After the first debate on Tuesday, CNN took some heat for including no questions about the famous Mueller report. This time the CNN crew brought it up, but only near the end of the proceedings.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California cited “ten clear cases” of obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump. “No one is above the law,” she said, but the candidate failed to outline the ten clear cases. In his recent testimony, Mueller cited zero cases of obstruction.
Sen. Cory Booker said the president is “authoritarian,” so “start impeachment proceedings immediately.” Julian Castro told the crowd the Mueller reports indicates that Trump “deserves impeachment,” without any citation from that report or the recent Mueller testimony. The Texas Democrat also supports the “prosecution” of the president.
Likewise, New York mayor bill Di Blasio said the president “has committed crimes worthy of impeachment,” without naming any of the crimes. On the prospect of impeachment hindering the Democrats’ prospects to defeat Trump, several candidates, including Castro, said they had to “walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Former HUD boss Castro also delivered one of the bigger whoppers of the night when he acknowledged recent job growth and said it was all “due to Barack Obama.” As with the Mueller report, he didn’t explain how, or deliver any figures.
Castro did tout his “Marshall Plan” for Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which would sent more money to those countries. Castro would not deliver a clear answer whether crossing the border should continue to be illegal. The notion of “open borders,” he said, was a “right-wing talking point.”
Likewise, candidate Michael Bennet was silent on illegal border crossings, but did refer to “nativist hostility.” Kirsten Gillibrand, brilliantly clad in orange, wanted such illegal crossings to be a “civil violation.” The candidates opposed the separation of families and several targeted former vice president Joe Biden for the heavy deportation record of the Obama administration. In fact, anti-deportation chants broke out several times during the debate.
Biden pushed back at Castro and talked up his position on asylum, and how he had sent $750 million to Guatemala. Biden also asked the candidates “what do you say to all those who wait in line” and that the United States should be “able to send back” those who cross illegally.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbert of Hawaii, clad in white suit worthy of Elvis, referred to the undocumented as “second-class citizens.” She did not clarify that they are not citizens at all, and that states such as California have made illegals a privileged, protected class, even helping violent criminals to evade detection and deportation. Gabbert did say she would make it easier to gain asylum in the United States but did not support free college for illegals.
Candidate Jay Inslee, sporting a Clark Kent look, denounced the “white nationalist” in the White House and said “send us your Syrian Refugees.” Cory Booker, who like host Don Lemon often calls Trump a racist, warned about “playing into Republican hands.” Bill Di Blasio wondered if Biden used his power as vice president to stop deportations, and got no clear answer. For his part, Biden became something of a target in the opening exchange on health care.
Biden charged that the Medicare for all policies touted by leftist Democrats would raise taxes and cause people to lose their employer-based insurance. “You can’t beat Trump with double-talk,” said Biden, who wants to “build on Obamacare” and “take back all that Trump took away.”
That wasn’t enough for candidates such as Harris and Gillibrand, who blasted independent insurance companies with nearly the fury of Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday. The audience got no clear indication how it would all be funded. Several Democrat candidates supported health care as a “right” and Cory Booker said Donald Trump is “trying to take away health care.”
Joe Biden also took some heat from Harris for working “with segregationists to oppose busing,” without indicating that those segregationists were in fact Democrats such as Senators Herman Talmadge and James Eastland. Harris talked a good game on criminal justice but Gabbert took her to task for jailing people on marijuana charges as a DA in San Francisco, and keeping cash bail in place.
In the debate’s foreign policy section, candidate Gabbert lamented the nation’s endless wars and said “our president is supporting al Qaida.” She didn’t say how, exactly but that might have tied Julian Castro’s contention that Obama caused the nation’s current prosperity. The people in Detroit could be forgiven for thinking he didn’t, and that Democrats bear responsibility for many of their current woes.
As on Tuesday, the so-called moderates and progressives tangled but no clear winner emerged. On the other hand, Cory Booker may have provided a hint when he said, “Trump is enjoying this debate.”