2020 democratic presidential candidates take to the stage for their fourth debate as the race for the Whitehouse heats up


Erica Schindler

On Oct. 15, 2019, 12 candidates for the democratic nomination participated in a debate held at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. The debate was hosted by The New York Times and CNN. To qualify for this debate, candidates had to meet certain requirements set by the Democratic National Committee. They had to have at least 130,000 individual donors (including at least 400 donors per state in at least 20 states) and have at least 2% support in four DNC-approved polls.
The candidates who qualified for the debate were Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Juliàn Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders, entrepreneur Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Moderators Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and Marc Lacey asked the candidates questions on topics including healthcare and gun violence. Sanders and Warren debated with Buttigieg and Klobuchar on their Medicare for All healthcare policy. This has been a divisive issue between the candidates and led to some of the more heated moments of this debate.
Warren, a frontrunner in the race for the nomination, came under attack several times during the debate. Regarding Medicare for All, Klobuchar accused her of being dishonest for declining to say whether taxes would go up for the middle class under her plan.
“We owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice,” Klobuchar said.
Yang’s proposed ‘Freedom Dividend’, a universal income plan that would give every American adult $1,000 per month, received more attention during this debate than others. Gabbard said that she agrees with Yang’s proposal, while Warren said that it would not solve the broad problems that middle-class families are facing.
“Universal basic income is a good idea to help provide that security so people can make choices that they want to see,” Gabbard said.
Near the end of the debate, the moderator asked about the impact a candidate’s age and health can have on their campaign for the presidency. Biden replied by saying that his age and experience make him wiser. Sanders was recently hospitalized for a heart attack he experienced on the campaign trail. The senator responded by saying that he was feeling healthy and thanked his supporters and fellow candidates for their support.
“I’m so happy to be back here with you this evening,” Sanders said.
The last question of the night asked each candidate to share an unusual friendship they had, in the spirit of the recent story of Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush’s friendship. The candidates answered, but some later expressed frustration at the question. Casto tweeted that the moderators should have instead touched upon more important issues that did not come up in the debate, such as immigration.