Fight for 2020 Democratic nomination moves to prime time

Amy Klobuchar - AP image

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, refused to embrace "Medicare for All" and free college in sharp contrast with many of her competitors.

Posted: Apr 22, 2019 7:46 PM
Updated: Apr 23, 2019 7:02 AM

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — California Sen. Kamala Harris joined the call for President Donald Trump's impeachment as five leading Democratic presidential contenders clashed in a series of prime-time town hall meetings that exposed deep divisions in a party desperate to end the Trump presidency.

Harris' unexpected support for impeachment follows Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's push for Congress to begin the process to remove the Republican president following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report — a plan all but certain to fail without significant Republican support.

"There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution," Warren said. "If any other human being in this country had done what's documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail."

The impeachment debate, which is raging among Democrats nationwide, played out on national television Monday as five 2020 hopefuls representing different wings of the party addressed young voters in first-in-the-nation primary state New Hampshire. While they took turns on stage, the forum, hosted by CNN, marked the first time this young presidential primary season in which multiple candidates appeared on national television for the same event.

The five-hour marathon marked a preview of sorts for the party's first formal presidential debate , set for late June. On Monday, they clashed from afar while taking questions from college students about free college, free health care, gun control and impeachment.

A central question faced candidates throughout the night: Who is best positioned to deny Trump a second term?

Bernie Sanders, a front-runner in the crowded Democratic field who has pushed much of his party to the left in recent years, was asked to defend his decision to embrace democratic socialism.

"It's a radical idea. Maybe not everyone agrees. But I happen to believe we ought to have a government that represents working families and not just the 1 percent," he said.

Republicans, led by Trump, have spent much of the last year warning voters that Democrats would take the country toward socialism should they win in 2020.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has cast herself as a Midwestern pragmatist well positioned to appeal to the middle of the country, refused to embrace "Medicare for All," free college or Trump's impeachment.

"I wish I could staple a free college diploma to every one of your chairs," Klobuchar told the audience of college students. "I have to be straight with you and tell you the truth."

Warren, a champion for her party's more liberal wing, called for an "ultra-millionaires' tax" on income over $50 million to help pay for free college, free child care for all children 5 and younger, free universal prekindergarten and student-debt forgiveness.

"We say good for you that you have now gotten this great fortune," she said of the nation's wealthiest taxpayers. "But you gotta pay something back so everybody else gets a chance."

The Republicans tasked with helping Trump win re-election paid close attention to the Democrats' answers, seeking political ammunition to tear them down.

GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel pounced on Sanders' call to restore the voting rights of felons, including people like the Boston Marathon bomber, who killed three people and injured hundreds in 2013 with a pair of pressure-cooker bombers and was sentenced to death.

"I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy," Sanders said. "Yes, even for terrible people."

McDaniel responded on social media: "If you had any doubt about how radical the Democrat Party has become, their 2020 frontrunner wants to let terrorists convicted of murdering American citizens vote from prison. It's beyond extreme."

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has generated tremendous buzz recently in the Democratic field, also opposed Sanders' position. The 37-year-old openly gay former military officer said felons should have their voting rights restored only after they leave prison, not before.

There was very little discussion of immigration, an issue that has largely defined Trump's presidency. Most of the Democrats seeking the presidency support a pathway to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally, particularly those brought to the country as children.

Buttigieg noted that most Americans support such a plan, based on public polls. And he condemned Trump for inflaming immigration tensions for political gain.

"We've got a White House that's actually computed that it's better off politically if this problem goes unsolved," Buttigieg said. "It's been used to divide us."

Foreign policy was also an afterthought for most of the night, though Sanders drew cheers from the young crowd when he condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for treating Palestinians "unfairly."

The Vermont senator said he believes the United States should "deal with the Middle East on a level-playing-field basis." The goal, he continued, must be to try to bring people together and "not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing, dare I say, racist government."

Just five of the roughly 20 Democratic presidential candidates participated in Monday's forum. Former Vice President Joe Biden, expected to announce his candidacy later in the week, was among the missing.

CNN did not explain how it chose the participants. The cable network has held prime-time town halls for many of the candidates, including four of the five who appeared Monday.

On impeachment, an issue that has exposed deep divisions within the Democratic Party in recent days, both Harris and Warren broke from Sanders and Klobuchar by openly calling for elected officials to begin proceedings to remove the president from office. Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have urged a more cautious approach because impeachment would be nearly impossible politically without significant Republican support.

Harris said the special counsel's recently released report "tells us that this president and his administration engaged in obstruction of justice."

"I believe Congress should take the steps toward impeachment," she said.

Buttigieg said Trump has "made it pretty clear he deserves impeachment," but that he's focused on delivering the Republican president "an absolute thumping at the ballot box."

Klobuchar, like Sanders, sidestepped direct questions about impeachment. Sanders warned that pushing too hard to remove the president before the next election might distract from Democrats' priorities on health care and the economy.

"At the end of the day," he said, "what is most important to me is to see that Donald Trump is not re-elected."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 41571

Reported Deaths: 1537
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin13328790
Ramsey5169232
Dakota265596
Stearns249619
Anoka2393111
Nobles16846
Olmsted125920
Washington125541
Mower9822
Rice8798
Scott8584
Clay61238
Kandiyohi5901
Blue Earth5632
Wright5285
Carver4691
Todd4022
Sherburne3625
Lyon3332
Freeborn3120
Watonwan2670
Steele2451
Benton2363
St. Louis22316
Nicollet20312
Martin1755
Cottonwood1420
Winona14115
Goodhue1408
Le Sueur1251
Crow Wing11312
Pine1120
Otter Tail1111
Chisago1071
McLeod1000
Dodge960
Carlton900
Polk883
Unassigned8838
Isanti810
Chippewa801
Waseca770
Murray730
Itasca7112
Douglas700
Pipestone694
Morrison641
Becker620
Meeker621
Faribault610
Sibley582
Jackson570
Pennington530
Beltrami470
Brown442
Mille Lacs392
Wabasha380
Renville372
Fillmore350
Rock340
Swift331
Houston320
Yellow Medicine310
Grant250
Roseau250
Redwood230
Wilkin223
Koochiching211
Norman210
Cass192
Big Stone170
Kanabec171
Lincoln170
Wadena170
Aitkin150
Marshall130
Pope130
Clearwater120
Stevens110
Hubbard100
Mahnomen101
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle50
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34564

Reported Deaths: 747
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk7332184
Woodbury332944
Black Hawk249259
Buena Vista173711
Johnson14268
Dallas138531
Linn138183
Marshall109219
Scott103110
Dubuque94023
Story8575
Pottawattamie82112
Wapello71431
Muscatine68745
Crawford6803
Sioux5010
Tama48329
Wright3971
Louisa36513
Webster3655
Plymouth3465
Jasper34417
Warren3191
Dickinson2993
Cerro Gordo2841
Washington2519
Hamilton2011
Boone1681
Clay1491
Clarke1433
Allamakee1384
Clinton1321
Shelby1200
Mahaska11917
Carroll1131
Poweshiek1128
Bremer1107
Pocahontas1071
Franklin1040
Des Moines1002
Cedar951
Emmet950
Henry933
Hardin900
Cherokee831
Floyd812
Taylor810
Marion800
Monona780
Benton751
Guthrie754
Jones710
Butler682
Osceola680
Sac680
Buchanan631
Calhoun632
Iowa631
Jefferson620
Hancock601
Harrison600
Humboldt601
Fayette570
Jackson570
Lyon570
Delaware561
Madison552
Lee542
Monroe527
Palo Alto510
Clayton503
Grundy470
Mills470
Winneshiek460
Mitchell440
Davis421
Kossuth410
Union380
Howard370
Lucas354
Unassigned350
Winnebago340
Greene300
Chickasaw290
Cass280
Ida230
Keokuk231
Worth220
Appanoose213
Page210
Van Buren210
Audubon181
Adair170
Ringgold161
Decatur130
Montgomery122
Wayne110
Fremont100
Adams80
Rochester
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