitive to include LGBTQIA+ communities in their answers

In what felt new for a Presidential debate, the trans community was included in conversation. Julian Castro, the Former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development asserted that they shouldn’t be left out when discussing reproductive rights. 

Later in the evening, Senator Cory Booker emphasized the need to address the “incredibly high rates of murder,” especially of African Americans, within the LGBTQIA+ community. 

2. Women’s rights & equal pay 

Senator Amy Klobuchar quickly made note that all three women on the stage (Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard) have fought for reproductive rights. Perhaps the boldest statement on the issue was Senator Warren explaining she wanted to make Roe vs. Wade a federal law in order to solidify abortions and a woman’s right to choose beyond the court system. 

Julian Castro, who was raised by a single parent, promised that if elected he would pass the Equal Rights amendment to ensure equal pay for equal work.

3. Only two candidates support the abolition of private insurance

Healthcare is a hot topic that is deeply intertwined into other social issues ranging from education to class to race, so it was natural for candidates to expect questions about their stance on private insurance. (Quick Definition: Private insurance is any health insurance policy purchased by an employer or by an individual from a private insurance company.) 

Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Bill de Blasio both support eliminating private insurance. Warren emphasized that she stood with another Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Medicare For All (Quick Definition: Medicare, which has been around since 1965, is the government-run health insurance program that covers all Americans 65 and older and is funded by taxpayers.)

4. Warren has a plan for that

Warren has been polling well lately, potentially due to rolling out policy after policy – and even finding time to help a Twitter user make a plan for her love life. 

During the first hour of the debate, she spoke about her stance for Medicare For All and explained how the hardest question she has answered in her town-hall tours has been from kids worried about gun violence at their school. She concluded the debate by promising Americans she’d fight to make the government work for them.

5. Inslee’s not going down without fighting climate change

While each of the Democratic candidates have been vocal about the need to address climate change, the Governor of Washington Jay Inslee wants to be able to tell his grandchildren he did everything he possibly could to fight climate change. While Inslee had the least amount of speaking time, he passionately detailed what he’s done in his state to create clean jobs, adding that he wants to implement more jobs in clean energy across the United States.

6. Gun violence silence

Booker mentioned he didn’t understand how someone could buy a gun without a license, but that driving a car without a license is illegal. Sen. Amy Klobuchar briefly touched on a buy-back program for assault weapons. 

For young people, gun violence is one of the most important issues and viewers felt the topic wasn’t addressed by many of the candidates. 

7. An economy for everyone

Dodging the question about his thoughts on a tax rate on the countries richest people, Beto O’Rourke insisted that the economy needs to work for everyone. Warren, however, has adamantly stated that the economy needs to work for more people than just the top 1% of earners.

The second democratic debate will be hosted by NBC on June 27 and feature frontrunners in the race including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.