Wednesday night in Atlanta, Pete Buttigieg – who emerged atop a recent Iowa poll – deflected attacks from leading far-left rivals at his party's fifth presidential primary debate, while former Vice President Joe Biden continued slurring his speech and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) successfully returned barbs against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
Healthcare turned out being the hot issue of the night, as frontrunning Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tag-teamed against the supposedly more moderate Buttigieg for not supporting their socialized universal health care plan.
"Pete Buttigieg – whose popularity has surged in recent days – found himself the sudden target of attacks at Wednesday night's fifth Democratic primary debate, but sought to stay on the offensive and make an appeal to the country's political middle with a blunt rebuke of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders' 'Medicare-for-all' plan," Fox News reported.
"He was joined by several other candidates on stage in going after the health care overhaul, putting the party's far-left candidates on their heels over what Buttigieg called their 'divisive' and unrealistic approach."
Four vs. two
Warren and Sanders, the two left-leaning senators from New England, did their best to fend off attacks from their more moderate rivals, who thought it a bad idea for the government to fully run health care.
"The debate was the candidates' first meeting since Warren said she would gradually guide the nation toward Medicare-for-all – supposedly paid for with a host of tax hikes on the rich and other measures," Fox News' Gregg Re pointed out. "One by one, several of the candidates – including Biden, Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Amy Klobuchar – raised objections to that plan."
The Minnesota senator made it known that Warren's and Sanders' plan are impractical, misleading and unworkable. "I'm not going to go for things just because they sound good on a bumper sticker and then throw in a free car," Klobuchar insisted, according to Fox.
Buttigieg, the first openly homosexual presidential candidate, argued against the government forcing Americans to accept its exorbitant taxpayer-funded medical plan.
"[I support health care reform] without the divisive step of ordering people onto it, [and] commanding people to accept that option [is the wrong approach]," Buttigieg argued. "We have a majority to do the right thing if we can galvanize – not polarize – that majority."
Booker jumped into the fray as emotions flared.
"New Jersey Sen. Booker directly took on Warren's proposed wealth tax, saying it would be ineffective as a means of funding her Medicare-for-all plan, along with her proposals to provide free college tuition and erasing student loan debt," Re noted.
"Democrats need to be focused on growing wealth, Booker said, not simply taxing it. Republicans have asserted that, even if all billionaires were somehow taxed out of existence without causing any capital markets distortion, the resulting revenues in the best-case scenario would barely pay for three years of Medicare-for-all. (The world's 2,150 billionaires have an approximate combined net worth of $8.7 trillion, and the progressive Urban Institute has said that Medicare-for-all would cost on average $10.2 trillion for three years.)"
But Sanders stood by his controversial big government takeover of medicine, fighting for it tooth and nail.
"Sanders – who is arguing for a more immediate shift to a single-payer system – separately sparred with Biden on the issue," Re added. "Biden argued that Medicare-for-all could not pass Congress – in part because it would force people to lose their private insurance."
He insisted he was fighting for Americans to have a say in the matter as he pushed for health care reform modifications from the Obama years.
"I trust the American people to make a judgment about what is in their interest, and not demand of them what the insurance companies want," Biden contended.
Sanders also defended socialism and the radical ultra-environmentalist Green New Deal, which would ultimately cost taxpayers tens of trillions of dollars.
"In another notable one-on-one moment, Sanders, touting the benefits of socialism in a discussion with billionaire Tom Steyer, argued that America only has 'eight or nine years' left to reverse catastrophic effects of climate change, including cities going 'underwater,'" Re relayed from the debate. "United Nations experts made similar claims all the way back in 1989."
Gaffe machine up and running again?
Biden continued his stammering ways again Wednesday night when he and other candidates addressed the Democrats' impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
"Unlike the other Democrats, Biden's response was disjointed and punctuated by a stutter at certain points," Breitbart News reported. "The stutter – which Biden has previously discussed overcoming as a child – caught the notice of many on social media."
He also ran into some trouble when bringing up domestic violence.
"Later – in a somewhat awkward moment – Biden prompted some laughter in the audience when he declared that 'we gotta keep punching at' the problem of domestic violence, and that it is only acceptable to hit a woman in 'self-defense,' which he said would 'rarely' occur," Re noted.
Biden slipped again when attempting to rally support from the black community.
"[I have the support of] the only African-American woman who's ever been elected to the United States Senate," Biden asserted.
But Booker and Harris firmly challenged the former VP on his claim, saying in unison, "That's not true," with Harris adding, "The other one is here."
Nervously backpedaling, Biden attempted to rephrase his assertion.
"Biden later corrected himself to say he had the support of the first African-American woman elected to the Senate – referring to former Illinois Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun," Re recounted.
Weeks after Hillary Clinton accused her being a "Russian asset," Gabbard also fell under attack for calling out other candidates for perpetuating the Democratic Party's establishment – witnessed during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
"Our Democratic Party, unfortunately, is not the party that is of, by and for the people," Gabbard contended, according to Fox. "[Hillary Clinton represents the] personification of the rot in the Democratic Party, [which is influenced by a] foreign policy establishment [that supports regime-change wars perpetuated by the] Bush, Clinton, and Trump foreign policy doctrine."
This was followed by Harris condemning Gabbard over her Fox News appearances.
"I think that it's unfortunate that we have someone on this stage that is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States – who during the Obama administration spent four years full time on Fox News criticizing President Obama," Harris said, as reported by Townhall.
"Who has been full time criticizing people on this stage as affiliated with the Democratic Party. When Donald Trump was elected, not even sworn in, buddied up to Steve Bannon to get a meeting with Donald Trump in the Trump Tower. [Gabbard] fails to call a war criminal by what he is as a war criminal, and then spends full time during the course of this campaign, again, criticizing the Democratic Party."
But Gabbard had the last word.
"What Senator Harris is doing is, unfortunately, continuing to traffic in lies and smears and innuendos because she cannot challenge the substance of the argument that I'm making – the leadership and the change that I'm seeking to bring in our foreign policy – which only makes me guess that she will, as president, continue the status quo, continue the Bush-Clinton-Trump foreign policy of regime change wars, which is deeply destructive," Gabbard shot back.