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Several candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination appeared at a forum in Washington, D.C., on Monday, to discuss issues of poverty, race and inequality. Raising the minimum wage was a high-profile topic there, as well as at other campaign events around the country. Meanwhile, candidates also emphasized voting rights and closing the racial wealth gap. Yamiche Alcindor reports.
But first, The demands of working-class voters are front and center on the Democratic campaign trail.
As Yamiche Alcindor reports, most of the candidates are tackling a critical question, how to help America's poor.
Poverty, race and inequality, today, at a candidate forum in Washington, D.C., those were the topics of focus.
We have to raise a minimum wage to minimum $15 an hour. It's disgraceful someone works 40 hours a week and lives in poverty.
If you vote for me for president, by definition, that means you're ready for me to say we're going to have reparations for slavery, not just because of the economic force, but because of the spiritual and moral force that comes from the recognition that damage has been done, a wrong has been done, a debt is owed, and it shall now be paid.
Across the country over the weekend, Democratic candidates joined fast-food workers striking for higher wages, from Senator Kamala Harris in Las Vegas.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:
And we have got to recognize that working people deserve livable wages.
To Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke in Charleston, South Carolina.
Beto O’ Rourke:
You all ready to march?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
At a church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, O'Rourke later talked voting rights.
At the heart of our campaign is bringing everyone in, making sure that we're coming here to register tens of millions of our fellow Americans through automatic and same-day voter registration, that we remove obstacles like voter I.D. laws that keep people out of the ballot box.
Also in South Carolina this weekend, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
At a forum for black civic and business leaders, they spoke about closing the wealth gap between black and white Americans.
No one who works in this country ought to be poor. It's that simple.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.:
Two cents on the dollar on the fortunes above $50 million is enough to produce the kind of investment in America that would help to close the black-white wealth gap.
Senator Cory Booker showcased his plan to benefit people of color.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.:
The average black family, black child, under this program, would get close to $30,000, the average white child about $15,000. It would virtually eliminate the racial wealth gap, giving everybody a fair start in creating wealth in this economy.
Candidates will soon have another chance to make their case to the crucial early voting state. Later this week, nearly all of the 23 Democratic contenders plan to head to South Carolina's Democratic Convention.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.
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Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour; the moderator of Washington Week, the weekly public affairs show on PBS; and a political contributor for NBC News and MSNBC. She often tells stories about the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters. She is currently covering the administration of President Joe Biden and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
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