UPDATE, 6:31 PM PT: The detente of the first half of Thursday’s Democratic Debate gave way to a bitter exchange between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg over the issue of high-dollar fundraising.
Warren pointed out that Buttigieg “recently held a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave filled with crystals.” She was referring to reports that Buttigieg attended a tony, closed-door fundraising dinner in a Napa Valley “wine cave” earlier this week, a contrast to how she has raised money for her presidential race.
“People who can put down $5,000 to have a picture taken don’t have the same priorities as those struggling to pay student loan debt,” she said.
Buttigieg hit back, noting that he is the only one on the stage “who is not a millionaire or a billionaire.”
“Senator, your net worth is 100 times mine,” he said.
He also suggested that Democrats can’t forgo such fundraising because they have to be able to compete.
“These purity tests shrink the stakes of the most important election of our lifetimes,” he said.
UPDATE, 6:07 PM PT: The big irony of this Democratic debate is that in a cycle with the most diverse field of candidates for president, Andrew Yang was the only person of color on the stage.
Previous participants Cory Booker, Julian Castro and Tulsi Gabbard did not qualify, and Kamala Harris dropped out of the race earlier this month.
“It is both an honor and a disappointment to be the lone candidate on the stage tonight,” Yang said, when asked about the nearly all-white field of contenders in the debate. “I miss Kamala. I miss Cory. But I think Cory will be back.”
He then tied the issue to one of his signature campaign proposals — a universal basic income.
“You know what you need to donate to political campaigns? Disposable income,” he said. The Democratic National Committee qualifications include a donor threshold in order to make it to the stage.
PREVIOUSLY, 5:29 PM PT: As seven Democratic candidates took the stage for the Democratic debate in Los Angeles, the first question was hardly a surprise: It had to do with President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Moderator Judy Woodruff asked them why more Americans aren’t in favor of removing Trump from office, as polls show a near equal split on the question.
As other candidates offered variations on the need for Congress to hold Trump’s conduct in check, along with mixing in a few of their campaign talking points, Andrew Yang gave a different take.
He talked of the problem being with trust in the media, but he also said that Americans were confused with a kind of obsession about all things Trump.
“If you turn on cable news today, you would think he’s president because of some combination of Russia, racism, Facebook, Hillary Clinton and emails all mixed together. But Americans around the country know different.”
The question is especially relevant for Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They each would have to act as jurors in a Senate impeachment trial, a prospect that would keep them off the campaign trail for some period of time. And Tom Steyer was quick to point out that he started the group Need to Impeach two years ago.
Yang, however, warned that Democrats have to stop acting as if Trump is the source of all the problems.
“What we have to be is stopped being obsessed with impeachment, and instead digging in and solving the problem that got him there in the first place,” he said.
Yang’s answer may have been a way for him to stand out in the field, perhaps a bit like Tulsi Gabbard did in previous debates. But she did not qualify this time. On Wednesday, she voted “present” on impeachment.