Democratic divisions laid bare in feisty TV debate
Ten Democrats have clashed in the first TV debate of the race to oust President Donald Trump from the White House.
Liberal firebrand Elizabeth Warren, who has been gaining momentum, took centre stage at the heated forum in Florida.
Candidates sparred over healthcare and immigration, and a couple of underdogs gulped much-needed political oxygen with a few well-timed zingers.
Ten other Democrats in the crowded field, including Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, were to battle yesternight.
Millions of voters were expected to tune in for America’s biggest political debates in years.
The eventual Democratic White House nominee will be crowned at the party convention in July next year, before the presidential election in November.
In the two-hour debate in Miami, the candidates at times engaged in shouting matches as they vied to grab the limelight.
Ms Warren, who has been surging in opinion polls, was one of only two contenders to say she supports replacing private medical insurance with government-run healthcare.
Taking aim at her rivals, Ms Warren drew loud applause as she said: “There are a lot of politicians who say, ‘oh, it’s just not possible’… what they’re really telling you is, they just won’t fight for it.”
“Well, healthcare is a basic human right and I will fight for basic human rights.”
Only New York Mayor Bill de Blasio backed her.
But Senator Amy Klobuchar said: “I am just simply concerned about kicking half of America off of their health insurance in four years.”
John Delaney also warned against such a policy.
Beto O’Rourke, another ex-congressman, was first to show off his command of Spanish, saying that a stable democracy should “listen to all voices”.
But the one-time liberal golden boy found himself under heated attack from Julian Castro, the only Latino in the race.
Mr Castro challenged Mr O’Rourke to support his plan to decriminalise illegal immigration, lecturing his fellow Texan to “do your homework”.
Two little-known candidates bickered over foreign policy, underscoring disunity among Democrats about overseas intervention.
Congressman Tim Ryan insisted the US must stay “completely engaged” in the Middle East.
But Tulsi Gabbard, an anti-war congresswoman, hit back: “Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan?” –BBC