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PBS NewsHour and Politico host final Democratic debate of 2019
By Faith Petrie, Contributing Writer
Published December 26, 2019

The field of seven Democratic presidential candidates. PHOTO BY ROBERT TORRENCE

The seven candidates of the final democratic debate of the year stood at their respective podiums taking quiet notes minutes before the discussion was set to begin.

Loyola Marymount University transformed into the venue of the sixth and final democratic debate of 2019 Thursday evening. The debate featured the smallest lineup of candidates thus far featuring businessman Andrew Yang, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Tom Steyer.

The PBS NewsHour and Politico hosted debate determined the group through national and early state polls as well as unique donors. Professor of Law and James P. Bradley Chair in Constitutional Law at LMU Loyola Law School, Kimberly West-Faulcon said that the smaller pool of candidates will allow for “longer and more substantive answers.”

“I would agree with that concern that we need to hear not just one sentence answers but paragraph long answers and to get a sense of really concrete positions,” West-Faulcon said. “So in that sense, I hope that it is not a debate that is all about impeachment and not a debate that’s all about President Trump, I do hope it’s a debate that focuses on [why] person is going to be the best president for the country.”

One day before the debate, President Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. In response to the opening question posed by moderator Judy Woodruff regarding impeachment, Yang responded with “What we have to do is we have to stop being obsessed over impeachment… and start actually digging in and solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place.”

Yang was the sole person of color on the debate stage, candidates Cory Booker, Julian Castro and Tulsi Gabbard failing to meet the qualifications to participate.

After the debate, the Los Angeles Sentinel asked Steyer how he would improve racial inequality in regards to the Black community in America.

“Let me address that by talking about the question that no one answered on the stage that was actually asked and I had my hand up to answer it but no one actually gave me a chance which was reparations,” Steyer said. “I’m for reparations. My plan as president is to have a formal commission on race started on the first day where we retell the story of the last 400 years because I believe policy comes out of narrative.”

In addition to race, the economy, immigration, climate change and surprisingly, wine caves were topics of discussion throughout the night.

Buttigieg and Warren clashed over a lavish wine cave fundraiser that the mayor hosted in Napa Valley stating, “Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.”

Loyola Marymount senior, Austin Raymundo, filled in as Buttigieg’s stand-in during the technical rehearsals and said that the debate offered a wider variety of discourse and conversation.

“I was very happy that unlike other debates they focused more on specific public policy as opposed to more broad and general issues,” Raymundo said.

In a lighthearted conclusion to the debate, moderator Woodruff posed the choice to give forgiveness or to give a gift to any candidate on stage. Warren and Klobuchar were the sole members on stage to offer forgiveness, the men opting to give gifts.

“I know that sometimes I get really worked up. And sometimes I get a little hot. I don’t really mean to,” Warren said.

Similarly, Klobuchar reflected on her past behavior and offered apologies to the other candidates.

“Well, I’d ask for forgiveness, any time any of you get mad at me. I can be blunt, but I am doing this because I think it is so important to pick the right candidates here,” Klobuchar said.

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