WASHINGTON —The second round of Democratic presidential debates, which took place Tuesday night in Detroit, was dominated by progressives and moderates duking it out over the feasibility off programs such as “Medicare for All” and free college tuition.
But the jousting was tempered by New Age author Marianne Williamson’s pleas for harmony and love — and reparations — to heal a divided nation.
The forum was moderated by CNN — anchors Don Lemon and Jake Tapper and reporter Dana Bash — and included 10 candidates. It lasted for two-and-a-half hours.
The focal point of the evening featured Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) standing their ground on the progressive policies in the face of attacks from more moderate candidates.
Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) drew the ire of Sanders by saying the senator could not be sure that his Medicare for All health care plan would include comparable benefits to that of plans currently held by Michigan union members. Ryan said Sanders’ plan would strip union members of their private health insurance.
Sanders proceeded to try and refute Ryan.
“Medicare for All is comprehensive and covers all health-care needs for senior citizens. It will finally include dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses.”
Ryan did not relent.
“You don’t know that, Bernie.”
Sanders immediately fired back.
“I do know it. I wrote the damn bill.”
Warren came under fire by former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland.
Delaney, an investment banker with an estimated net worth of about $90 million, said Warren’s proposal for a “wealth tax” likely would be ruled unconstitutional and would be impractical. Delaney accused both Warren and Sanders of promoting fiscally irresponsible polices.
“It’s not just Elizabeth Warren, it’s Bernie Sanders. If you take what they’re saying to an extreme, what’s next? Free vacations, free housing, free everything. I mean, at some point we do have to pay for these things.”
Warren harshly rebuked Delaney.
“I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for. I don’t get it.”
Many pundits said that Warren won the debate and that Delaney improved his standing.
Polls show Warren and Sanders nearly tied for second place. Polls show Delaney polling at about 1 percent.
But some pundits consider spiritual guru Williamson the breakout star of the debate. The motivational speaker, who warned that President Donald Trump is stirring up a “dark psychic force” of hatred in the U.S. that President Donald Trump, threatening America, greatly boosted her profile.
“We need to recognize, when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with. That great injustice has had to do with the fact that there was 250 years of slavery followed by another hundred years of domestic terrorism,” she said.
Williamson forcefully defended giving reparations to black Americans, arguing that “anything less than $100 billion is an insult, and $200 to $500 billion is politically feasible today because so many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface, an emotional turbulence that only reparations will heal.”
Several of Williamson’s remarks received enthusiastic applause and cheers from the debate audience at Detroit’s historic Fox Theatre.
The second debate will take place tonight. Like the first debate, it will air at 8 p.m. EDT on CNN and will include 10 candidates. They include the frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who butted heads in the first debate after she challenged the former Delaware senator’s record on civil rights.
The other candidates participating are: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.