Daily Video

October 16, 2019

Super Civics 2020: The fourth Democratic debate


Directions: Watch the video, read the summary and the AP Fact Check story and answer the discussion questions. The full debate can be seen here.

Read AP FACT CHECK: Do candidates’ claims in the Democratic debate hold up?  Ask students: Do you think fact-checking articles and organizations (Politifact, etc.) are necessary? Explain.


Summary: In the fourth Democratic presidential debate October 15 – the largest in U.S. history – a dozen candidates outlined their positions on health care, gun control, impeachment and taxes. The current front runner in the polls, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, was a target, as other candidates vied for attention. The latest polls show Warren in front with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders following in second and third, far ahead of the rest of the candidates.


Discussion questions:

1) Essential question: What is the purpose of Democratic presidential debates?

2) What does the large number of Democratic candidates running for president say about the political process?

3) What issues were debated? What issues were missing?* Why do you think this was the case?

4) Why did several of the candidates direct their arguments at Elizabeth Warren?

5) Who had a strong debate performance? Who was weak? Explain.

6) Media literacy: Read NewsHour’s 5 Takeaways from the Democratic Debate. What parts of the analysis do you agree with? Disagree with? 


*Climate change, housing, family separation at the border, education


Extension activity:

  1. Bankruptcy Bill’s Connection to Student Debt Crisis: During the debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for supporting the 2005 bankruptcy bill and hurting many working and middle-class Americans. Watch the explanation (stop at the 6m:00s, for time’s sake) by the moderators of the progressive Youtube news show, The Young Turks. (Check out Politico’s article on how the bankruptcy bill has been a source of contention for Biden and Sen. Warren for some time.)
    • What does the bankruptcy bill have to do with the student loan crisis?
    • Why do you think lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, included a provision in the 2005 bill that would exclude private student loan debt from bankruptcy protections?
    • What did Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware (who has endorsed Biden) say in response to the question as to whether or not the vice president is responsible for making loan debt harder for students through the bankruptcy bill?
    • Media literacy questions:
      • Research other news outlets that discussed Sanders’ comment towards Biden about the bankruptcy bill. What news organizations covered this story? What did they have to say about it?
      • The Young Turks clearly state they have a progressive point-of-view. Do you think it is possible to report the news and not have some type of bias or viewpoint?

2. Watch this 1-minute AP video Democratic voters hope for smaller debate stage. Ask your students: What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a large debate stage?


For monthly updates containing teacher resources on Election 2020, click here.

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