Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders faced off in the first one-on-one debate of the 2020 presidential primary. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the debate had no audience, and in accordance with CDC guidelines, their podiums were 6 feet apart.
The start of the night was dominated by the novel coronavirus and the candidates weighed in on how they would deal with the pandemic. Sanders called for the federal government to provide safeguards for Americans who get sick or lose their jobs while Biden warned that the present US health care system won’t be able to handle the amount of cases if we don’t act.
The debate continued with a discussion on how to help Americans recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Sanders attacked Biden’s support of the government bailout of the banks during the 2008 financial crisis. Biden defended his position saying if the banks had gone under, all Americans – no matter their economic status – would have suffered. Later, the candidates talked about the precautions they are taking personally to protect themselves from coronavirus.
The debate heats up as the former vice president and the Vermont senator clashed over the specifics of their respective platforms. Biden maintained that the voters want a government that gets results while Sanders said America needs a change to its power structure in order for everyone to get the help they need. They also took on social security, free public college tuition and how they will appeal to the other candidate’s supporters if they win the nomination.
Biden and Sanders are asked if they will ask a woman to be their vice presidential running mate and discussed immigration policy. Biden defended the Obama administration’s record on immigration while Sanders fired back at critics who say Democrats are for open borders.
The candidates clashed over the best way to fight the climate crisis while Sanders put Biden on the defense over the former vice president’s vote for the Iraq war war in 2002. Both Biden and Sanders say that fixing the climate crisis should be a priority, but the two candidates had some disagreements on the best way to do so. Biden talked about investing in transportation and rejoining the Paris climate accord, and Sanders vowed he would ban fracking and hold the fossil fuel industry accountable.
Biden and Sanders wrapped up the debate in Washington by making a pitch to voters on why they are the most electable. Biden says his support is the base of the Democratic party and pointed to winning the most primaries and leading the delegate count. Sanders says he is winning “the ideological struggle” and is turning out the youth voters that are needed in the general election.