/Houston Democratic debate: Live updates

Houston Democratic debate: Live updates

The third Democratic presidential primary debate will finally pit the top of the primary field against each other, with 10 candidates sharing the stage for a one-night, three-hour event Thursday.

The 2020 presidential hopefuls will debate live from Texas Southern University in Houston from 8 to 11 p.m. ABC News will broadcast the event in partnership with Univision.

The Democratic National Committee’s third debate is the first time front-runner Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-V.t, will face off. Recent polling of likely Democratic voters shows Biden with a comfortable lead, while Sanders and Warren jockey for second place.

The candidates are expected to deliver contrasting visions for where the Democratic Party should head in the future. During July’s DNC debate in Detroit, Warren and Sanders called for sweeping progressive proposals that drew criticism from moderates seeking the Democratic nomination.

Midwest issues were scarcely highlighted during the Detroit debate. Democrats are expected to focus on immigration and gun control, two critical issues for Texas voters rocked by recent mass shootings and a humanitarian crisis on the southern border.

A live-stream of the debate will be available on this ABC station’s website. It will also stream ABC News Live, ABCNews.com, Good Morning America and FiveThirtyEight websites and mobile phone apps, as well as Hulu Live, The Roku Channel, Facebook Watch, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube, Apple News, and Twitter.

10:45 p.m. – Debate ends

That’s it for tonight! Thank you for spending the debate with us and stay tuned for additional coverage in the following days.

10:35 p.m. – Buttigieg shares his decision to come out as gay

Toward the tail end of the debate, Democrats were asked to share their greatest professional setback.

Buttigieg talked about serving in the military under “don’t ask don’t tell,” the long-standing policy that prevented gay service members from being open about their sexuality. The South Bend, Ind. mayor is the first openly gay candidate to mount a major campaign for president.

“I came back from deployment and realized that you only get to live one life and I was not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer, so I just came out,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg said he was nervous about the decision, especially considering he was seeking reelection in South Bend. But voters ultimately didn’t see it as an issue.

Buttigieg is married to Chasten Glezman, a school teacher from Traverse City. Chasten visited Saugatuck to fundraise for Buttigieg earlier this year.

10:30 p.m. – Protesters disrupt debate

Protesters briefly disrupted the debate while Biden was asked to state his biggest professional setback. The hecklers were quickly removed from the venue.

It was difficult to hear what the protesters were saying, though they were loud enough to cause Biden to pause while they were ejected.

10 p.m. – Climate change gets the spotlight

Environmentalists have been pushing the DNC to make its primary candidates have a more robust discussion on climate change. The issue had its moment more than two hours into the debate Thursday.

Democrats pledged to carry forward ambitious proposals championed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who made climate action the central promise of his failed presidential bid.

Warren said one of the biggest barriers to progress is corporate interference. She said large companies have blocked meaningful policies from being adopted.

Democrats running for president largely agree that climate change is an impending disaster, using terminology like “global emergency,” and “existential threat” in their environmental agendas. Their deadlines for reducing fossil fuel emissions and creating a carbon-neutral economy aim to hit a 2050 target set by climate scientists.

Their aggressive plans call for investments ranging from $1 trillion to $16 trillion, which Democrats said is necessary to prevent greater financial impact from future climate disasters.

9:50 p.m. – Biden says he regrets authorizing force in Iraq

Biden said he made a mistake by voting to support the use of military force against Iraq in 2002.

Sanders said he never believed the Bush administration’s justifications for the war. Sanders voted against the war in Iraq, a key distinction he has tried to highlight on the campaign trail.

Buttigieg, a veteran of wars in the Middle East, said it’s time to end the “endless wars.” He proposed creating a three-year sunset on any use of force authorization approved by Congress.

9:30 p.m. – Democrats talk trade and Trump strategy

Democrats slammed Trump’s tariffs for costing American consumers money, saying the would work to quickly remove them while changing course on the president’s ongoing trade war with China.

“President Trump has pursued an arbitrary and haphazard trade policy,” Yang said.

Klobuchar said Trump’s trade war has cost 300,000 American jobs.

O’Rourke and Biden said America is going it alone, isolating the U.S. while it takes on China.

9 p.m. – Hell yeah, we’re going to take your AR-15

O’Rourke defended his plan to impose a mandatory government buyback of every assault weapon in the United States. The El Paso native briefly suspended his campaign after a mass shooting rocked his hometown, and reemerged with a strong stance against gun violence.

“Hell yeah, we’re going to take your AR-15,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke has been blunt about the need to take powerful weapons off the streets. A shirt went on sale recently on O’Rourke’s website reading “This is f****ed up.”

8:45 p.m. – Democrats pin blame for white supremacist violence on Trump

O’Rourke has revamped his campaign after a racially-motivated shooter killed more than 20 people in El Paso, his hometown. The shooter released a manifesto which stated he wanted to prevent an “invasion” of immigrants from flooding the U.S.

O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, directly called Trump a white supremacist and said he inspires violence. He said the shooter was “inspired to kill by our president.”

Castro also piled on, saying Democrats need to “get the white supremacist out of the White House.”

“A white supremacist drove 10 hours to shoot people that look like me and look like my family,” Castro said. “We have to root out white supremacy.”

Harris said Trump didn’t pull the trigger but is “tweeting out the ammunition.”

8:38 p.m. – Castro says Biden isn’t fulfilling Obama’s legacy

Castro lectured Biden on his former running mate, saying former President Barack Obama didn’t want to leave anyone without health insurance.

“I’m fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama and you’re not,” Castro said.

The remark caused Buttigieg to lament how the Democratic primary debates encourage candidates to take pot shots and count their zingers. Buttigieg said the debates are “unwatchable” because people don’t want to watch candidates bicker with each other.

“That’s called an election,” Castro said. “That’s why we’re here.”

8:20 p.m. – Health care pegged as the top issue

The first question of the night went to Biden, who was asked if Sanders and Warren are going too far by proposing a single-payer government run health care system that would end the private insurance market.

Health care dominated the opening of the debate, with candidates either arguing to beef up access to coverage though the existing system or adopting a new single-payer government-run system.

Biden said it’s up for American voters to decide, but aligned himself with former President Barack Obama. Biden wants to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature policy victory.

Sanders said Medicare-for-All is the most cost-effective approach to fix issues with the American health care system. He and Warren said their plans, which share many similarities, would bring down the price of prescription drugs and lower costs overall for middle class families.

Klobuchar said union workers would lose their hard-fought health insurance plans if private insurance markets are eliminated. Unions are a key constituency for Democrats seeking the nomination, particularly in Midwest states like Michigan.

8:05 p.m. – Julian Castro makes the first Michigan reference

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary was the first candidate to deliver opening remarks at the debate. Castro also made the first reference to Michigan, saying he can flip states won by Trump in 2016.

7:50 p.m. – Democrats take the debate stage

From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro are introduced Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

AP

From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro are introduced Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The top 10 candidates in the Democratic primary took the stage, pitting all of the front-runners against each other for the first time. Another 10 candidates did not meet the debate threshold but haven’t suspended their campaigns.

Candidates participating in the debate include: Former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

7:45 p.m. – It’s almost game time

Democrats tweeted out short messages to hype up their supporters before taking the stage. Here are a few:

7:35 p.m. – Texas Democratic chair mourns recent gun victims

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said his state still mourns the lives lost in recent shootings that rocked El Paso, Midland and Odessa.

“Change is coming because Republican would have you believe that gun violence is inevitable,” Hinojosa said. “We all know that it is not.”

DNC Chairman Tom Perez also brought up the “darkness” of gun violence during his remarks before the debate. Perez said Republicans have been ineffective in passing legislation to reduce the threat of mass shootings.

“This is an epidemic in this country,” Perez said. “We have reached a point where we talked about last month’s shooting in Texas and the question you gotta ask is which one.”

7:30 p.m. – Pre-debate polling shows who voters think can beat Trump

Democratic voters in Michigan told MLive on the campaign trail they are prioritizing “electable” in their choice of nominee. Ultimately, the Democratic primary winner will have to take on Trump.

FiveThirtyEight partnered with Ipsos to track how Thursday’s debate affects likely primary voters feelings on the candidates.

Before the debate, there weren’t any surprises about who voters thought had the best chance to beat Trump. In order, voters thought Biden, Sanders, Warren and Harris had the bets shot.

Read more of the poll’s insights here.

7 p.m. – Republicans take aim at ‘socialism’

The Republican National Committee has framed the Democratic primary field as a group of “socialists” who would reverse the economic accomplishments of the Trump administration.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel criticized Democrats’ environmental agendas, saying proposals to ban fracking and set targets to reduce carbon emissions amount to an overreach of government power.

Democrats running for president largely agree that climate change is an impending disaster, using terminology like “global emergency,” and “existential threat” in their plans. Deadlines for reducing fossil fuel emissions and creating a carbon-neutral economy aim to hit a 2050 target set by climate scientists.

Their aggressive plans call for investments ranging from $1 trillion to $16 trillion, which Democrats said is necessary to prevent greater financial impact from future climate disasters.

A July poll conducted on behalf of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters found climate change and the environment are key issues among 77% of likely Michigan voters. Of 665 voters surveyed, 55% said they would be more likely to support a candidate that makes addressing climate change a top priority.

6:50 p.m. – Trump checks in

The president is arrived in Baltimore, a city he recently slammed as “rodent infested,” to address House Republicans at the start of their three-day retreat. Protesters erected an inflatable rat Thursday, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Before leaving the White House, Trump said Warren, Biden and Sanders are his most likely opponents in the general election. The president is scheduled to deliver remarks at the GOP retreat Thursday night.

Trump didn’t say much during the last two debates, but there’s always the chance he could weigh in on Twitter. Trump wrote a greeting to the city from his motorcade shortly after arriving on the social media platform.

5:30 p.m. – Michigan lawmakers endorse Joe Biden

Four African American Democratic legislators representing Detroit endorsed Biden hours before the debate.

State Sen. Marshall Bullock, and state Reps. Joe Tate, Karen Whitsett and Tenisha Yancey, endorsed the former vice president, according to the campaign. The Biden camp touted new endorsements from 59 black legislators from 15 states.

“We are building a diverse coalition to create a path to the nomination that runs through the early states, Super Tuesday, and beyond.” said Campaign Manager Greg Schultz. “The endorsements of local elected officials who are committed to getting things done for their communities are imperative in our campaign’s fight for the soul of America and to defeat Donald Trump.”

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