Democratic candidates face off ahead of New Hampshire primary: Part 1

Seven candidates vying for the Democratic nomination took to the ABC News debate stage days after a chaotic Iowa caucus and four days before the New Hampshire primary.
8:44 | 02/08/20

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Transcript for Democratic candidates face off ahead of New Hampshire primary: Part 1
We're in Manchester, new Hampshire tonight, home of the final democratic debate before the high-stakes primary next week. They are hoping to prove to voters they are ready it to be commander in chief. Here's ABC's David Wright. Reporter: Tonight in new Hampshire, all of the Democrat Democrats came out swinging, not at each other but at Donald Trump. Everyone is united. No matter who wins this damn thing we're going to stand together. If you want to beat this president, we've got to be ready to move on from the playbook that we have relied on in the past and unify this country around a new and better vision. We have a president that literally blames everyone in the world, and we have not talked about this enough. He blames Barack Obama for everything that goes wrong. He blames the prime minister of Canada for, he claims, cutting him out of the Canadian version of "Home alone 2." Who does that? That's what Donald Trump does. He is a symptom of a disease that has been building up in our communities for years and decades. You have to have experience to take him down. This is not a question of he's a nice guy who's going to listen. We need people with experience. That's why I'm worried about mayor Pete. Reporter: Afterward in the spin room, several candidates made the case to Tom llamas that they're up to the case of taking on Donald Trump. I've taken worst incoming than a tweet full of typos. I think bringing our party is about fighting. It's about fighting for working people. It's about fighting for America's middle class. Reporter: Tonight's criticisms aside. Madam speaker! The president of the united States! Reporter: This has been a pretty good week for the president. Four more years! Reporter: On Tuesday, he was triumphant at the state of the union, knowing the very next day senate Republicans would vote to clear him. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. Reporter: Final tally, 52-48, with Mitt Romney the lone Republican voting against trump. Today trump wouldn't say which Democrat worries him most. Everybody's a threat. I view everybody as a threat. Reporter: He's too busy enjoying a victory lap. So now they have a failed impeachment hoax. They can put that on their race Reporter: Celebrating his acquittal. It's a celebration, because we have something that just worked out. Reporter: He hasn't exactly minced words. It was all . Reporter: Speaker Pelosi hasn't minced words either. She defended the Democrats' decision to pursue impeachment, even though there was always a slim chance the senate would remove trump. You're impeached forever. You're never getting rid of that scar. Reporter: Today the white house started a purge, taking aim at some of the civil servants who they believe crossed trump, among them, lieutenant colonel Alexander vindman who testified the in the house impeachment hearing. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth. Reporter: Kyra Phillips asked trump about possible vendettas. Your press secretary said your political opponents should pay. Reporter: The writing was on the wall. Mr. President, would you like to see Alexander vindman out of your white house? Well, I'm not happy with him. Reporter: Later in the day, vindman was kicked out of the white house. He should have been pinning a medal on vindman and not rush Limbaugh. I think we should all stand and give colonel vindman a show of how much we support him. Reporter: Apparently, he's not alone. There's late word tonight ambassador sondland has been abruptly recalled from the eu. Not on stage because he's not competing in the early states, billionaire Mike Bloomberg. The president seems to view the Republican party as a cult that will defend anything he says or does, no matter how lawless or reckless. There are millions of people who can desire to run for office, but I guess if you're worth $60 billion, and you can spend several hundred million on commercials, you have a slight advantage. That is nonsense. I don't think anyone ought it to be able to buy their way into a nomination or to be president of the United States. Reporter: Pete buttigieg and Bernie Sanders came out of Iowa in the lead. Joe Biden, running a distant fourth in Iowa, sought to lower expectations here too. I took a hit in Iowa, and I'll probably take a hit here. Reporter: On health care tonight, Biden went on the Bernie's plan costs double, double what the taxpayers are paying. Reporter: Taking aim at one of Sanders' signature promises. Health care for all. Who's going to pay for it? It will cost more than the entire, the entire federal budget we spend now. Reporter: David Muir pressed buttigieg about his criticism of Biden's vote to authorize war in Iraq. You say it's the difference between tenure and judgment, it's the tenure that matters, not the time in Washington. Vice president Biden voted yes. Do you believe your judgment would be better than the vice president's? I believe I have the judgment to help us get through these situations where obviously, the vice president made the wrong decision. When it came to such an important moment in our foreign policy. I made a mistake. I said it 14 years ago. I trusted George Bush to keep his word. He said he was not going to go into Iraq. He said he was only using this to unite the united nations. Reporter: Sanders chimed in on that. I also heard the arguments in terms of the war on Iraq in bush, from Cheney and the whole administration. I listened very carefully and concluded that they were lying through their teeth. Reporter: Tonight, Sanders was asked about Hillary Clinton's recent comments sharply critical of him just yesterday on "Ellen." If you can't deliver the moon, that's one more indicator of how we just can't trust each Our job is to look forward and not back to 2016. And I hope that secretary Clinton and all of us can move together in that direction. Reporter: One big theme tonight was how best to appeal to all Americans. Look, we got to stop taking the black community for granted. That's the starting place. I'm glad to stand on this stage with my fellow Democrats who talk about how important the black community is, at least at election time. Year after year after year, election after election after election, Democrats go to people in the black community and say boy, we really care about these issues, racism is terrible. We all want to do something. And then somehow the problem seems to keep getting worse. Reporter: Criminal justice issues came up in that context. How do you explain the increase in black arrests in South Bend under your leadership for marijuana possession? And, again, the overall rate was lower -- No, there was an increase. The year before you were in office, it was lower. Reporter: Buttigieg has struggled to attract support among African-Americans. These things are all connected. But that's the point. So are all the things we need to change to remove violence and the effects of racism, from economy, health, housing and our democracy itself. Senator Warren, is that a substantial answer from mayor No. Reporter: At the heart of this democratic debate, whether to beat trump, the party needs to excite the base or unite the middle. Whether energy or experience matters more. And most importantly, who has the total package to beat trump? I'm a fresh face up here for a presidential debate, and I figure, Pete, that 59, my age, is the new 38 up here. The second thing I think about is this. And that -- A good 50. Meeting the moment. Reporter: Next Tuesday, new Hampshire voters get their moment. I'm David Wright for "Nightline" in Washington.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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