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LIVE UPDATES: Democrats start second round of 2020 debates

Published: Tuesday, July 30, 2019 @ 7:12 PM

Amid growing calls in Congress by Democratic lawmakers to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, and in the wake of verbal broadsides against minority Democrats which have drawn cries of racism, Democratic hopefuls for their party's 2020 Presidential nomination gathered in the Motor City for their second round of debates, with the goal of taking back the White House next year.

Ten Democrats will be on the debate stage tonight - ironically at the historic Fox Theater in downtown Detroit - with ten other Democrats debating on Wednesday night, with a number of candidates probably facing their last best chance to shake up this race.

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Here's what happened in this first round in Detroit:

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10:43 pm - The first debate of this second round for Democrats is over. 

10:41 pm - Bernie Sanders wraps up the debate by calling President Trump a racist, sexist, 'and a homophobe.'

10:32 pm - Closing statements are now underway as each candidate gets one minute - but some run over that limit right away.

10:25 - There was a question about the age of a candidate - but Biden's name did not come up.

10:18 pm - The Democratic front runner, Joe Biden, has completely flown under the radar in this first debate.  Has his name been mentioned? I don't remember it. 

10:10 pm - The more progressive wing of the party has been urging some of the candidates running for President to give up their quest, and use their ideas to press for other offices.  This is from Brian Fallon, a former top aide for Hillary Clinton, who has been pushing the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren.

10:05 pm - Moving towards the end of this debate, Warren defends her idea of a wealth tax, arguing it's a solid way to close the 'wealth gap' in America, and a way to fund needed programs.

9:55 pm - For the first time tonight, the debate moves into trade, as Democrats say the President's trade actions have not helped, though they do say it's time to be tough with China.   Tim Ryan says President Trump 'bungled' the whole effort to fight Beijing.  “Trade wars are for losers,” said John Hickenlooper.

9:49 pm - The candidates get to take a swing at supporting the idea of reparations for descendants of slaves.  After Sanders endorses a bill in Congress, and O'Rourke says he would back a different one, CNN takes a second break.  Not much time left in this debate, along with closing statements.

9:38 pm - Marianne Williamson goes 48230 with her response to one question on Michigan: “What happened in Flint would not have happened in Grosse Pointe.”

9:35 pm - Elizabeth Warren has the same type of reaction as Sanders, pushing back against the more moderate side of the party:

9:29 pm - We continue on the same refrain tonight, now with climate change.  Sanders says he's tired of listening to Democrats who are 'afraid of big ideas.'

9:27 pm - I'm not in the big press filing tent, but rather back in the Hockeytown Cafe bar.  Here's my view, along with a small group of other reporters.

9:18 pm - Delaney jumps on the bandwagon, saying Democrats can't run on 'fairy tale economics,' aiming right at Warren and Sanders again. Warren zings Delaney by saying she doesn't understand why someone runs for President if they aren't willing to dream big.

9:15 pm - Tim Ryan echoes the Hickenlooper jab at Sanders, rattling off issues like taking private insurance away from union members, decriminalizing illegal border crossings, and giving free health care to illegal immigrants - saying that is not a winning formula for Democrats.

9:12 pm - The next segment starts on a familiar theme for tonight, with Hickenlooper questioning the expansive plans from Sanders. Hickenlooper says if Democrats promise tons of free stuff, then Trump will win easily.

9:06 pm - After 53 minutes, CNN finally takes the first break of this debate.  There were some interesting moments, especially on health care.

8:58 pm - The candidates move into a third segment on gun violence.  It basically turns into multiple candidates slamming the National Rifle Association, and vowing to step up background checks, ban assault weapons, and limit the size of magazines.

8:55 pm - This segment on immigration is like the earlier question on health care, showing that there are differences among the Democrats, over the issue of whether to decriminalize the act of entering the United States illegally.

8:45 pm - The health care debate wraps up after showing some big differences on the subject.  A very interesting first 30 minutes. Next up is immigration.

8:43 pm - Sanders snaps at Tim Ryan over the details of how the unions would be hurt by a Medicare For All plan.  “I do know, I wrote the damn bill,” Sanders says. Ryan says the Medicare For All plan would be bad politics for Democrats in 2020.

8:40 pm - This health insurance argument continues, and shows an interesting divide among these candidates.  Buttigieg says there's no need to pull back on the ideas for a big Medicare for All plan.  Buttigieg says no matter what Democrats support, Republicans will call them a 'bunch of crazy socialists'

8:36 pm - An interesting dynamic tonight as Sanders and Warren face critiques over their big Medicare For All plans - Sanders calls Tapper's questions, a Republican talking point.

8:34 pm - Tapper being insistent as he presses the various candidates: “Who is offering a false choice here?”  Bullock is getting a lot of early play tonight.

8:30 pm - Jake Tapper is calmly trying to zero in on both Warren and Sanders about the cost of their Medicare for All plans.

8:26 pm - The Q&A gets underway with the first question going to Bernie Sanders on health care.  Jake Tapper talks about how Delaney and others say Sanders would spend too much money on his plan.  “You're wrong,” Sanders tells Delaney.

8:20 pm - Amy Klobuchar goes there first: “"I have had it with the racist attacks" of President Trump.

8:18 pm - The early statements from Bullock, John Delaney, Tim Ryan, and John Hickenlooper are a reminder that there is still a big chunk of more moderate Democrats who don't live on the East and West Coast.  We'll see if they really challenge Warren and Sanders tonight.

8:14 pm - Opening statements get underway.  Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana - who is in his first debate - goes first - and says President Trump will be hard to beat.

8:11 pm - Remember, most of the candidates will only speak between six and nine minutes tonight.  In the first round, Andrew Yang spoke the least of any candidate, at just under three minutes.

8:05 pm - The candidates are all on stage. 

7:55 pm - Down to the stage.

7:50 pm - Just a reminder of the 10 Democrats on stage:

Sanders

Warren

Buttigieg

O'Rourke

Klobuchar

Bullock

Ryan

Hickenlooper

Delaney

Williamson

7:45 pm - The head of the national Democratic Party is giving a giant stem winder of a speech from the debate stage.  CNN is showing the whole thing.  “Doesn't this seem really odd?” a younger reporter said to me with a quizzical look on his face.

7:40 pm - This just dropped into my inbox. It's a reminder that in the first pair of debates, what happened on the first night was almost totally overshadowed by the second debate.  I really those in the second debate have an advantage in terms of press.

7:35 pm - A lot is at stake tonight for the ten Democrats on stage, especially those who are not named Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg.  Maybe five of the ten candidates here for the debate won't be able to qualify for the next Democratic debate in September in Houston.

You can read more about what each candidate might face in my story from earlier today.

7:30 pm - Most reporters are not in the debate hall, but instead we are across the street at a sports bar - the Hockeytown Cafe - which is decked out with all sorts of Detroit sports paraphernalia.  I'm sitting about 25 feet from one of the bars, but they aren't selling any alcohol.  The 'Spin Room' is in a big tent attached to the back of the bar.

7:25 pm - You never know what issues will surface in a debate, and what issues might get left on the side.  Two hours might sound like a lot, but with ten candidates splitting the time, nothing is guaranteed.   Maybe one of the questions will be about the President's recent Twitter attacks on certain Democrats in Congress.

7:15 pm - Here is the roster for tonight's debate:

7:00 pm - The crowd is already seated inside the Fox Theater on historic Woodward Avenue in Detroit, just a long home run from where the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings play.  CNN is the host for tonight's debate (NBC had the first Democratic debate in Miami in late June.)

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