CNN Democratic debate night 1

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner and Amanda Wills, CNN

Updated 9:42 p.m. ET, July 31, 2019
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8:34 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Moderates come out firing against Sanders and Warren

From CNN's Gregory Krieg


Before Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren said a word, they were under attack.

Moderates John Delaney and John Hickenlooper used their opening statements to warn against the progressive policies being pushed by the senators, saying they risk setting up Democrats to lose in 2020.

Delaney compared their candidacies to losing liberal campaigns from the past.

Hickenlooper pointed to the 2018 midterms, and the Democrats’ success in flipping dozens of House seats. But none of those new members, he said, “shared the policies” of Warren and Sanders.

It’s early, but it’s a good bet that we haven’t heard the last of this brand of attack.

Watch Bernie Sanders respond: 'You're wrong.'

8:28 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

What you need to know about 5 common health care plans

From CNN's Tami Luhby

Many Democratic candidates are expected to talk about their health care ideas tonight. Here's your guide to what five of the most talked-about plans and proposals mean:

Medicare for All

This proposal, spearheaded by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, would radically change the way Americans are covered, shifting control to the federal government and essentially eliminating the private insurance industry.
Under Sanders’ plan, Americans would be enrolled in a national health insurance program, also known as a “single-payer” system, which many other developed countries have. The federal government would run the program, and it – and taxpayers – would pay the bills.
Medically necessary services would be covered and there would be no premiums, deductibles or co-pays. It would expand the current Medicare benefit package to include vision, dental, hearing and long-term care at home or in the community. Nursing home and other institutional services would be covered under Medicaid.
Private insurers aren't banned, but they can't sell policies that cover benefits provided by the federal plan. That leaves them with a very niche market -- covering elective services, such as cosmetic surgery.

Public option

More moderate candidates are pushing for a so-called public option, which is a government-backed insurance plan.
While a public option can take several forms, several contenders would add such a plan to the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Theoretically, the public option should be more affordable for consumers because the government could use its heft to negotiate lower rates with doctors and hospitals and to reduce costs. How effective it would be depends on how it's set up, and most candidates haven't delved into the nitty gritty details.
Some seeking the nomination see a public option as an initial step towards a Medicare for All-type overhaul. But others say the best way to extend coverage to more Americans is to offer a public plan and also increase federal subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies. 

Affordable Care Act

This is Obamacare, and it affects all Americans’ health care today. Passed in 2010, the landmark law made sweeping changes to the nation's health care system. Some of its more notable provisions included creating the individual insurance market exchanges and expanding Medicaid to more lower-income Americans, both of which began in 2014. 
Some 11.4 million people signed up for 2019 policies on the exchanges, and 12.7 million folks are covered by Medicaid expansion. 
The law allowed children to stay on their parents' policies until the age of 26. And it barred insurers from denying coverage or charging higher rates to consumers based pre-existing protections. Insurers must also provide comprehensive benefits, including prescription drugs, maternity and mental health. 

Employer-sponsored insurance

Roughly half of Americans — or more than 150 million people — get their health insurance through their jobs today.
Three-quarters of the public have favorable views of work-based coverage, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Of those with such plans, 86% rate their coverage as either "excellent" or "good."
But these policies have become much more expensive in recent years. Annual premiums for a family plan cost almost $20,000, on average, last year, with workers contributing about $5,550 and employers paying the rest, according to another Kaiser survey.
Since 2008, average family premiums have increased 55%, twice as fast as workers' earnings and three times as fast as inflation, according to Kaiser.
Deductibles have also risen swiftly, contributing to the financial pinch many Americans feel when they need medical care. The average deductible for an individual is now nearly $1,575 for those workers who have one, up from $735 in 2008, Kaiser found.


Created in 1965, this federal program provides health insurance for roughly 60 million elderly and disabled Americans. It covers hospitalization, rehabilitation and doctors' visits, but not vision, hearing, dental and long-term care.
Medicare enrollees pay premiums, have deductibles and typically pay 20% of many medical services. There is also no out-of-pocket spending limit for hospitalization or outpatient services, unlike Affordable Care Act and employer plans. About three in 10 enrollees buy supplemental Medigap plans from insurers to help defray the cost of care, while roughly the same number are covered by retiree health plans from their employers.
Starting in 2006, Medicare began offering prescription drug coverage — known as Part D — through private insurers that contract with the government.
About one-third of Medicare participants are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans offered by private insurers. Some have to pay premiums, and most, if not all, have to share the cost of medical care. These policies are required to limit enrollees' out-of-pocket spending to $6,700 and may provide supplemental benefits, such as vision and dental. However, not all doctors and hospitals accept Medicare Advantage plans, while most do accept traditional Medicare.
Some candidates also favor a so-called Medicare buy-in plan, which would allow those younger than 65 to purchase Medicare or Medicare Advantage policies.
8:31 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

This is how each candidate kicked off tonight

Gabriella Demczuk for CNN
Gabriella Demczuk for CNN

The 10 candidate delivered their opening remarks at the Democratic debates in Detroit.

Here are some key quotes from their remarks:

  • Steve Bullock: "Look, I'm a pro-choice, pro-union, populist Democrat that won three elections in a red state, not by compromising our values but by getting stuff done."
  • Marianne Williamson: "We the American people must rise up and do what we do best and create a new possibility, say 'no' to what we don't want and 'yes' to what we know can be true."
  • John Delaney: "I'm the product of the American dream. I believe in it. I'm the grandson of immigrants, the son of a construction worker."
  • Tim Ryan: "Most families when they go to sit at the kitchen table to do their bills, they get a pit in the middle of their stomach. We deserve better. And the political system is broken, too, because the entire conversation is about left or right, where are you at on the political system and I'm here to say this isn't about left or right. This is about new and better and it's not about reforming old systems. It's about building new systems and tonight, I will offer solutions that are bold, that are realistic, and that are a clean break from the past."
  • John Hickenlooper: "Some will promise a will or plan for tonight but we focused on was making sure we got people together to get things done, to provide solutions to problems, to make sure that we work together and created jobs. That's how we're going to beat Donald Trump. That's how we're going to win Michigan and the country."
  • Amy Klobuchar: "You're going to hear a lot of promises up here, but I'm gonna will tell you this. Yes, I have bold ideas but they are grounded in reality. And, yes, I will make some simple promises. I can win this. I'm from the Midwest. And I have won every race, every place, every time."
  • Beto O'Rourke: "I'm running for president because I believe that America discovers its greatness at its moments of greatest need. This moment will define us forever, and I believe that in this test America will be redeemed. In the face of cruelty and fear from a lawless president, we will choose to be the nation that stands up for the human rights of everyone, for the rule of law for everyone and a democracy that serves everyone."
  • Pete Buttigieg: "I'm running for president because our country is running out of time. It is even bigger than the emergency of the Trump presidency. Ask yourself how somebody like Donald Trump ever gets within cheating distance of the oval office in the first place?"
  • Elizabeth Warren: "Our problems did not start with Donald Trump. Donald Trump is part of a corrupt, rigged system that has helped the wealthy and the well connected and kicked dirt in the faces of everyone else."
  • Bernie Sanders: "We have got to take on Trump's racism, sexism and come together in an unprecedented grassroots movement that not only defeats Trump, but to transform our economy and our government."

8:19 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Here are the rules for tonight's debate

Candidates will be given 60 seconds to respond to a moderator-directed question, and 30 seconds for responses and rebuttals.

How it works:

  • Colored lights will be used to help the candidates manage their remaining response times: 15 seconds = yellow; 5 seconds = flashing red; no time remaining = solid red.
  • A candidate attacked by name by another candidate will be given 30 seconds to respond.
  • There will be no show of hands or one-word, down-the-line questions.
  • A candidate who consistently interrupts will have his or her time reduced.
  • Questions posed by the moderators will appear on the bottom of the screen for television viewers.
8:24 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Detroit-based choir performs the National Anthem

Mark Peterson/Redux for CNN
Mark Peterson/Redux for CNN

Pastor Marvin Winans and the Perfecting Church Choir performed the National Anthem as the candidates took a moment to honor the flag.

All the candidates stood in a single line during the anthem. All but Tim Ryan held their hands over the hearts.

8:03 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

The first night of the debate just started

The first night of CNN's 2020 Democratic debate just kicked off.

We're introducing the candidates now. Remember: 10 are on stage tonight, and another 10 will take the stage tomorrow.

7:56 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

DNC chair tells crowd: "Presidents should inspire, not exhaust us"

Mark Peterson/Redux for CNN
Mark Peterson/Redux for CNN

Tom Perez, chairman for the Democratic National Committee, criticized President Trump in his remarks before tonight's debate.

Perez slammed the Trump administration's policies on taxes, health care and jobs. He also took a jab at Trump for his attacks on Baltimore and Rep. Elijah Cummings, describing the President's behavior as "mean-spirited" and "racially motivated."

"Democrats have your back on the issues that matter most. While this President has had a knife in your back," he said.

Perez went on to describe the Democratic presidential hopefuls as "the most diverse field of candidates in our nation's history."

He then a made to pitch for a Democratic president.

"Presidents are supposed to be uniters, not dividers. Presidents should inspire, not exhaust us. Presidents should make our lives better, not worse," Perez said.
7:46 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

These are the topics people want to hear about the most

CNN asked our readers to submit their top debate topic for CNN’s Democratic presidential debates Tuesday and Wednesday.

With nearly 50,000 responses, climate crisis was the top topic, followed by the economy and health care.

7:41 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Pete Buttigieg plays multiple instruments, including the Didgeridoo

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg plays the piano, guitar and several instruments including the Didgeridoo — a long wooden trumpet believed to have originated by Indigenous Australians in northern Australia.

Buttigieg is in his second term as mayor. He served as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan. He’s positioned himself as a moderate in the field, suggesting that his opponents’ proposals for universal health coverage and free college tuition aren’t realistic.