ABC News Democratic debate showcases hits on ascendant Buttigieg; strong performance by Klobuchar
The contenders made their case as the primary season officially heats up.
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Iowa's final results from the first contest of the presidential cycle remain unclear, despite reaching 100% of precincts reporting late Thursday, but since the returns started slowly trickling in, the ground of the 2020 race has shifted, with the Democrats more openly and aggressively drawing contrasts between each other over their competing visions for the country.
They brought the disputes they’ve battled out on the campaign trail to the debate stage.
Here's how the night unfolded.
11:55 p.m. Steyer addressed his controversial investment past
ABC News Contributor Rahm Emanuel presses Steyer on the potential hypocrisy of his political views considering his past investments.
"A couple of times I made mistakes including in fossil fuels. People keep bringing up that I invested in fossil fuels and we did," Steyer said. "I walked away from my business because I wanted to make sure that, in fact, all the things I believed in are true, and I made those decisions a long time ago before I decided to run for office on a moral basis."
Steyer said he was also wrong for past investments in for-profit prisons but adds that he's since worked to abolish them in California.
"I realized something was wrong, so I divested in it and moved on," he added.
11:40 p.m. Klobuchar talked education in the spin room
In an apparent jab at Sanders, Klobuchar said her plan for education "doesn't fit on a bumper sticker" but "it will work for our economy."
"We are not going to have a shortage of sports marketing degrees. We are going to have a shortage of plumbers," Klobuchar said, before adding that her plan would invest in free one and two year colleges. "I don't think we should be sending hard earned taxpayer money to send wealthy kids to college which is exactly what their plans do."
11:26 p.m. Biden calls himself the underdog
ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asks Biden about the moment at the top of the debate when Biden admitted he didn't do well in Iowa and said he didn't expect to do well in New Hampshire either.
"I've been the front runner all along here. I've had that target on my back from the beginning. The fact is, in New Hampshire I'm an underdog because of the fact that Bernie won this place by 20 points last time. The neighboring senators have have gigantic influence," Biden said. "But it doesn't matter. I've lost a lot of things before in the past, but I'll be damned if I'm going to lose to this guy Trump to lose the country to."
When asked about his back-and-forth with Buttigieg on "politics of the past," Biden questions Buttigieg's perception of history.
"Pete keeps talking about everything was bad before, 'all the past was bad.' Since when did the Democrats think Barack Obama didn't do a good job?" Biden said . "All these bad things? I don't know where [Buttigieg] was living."
Karl then asks Biden if Buttigieg could be another Obama.
"Being a mayor of a town smaller than Manchester is not quite being United States Senator from the state of Illinois even though it was only for a short amount of time," Biden argued.
11:15 p.m. Warren on a path forward
Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas asks Warren why she thinks she finished third in Iowa.
"We made it the top three and I'm glad of that... Now I'm ready to focus on new Hampshire," she said, before taking another jab at Buttigieg's fundraising and taking money from Super PACs. "One of the consequences by deciding not to fundraise by spending 70% of my time with rich people and corporate lobbyists is that I had a lot of time to go all around the country."
When asked if there is a path forward if there are no victories in the first four races -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina -- Warren doesn't reveal a sign that she's stopping anytime soon, despite her quieter appearance on the debate stage.
"I have built an organization from the ground up, a grassroots movement. We are now in 30 states. We have staff on the ground, we have volunteers coming in, because I believe in this fight. This is the fight that I've been fighting all my life, for America's middle class. And now we're close."
11:05 p.m. Buttigieg stopped by the spin room
Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas sits down with Buttigieg post-debate and asks him to address South Bend residents who asked the then-mayor before primary voting began if he cared about back people.
"We had a really tough situation when we had a police shooting in our city," Buttigieg said, referring to last year's fatal shooting of a black citizen by a white police officer.
"I don't get the luxury of just calling for good things to happen or taking votes on them. When you're a mayor on the ground, you have to deal with these things," Buttigieg said, also pitching his experience as a Washington outsider.
"Of course we did not fix systemic racism in eight years in South Bend, but they're only telling part of the story if somebody is pointing to the challenges we face."
When Llamas asks him if he has what it takes to take on Trump, Buttigieg said, "I've taken worse incoming than a tweet full of typos."
10:42 p.m. Christie says Buttigieg lied about his South Bend record, looked like "a deer in headlights"
ABC News Contributor Chris Christie says candidates missed an opportunity to challenge Buttigieg on his controversial record as mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
"I think a moment that could be foreshadowing for the future is when Mayor Pete was up there outright lying about his record on African-American arrests and marijuana, and Linsey Davis of ABC challenged him more than any candidate challenged him tonight. You saw the look on his face. He looked like a deer in the headlights," Christie says.
"If he ever gets on the stage with Donald Trump it's going to be a whole different story who will call him on those things. I think the other candidates better get serious about calling Mayor Pete on the record in South Bend. It was a missed opportunity for other candidates."
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