Candidates Rally for the First 2020 Democratic Debate

June 27, 2019 - 6:10 am

(WCBS 880) -- Ten Democrat presidential hopefuls debated on stage Wednesday night for the first time.

The first presidential debate of the 2020 season featured two local candidates, Mayor de Blasio and Senator Cory Booker.

Health care and immigration, were the debates hot topics, with candidates such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, calling for "fundamental change" across the nation's economy and government to address a widening gap between the rich and the middle class.

"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," Warren declared shortly before raising her hand as one of the only Democrats on stage willing to abolish her own private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan. "Health care is a basic human right, and I will fight for basic human rights."

Another 10 candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden , take their turn debating Thursday night.

Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio backed abolishing private health insurance while former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota favored preserving the private insurance market.

O'Rourke said people who like their health care plans should be able to keep them. "We preserve choice," he said.

Immigration was a major topic as the candidates referenced the photos of a drowned Salvadoran father and his toddler daughter at the Rio Grande, blaming Trump and his policies concerning migrants crossing into America illegally.

"Watching that image of Oscar and his daughter Valeria was heartbreaking," said former Obama administration housing chief Juli?n Castro. "It should also piss us all off."

Castro also criticized O'Rourke for not calling for fully decriminalizing crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

"I just think it's a mistake, Beto," he said, adding that O'Rourke would agree with him "if you did your homework on this issue."

O'Rourke said that he doesn't support fully decriminalizing such border crossings, fearing smugglers of drugs and people.

Three candidates and a moderator spoke Spanish at times, while New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who's black, talked about the violence that left seven people in his own urban neighborhood shot last week.

Booker spoke for nearly 11 minutes in last night's debate, more than anyone else on stage and was also the most googled candidate

Inslee boasted that he alone among the 10 had signed a bill on reproductive rights for women.

Klobuchar spoke up for the women on stage: "I just want to say there's three women up here who have fought pretty hard for a woman's right to choose."

Trump tweeted his take on the night: "BORING!"