Tomorrow night is Night One of the Democratic presidential debates. From 9-11pm (Eastern), NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo will be in Miami, with “Today” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd, “The Rachel Maddow Show” host Rachel Maddow, and “Noticias Telemundo” anchor José Diaz-Balart serving as the moderators. Although NBC has been soliciting questions from its viewers, NBC will be determining which questions to ask. What follows are thumbnails of the Night One candidates to help you prepare for debate-watching.
Campaign slogan/theme: “Where there is unity, there is strength.” Expect Sen. Booker to position himself as the love-and-kindness candidate, touting the view that we, as Americans, have more uniting us than dividing us.
Plan to brag about: American Opportunity Accounts Act, his “baby bond” proposal, which “would virtually close the racial wealth gap by funding a federally-backed savings account for every child born in America that grows with them as they grow up, ensuring that all children born in this country are afforded the opportunity for upward mobility.” (Cory2020)
If moderators are seeking to gin up controversy and make headlines, they will ask Booker about: Booker’s recent rebuke of Vice President Biden’s comments about working with segregationists. Sen. Booker characterized Biden’s comments as insensitive or lacking in understanding, as well as hurtful.
Campaign slogan/theme: His website URL is julianforthefuture.com, while the plans and proposals he has made available on the website are all entitled, “People First…” Expect Sec. Castro to tie together his executive experience leading HUD with his commitment to helping people…first.
Plan to brag about: Although his People First Housing plans are right in his executive wheelhouse, it’s his People First Policing plan which is worthy of notice. It’s an uncompromising rebuke of overly-aggressive policing, with specific policies to correct the abuses.
We have on our hands a national crisis in public safety. If elected president, Julián Castro would treat this as the crisis it is, demanding of a federal response. This is Julián’s plan to fix this broken system:
1. End over-aggressive policing and combat racially discriminatory policing.
2. Hold police accountable.
3. Start the healing process between communities and law enforcement. (Julián for the Future)
If moderators are seeking to gin up controversy and make headlines, they will ask Castro about: his “profane” comments on the Bill Maher show in April about Vice President Biden’s touching tendencies. While Maher was arguing that Biden was an equal opportunity toucher (i.e. not just women), Castro argued that it’s about how one is making someone feel, rather than one’s intentions. He went on to say, “I think it’s bullshit to say people can get away with laughing it off,” Castro challenged Maher. “I think that’s completely the wrong way to look at it.” (Bill Maher Insists Biden Controversy “Not That Fcking Serious”; Julian Castro Calls “Bullsht”)
Bill de Blasio
Campaign slogan/theme: Unclear at this point, since de Blasio’s website is fairly bare-boned right now. His announcement video proclaims his economic populism and putting working people first: “As president, I will take on the wealthy. I will take on the big corporations. I will not rest until this government serves working people…” (Announcement video: Working People First)
Plan to brag about: His May 16 entry into the presidential primary field has resulted in a sparse website, but based on his announcement video, it seems fair to assume that he will push for a Federal version of one of his NYC achievements: free, universal pre-K for four-year olds. Another area of focus may be universal healthcare coverage for mental health, a signature issue of his wife, Chirlane McCray.
If moderators are seeking to gin up controversy and make headlines, they will ask de Blasio about: NYCs recent real estate deal with two notorious slumlords. de Blasio has defended the deal as part of an ongoing process to buy buildings from “bad” landlords and converting them to permanent affordable housing. In this particular case, the city may have bought the buildings for almost $30 million above market value, which de Blasio defended as necessary to avoid the time (and expense) that going to court in an eminent domain case would have entailed. (De Blasio defends controversial $173M real estate deal with slumlords )
Campaign slogan/theme: Focus on the Future; after the South Carolina Democratic convention, he followed this up with the statement, So, I’m running on real solutions, not impossible promises,” said John Delaney. “I think, respectfully, some of the people I’m running against are running on some impossible promises, and I think that at the end of the day, if we go to the general election running on some of these things, we’re not going to win.” Real Solutions, Not Impossible Promises)
Plan to brag about: Delaney has a detailed, $2 trillion infrastructure plan, including the creation of an infrastructure bank, increased direct investment in the Highway Trust Fund, and a new Climate Infrastructure fund. Delaney also proposes creating five funds that match state and local investments 4:1 in specific categories: water infrastructure, school infrastructure, deferred maintenance, areas left behind, and rural broadband.
Delaney will pay for his plan by raising the corporate tax rate to 27% and increasing the federal gas tax to account for inflation since the last increase and indexing it for inflation going forward. Projects supported through Delaney’s infrastructure plan will be governed by federal labor protections including paying workers prevailing wages. $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan )
If moderators are seeking to gin up controversy and make headlines, they will ask Delaney about: his contention, made at the California Democratic convention that Medicare for All “may sound good but it’s actually not good policy nor is it good politics.” This statement earned him boos and a recommendation from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that he “sashay away” from the presidential race. For his part, Delaney supports the goal of universal healthcare; his plan, BetterCare, is a replacement for the ACA but does not eliminate private insurance.
Campaign slogan/theme: Lead with Love; in addition, one of the taglines at her campaign website (Tulsi2020) is “We deserve a government that serves the American people.” Part of her welcome page greeting says this:
When we listen to each other with a clear mind and an open heart, we will heal the divide and build a majority coalition around our common values of service above self, freedom, justice, love for country, prosperity and peace. When we act out of compassion for each other and love for our country and the earth, we will rediscover the joy of serving a higher purpose, together.
Plan to brag about: Despite a January launch, Rep. Gabbard’s website does not yet have an issues page. However, scrolling through her twitter feed provides some insight. She has long been known as a supporter of Medicare for All and protecting the environment, but her campaign focus seems to be on having “a soldier’s heart” with the desire to end spending on regime change wars, a new cold war, or nuclear war. She is strongly anti-interventionist and believes in diplomacy even with the most unsavory of leaders.
If moderators are seeking to gin up controversy and make headlines, they will ask Gabbard about: her history of breaking with the Democratic party and adopting talking points or voting with Republicans. She joined Republicans in castigating President Obama for avoiding the use of the words, “Islamic terrorism,” and she voted with Republicans to make it difficult, if not impossible, for Syrian refugees to enter the U.S.
That’s all for this post; I will be posting a Wednesday special with part two, the remaining five presidential candidates.
Thanks for the rundown – of course I know a bit about Booker and Castro as they’re on my “would consider” list but I didn’t know much about the rest.