Ten Democrats hoping to be their party’s candidate for US president have taken the stage in Detroit, Michigan, in the second round of televised debates organised by the Democratic National Committee.
Bernie Sanders, 77, a US senator from Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, 70, a senator from Massachusetts, were the candidates with the highest opinion poll ratings on Tuesday’s debate stage. Other candidates taking part included former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, 46, and 37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
A second debate, with another 10 candidates, including the frontrunner, former US vice-president Joe Biden, 76, will be held on Wednesday.
All 20 candidates qualified for this week’s debates by clearing polling and fundraising thresholds set out by the DNC. Steve Bullock, the 53-year-old governor of Montana, did not qualify for the first round of debates last month, but polled high enough to participate in Tuesday’s event.
News channel CNN, which is hosting this week’s debates, selected the line-up for each night in a televised random draw.
Ms Warren, a former law professor, dominated the debate stage last month, forcing many of her opponents to say whether they agreed with her policy proposals, including a tax on families with a net worth of more than $50m.
Political analysts were keen to see how she performed in Tuesday’s Democratic party debate, where she shared the stage with fellow progressive Mr Sanders, who has made “Medicare for all” and the abolition of private health insurance a pillar of his campaign. Ms Warren has risen steadily in the polls in recent weeks, while support for Mr Sanders has slipped. An average of national polls calculated by Real Clear Politics showed Mr Sanders at 16.2 per cent on Tuesday, compared to Ms Warren’s 14 per cent.
On Wednesday many will be interested in the dynamic between Mr Biden and Kamala Harris, the 54-year-old senator from California. At last month’s debates, Ms Harris attacked Mr Biden over his earlier opposition to the federally enforced busing of children into mixed-race schools.
Race is expected to be a topic of discussion at both debates this week, after Donald Trump said earlier this month that four leftwing Democratic congresswomen of colour should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.
More recently, the US president has attacked Elijah Cummings, the black Democratic congressman from Maryland, saying that “no human being would want to live” in his “disgusting, rat and rodent infested” district, which includes parts of the city of Baltimore.