Democratic Debate: Immigration dominates 1st night of debate as candidates split

The lineup included Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke.

June 27, 2019, 12:04 AM

The first Democratic debates are here, and the 2020 contenders converged on Wednesday and will do so again on Thursday night in Miami.

11:29 p.m.: ABC News fact-checked the candidates on the issues. Here's what we found

ABC News fact-checked the first of two Democratic presidential debates in Miami between Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Jay Inslee, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former Rep. John Delaney, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Rep. Tim Ryan and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Here's what we found.

11:09 p.m. ABC News Political commentator Cokie Roberts says the debate lineup sang "from the same hymnal"

The Democrats, having shown us a stage full of the most diverse candidates in history, concluded their debate mostly singing from the same hymnal.

They all insisted that they could change politics, make government work for the average American rather than the corporate bigwigs and they all promised to fight for that average American.

Some of them wanted us to know how they had risen from humble backgrounds, some of them wanted us to know that they could work to get things done, all of them wanted us to know that they support abortion rights and worry about gun violence and climate change. And each of them insisted that she or he was the person to defeat Donald Trump.

The differences were around the margins, making it clear that at some point they should be able to come together to support a nominee and fight to elect that person.

But that was debate number one.

Tomorrow we get the bomb thrower, Bernie Sanders, and then we see where the Democratic party goes from there.

11:00 p.m. The closing statements from all 10 candidates

Each candidate was given 45 seconds for closing remarks, here are some of the highlights:

Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney: "Together, we are on a mission. We're on a mission to find the America that's been lost. Lost through infighting, lost through inaction. We're so much better than this."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio: "It matters in this fight for the heart and soul of our party that we nominate a candidate who has seen the face of poverty and didn’t just talk about it, but gave people $15 minimum wage...With your help, we can put working people first again in America."

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidates
Rep. Tim Ryan, Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard participate in the NBC News Democratic Candidates debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, on June 26, 2019.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee: "When I was thinking about whether to run for president, I made a decision. I decided that on my last day on Earth, I wanted to look them in the eye and tell them I did everything humanly possible to protect them from the ravages of the climate crisis."

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan: "There's nothing worse than not being heard. Nothing worse than not being seen, and I know that because I've represented for 17 years in congress, a forgotten community. They've tried to divide us, who's white, who's black, who's gay, who's straight, who's a man, who's a woman, and they ran away with all the gold, because they divided the working class. It's time for us to come together."

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard: "Coming here to this country, instead putting in place a government that is of, by, and for the people. But that's not what we have. Instead, we have a government that is of, by, and for, the rich and powerful. This must end. As president, our white house, our white house, will be a beacon of light providing hope and opportunity."

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro: "If I'm elected president, I will work hard every single day so that you and your family can get good health care. Your child can get a good education. And you can have good job opportunities. Whether you live in a big city or a small town. And on January 20th, 2021, we'll say adios to Donald Trump."

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar: "I listen to people and that's how I get things done. That is my focus. I have a track record of passing over 100 bills where I'm the lead Democrat and that is because I listened and I acted. And I think that's important in a president."

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker: "I've taken on tough fights and we won. And we win those fights not by showing the worst of who we are, but rising to who's best."

Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke: "I'm on this stage for her, for children across this country. Including some her same age who have been separated from their parents and are sleeping on concrete floors under aluminum blankets tonight. If we're going to be there for them, if we're going to confront the challenges that we face, we can't return to the same old approach. We're going to need a new kind of politics."

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren: "I am in this fight because I believe that we can make our government, we can make our economy, we can make our country work. Not just for those at the top. We can make it work for everyone and I promise you this, I will fight for you as hard as I fight for my own family."

For more debate coverage, check out ABC News's fact checking of the candidates on the issues.

10:53 p.m.: Some Trump world reactions to Democratic debate

While President Donald Trump has kept his tweeting to a minimum during tonight's Democrat debate –weighing in with just a few quips, the Trump campaign has been active on Twitter throughout the night. Here's some reaction from Trump world to the debate so far.

Trump communication director Tim Murtaugh tells ABC News: "Democrat theme has already hardened on stage here: America is a terrible place." "No surprises. Klobuchar endorses open borders." (Sen. Klobuchar said she would "look" at Julian Castro's plan and did not outright endorse.)

Trump campaign aide tells ABC News: "It’s really an alternate universe from a policy perspective. I think most people expected Sen. Warren to own this and I’m not sure she has. And, I’m struck by how much oxygen the ladies are getting."

Trump campaign official tells ABC News: "Feels like the end [for Beto]."

10:51 p.m.: ABC News Political Director Rick Klein ponders why no Biden namechecks

I’m really shocked that former Vice President Joe Biden’s name has not been spoken once tonight. Candidates go where the votes are, and there are a whole lot of voters telling pollsters that they favor Biden. That will obviously change when Biden is on stage on Thursday. But Democrats worried about a party being shredded apart may take heart that the frontrunner didn’t take a single arrow on night one.

10:46 p.m.: Facts about 2020 candidates appearing in the first Democratic debate

As the debate enters a break, here are more facts about 2020 candidates appearing in the first Democratic debate.

The candidates include:

4 current or former Congressmen/women: O’Rourke, Gabbard, Delaney, Ryan3 Senators: Klobuchar, Booker, Warren2 current or former Mayors: Castro, de Blasio1 Governor: Inslee

They span an age range of 38 to 70 years old.

Oldest candidate: Elizabeth Warren: 70 years old. Youngest candidate: Tulsi Gabbard: 38 years old

Read more interesting stats here.

10:35 p.m.: 2020 Democrats take on issues within the LGBTQ community and appealing to a broader Democratic base

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard reiterates her change of heart on LGBTQ issues, after NBC host Chuck Todd noted that one of the first things she did did after launching your campaign, was issue an apology to the LGBTQ community, to which she asked, "Let me say there is no one in our government at any level who has the right to tell any American who they should be allowed to love or who they should be allowed to marry. My record in Congress for over six years shows my commitment to fighting for LGBTQ equality.I serve on the equality caucus and recently voted for passage of the equality act. Maybe many people in this country can relate to the fact I grew up in a socially conservative home -- held views when I was very young that I no longer hold today ... There are still people who are facing discrimination in the workplace, still people who are unable to find a home for their families. It is this kind of discrimination that we need to address."

Sen. Cory Booker chimed in on civil rights in the trans-community, specifically the high murder rates for African-American trans-people.

"We do not talk enough about trans-Americans. Especially African-American trans-Americans and the incredibly high rate of murder right now."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar highlighted her work with fellow 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Book on criminal justice reform and the First Step Act.

"We will work to make sure everyone can vote at this table. Everyone can vote in this country," she said. "Senator Booker and I worked on that First Step Act. We should go to the Second Step Act."

10:30 p.m.: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock offers counterprogramming in Iowa

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock might have missed the cutoff for the first Democratic debate, but that doesn't mean he was idle on Wednesday.

He began his afternoon in Des Moines, Iowa by stopping at Fong’s Pizza and Java Joe’s — two Des Moines Institutions — to pick up pizza and coffee for his campaign volunteers. At each stop, he conversed casually with local residents.

At the campaign offices in downtown Des Moines, he thanked staff and volunteers for their efforts. He spoke about the importance of human interactions. “Giving folks a reason to get engaged in the system, to believe that it can make a difference in their lives starts with that first phone call.”

He wrapped the day at a town hall centered on immigration reform. Bullock called the border wall “an 18th-century solution … to a 21st-century challenge.” Like many Democratic candidates, he emphasized the need to keep families together, widen the opportunity for asylum seekers, and create more paths to citizenship.

Bullock continually asserted his belief in the power of the federal government to incentivize change, citing such proposals as investing in affordable housing programs, reducing interest rates for student loans, and creating a matching program to raise teacher salaries at the state level.

When asked about his position on H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, Bullock proposed an alternative to a one-time reparations payment. “What I would propose is … addressing each of the specific places where historically, and contemporarily, we see significant disparities, and addressing those, one by one, until you do have, or your grandkids will have the same opportunities.”

Bullock might get a shot at the second round of Democratic debates in July.

10:28 p.m.: Jay Inslee and climate change get their moment in the spotlight

When asked about his climate change plan, the single issue at the forefront of his campaign, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said, "We are in the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we are the last that can do something about it. Our towns are burning. Our fields are flooding. Miami is inundated. And we have to understand this is a climate crisis, an emergency. And it is our last chance in the administration, next one, to do something about it. And we need to do what I've done in my state. We passed a 100% clean electrical grid bill. We now have a vision statement. My plan has been called the gold standard of putting people to work. But the most important thing on this, in the biggest decision for the American public, is, who's going to make this the first priority?"

Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke who also put out a climate change plan also took on the question, responding, "I think you've got to bring everybody into the decisions and the solutions to the challenges that we face. That's why we're traveling everywhere ... We in our administration are going to fund resiliency in those communities, in Miami, in Houston, Texas. Those places that are on the front lines of climate change today. We're going to mobilize $5 trillion in this economy over the next ten years. We're going to free ourselves from a dependence on fossil fuels and we’re gonna put farmers and ranchers in the driver's seat."

The other Texas on the stage, former Obama administration secretary Julian Castro, also spoke about climate change, replying, "If I'm elected president, the first thing I would do, like Senator Klobuchar also just said, sign an executive order recommitting us to the Paris climate accord."

Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney also interjected to say, "You just have to do it right. You can't put a price on carbon, raise energy prices and not give the money back to the American people. My proposal which is put a price on carbon, give a dividend back to the American people, it goes out one pocket, back in the other."

10:08 p.m.: Not far from Parkland, the candidates field questions on gun control

"The single hardest questions I have gotten, from a little boy and from a little girl and that is to say when you are president, how are you going to keep us safe," Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. "We can do the things that are sensible. We can do the universal background checks. We can ban the weapons of war, but we can also double down on the research and find out what really works. Where it is that we can make the differences at the margins that will keep our children safe... We need to treat this – like the virus that's killing our children."

"We can't treat this as an across-the-board problem. We have to treat it like a public health emergency," she added.

Sen. Cory Booker, who has introduced a gun reform plan, said, "For millions of Americans, this is not a policy issue, this is an urgency ... It is time we have bold actions and a bold agenda. I will get that done as president of the United States because this is not about policy. This is personal."

Booker attacked O'Rourke on gun reform saying: "One thing we all don't agree with when it comes to guns, I think it's common sense. Over 70% of Americans agree with me, if you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to buy and own a firearm. And not everybody in this field agrees with that."

When asked about active shooter drills, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro responded, "The answer is no, we don't have to accept that. On January 20th, 2021 at 12:01 P.M. We will have a Democratic president and a Democratic House and Democratic Senate."

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who said he supports "all the gun reforms here," before adding, "We need to start dealing with the trauma that our kids have. We need trauma-based care in every school. We need social and emotional learning in every school."

Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke discussed how he would talk about gun control on the trail in his home state, as one of the reddest states, "Those weapons of war were designed to kill people as effectively and efficiently as possible. They should belong on the battlefield and not in our communities. If someone poses a danger to themselves or to someone else, they're stopped before it's too late. What I found in each one of those 254 counties is that Democrats and independents and Republicans, gun owners and non-gun owners alike agreed."

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pointed to his African-American son as personal motivation to address gun reform.

The New York City mayor, invoked his son when discussing gun control reform, on Wednesday night, saying, "I also want to say there’s something that sets me apart from all my colleagues running in this race. And that is for the last 21 years, I've been raising a black son in America. And I have had to have very, very serious talks with my son, Dante, about how to protect himself on the streets of our city and all over this country including how to deal with the fact he has to take special caution because there have been too many tragedies between our young men and our police, too."

10:07 p.m. ABC News Political commentator Cokie Roberts analyzes the importance of making an impression during debates

One of the things we’ve learned from debates over the decades is that how candidates come across can be as important, or even more important than what they say. Maybe that shouldn’t be the case, but traditionally it has been.

One of the worse things a candidate can do is talk in Congress-speak. So Castro’s constant reference to Section 1325 is likely to fall on mostly deaf ears. Sen. Amy Klobuchar sometimes sinks into that as well.

Anger usually doesn’t work well either, and that’s a problem for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. And a sense that a candidate isn’t the genuine article can be problematic. former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke needs to be wary there.

Sen. Cory Booker seems at the moment to be winning the "most appealing" contest. But Sen. Elizabeth Warren is so much herself and saying things that are so popular with many Democrats that she’s still the one to watch.

10:02 pm: ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd "am surprised the candidates haven’t taken the battle more to President Trump"

Fascinating debate so far from a couple of perspectives:

I am surprised the candidates haven’t taken the battle more to President Trump. The negative views of the president unite the Democrats and it is the number one reason they are looking for a candidate. To find someone who can take on and beat him in November. Seems like a missed opportunity so far by most of the candidates.

The candidates are taking on each other more directly than I thought they would this early. It looks like some of the candidates who are polling at 1 or 2% feel this is one of their last opportunities to move up in the polls in time for the September debate which will raise the cut-off. Also, in this vein, those candidates seem to believe Beto O’Rourke is vulnerable and are taking it to him.

Senator Warren had the best first 20 minutes of the debate. She was clear and had an easily understandable thematic that she annunciated well. In the second half of debate, she disappeared and didn’t jump in when she could have. She needs to assert herself more on non-economic issues in future debates.

9:55 p.m. The debate turns to foreign policy amid tensions with Iran

Sen. Cory Booker was the first candidate to address the threats issued between both the U.S. and Iran under the current administration, responding, "First and foremost it was a mistake to pull out of that deal. One of the reasons we're seeing this hostility now, Donald Trump is marching us to a far more dangerous situation."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar said of the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, "It was imperfect but it was a good deal for that moment. Donald Trump told us when he got out of it that he was going to give us a better deal. Those were his words. And now we are a month away from the Iranians who claim now that they're going to blow the cap on enriching uranium.He's made us less safe than we were when he became president. So what I would do is negotiate us back into that agreement."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: "This president is literally, every single day, 10 minutes away from going to war. One tweet away from going to war. And I don't think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5:00 in the morning." #DemDebate

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 27, 2019
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