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After 1st debates, how 2020 Democrats positioned themselves on the campaign trail

After the first debates of the 2020 presidential campaign, candidates sought to build on their momentum or reposition themselves over the weekend. Sen. Kamala Harris fended off attacks from the Trump campaign, while other 2020 Democrats came to her defense. Meanwhile, immigration and conditions at U.S. detention centers continued to galvanize candidates who called the status quo “inhumane.”

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  • William Brangham:

    Heading into the Fourth of July, the Democratic presidential candidates were out in full force.

    As Yamiche Alcindor reports, major themes from the first debates, including race, criminal justice and immigration, made their way onto the campaign trail.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    Happy Pride!

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    This weekend, at San Francisco's Pride Parade, Senator Kamala Harris rocked the crowd. After her breakout debate performance, the California Democrat is hoping to build on her momentum.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    We remember those who have fought for civil rights, for equality.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Harris' campaign has announced that, in the 24 hours following Thursday's debate, it raised an eye-popping $2 million online.

    It was there that she criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for his past opposition to busing students to desegregate public schools.

    But since then, Harris has been the target of online racist attacks. They have questioned whether she is black enough, as the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, to speak about issues facing African-Americans.

    On Saturday, President Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. retweeted and then deleted a tweet that said — quote — "Kamala Harris is not a black American. She's half-Indian and half-Jamaican."

    A flurry of Harris' 2020 Democratic competitors quickly came to her defense. Biden wrote on Twitter: "The same forces of hatred rooted in the birtherism movement, which Donald Trump fueled against candidate and then President Barack Obama to question Obama's citizenship and race, are now being used against Harris."

    And New Jersey Senator Cory Booker tweeted that Harris didn't have anything to prove. All that comes as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is dealing with tough issues of race and equality in his city. Last month in South Bend, a white police officer shot a black man.

    Over the weekend, Buttigieg participated in a peace walk with city and faith leaders there.

  • Pete Buttigieg:

    The challenge we face here in South Bend is symptomatic of the national challenge, whether we're talking about mistrust between communities of color and police departments, or whether we're talking about the much bigger pictures of the consequences of systemic racism.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Today, he attended a prayer event with community members.

    The mayor has been one of the few Democratic candidates to talk about how his faith guides his progressive values.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.:

    There is God in every one of us.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    On Saturday, though, at a civil rights event in Chicago, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren made some of her most personal and public comments on her faith.

    Also at the event, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Both spoke about the need for equality.

  • Julian Castro:

    I will not criminalize desperation.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Meanwhile, social justice and immigration policy remained a centerpiece of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro's campaign.

    Over the weekend, Castro visited a migrant center holding children in Clint, Texas. There, he again called for decriminalizing illegal entry into the United States.

    Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke also rallied supporters in a visit to the Clint facility over the weekend after clashing with Castro over immigration in the debate.

    O'Rourke also visited shelter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. There, he criticized a new Trump administration policy that requires migrants to wait in Mexico while applying for asylum in the U.S.

  • Beto O’Rourke (through translator):

    They are waiting weeks, months, even years possibly to get justice in our system in the United States.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Speaking in Spanish, O'Rourke also called the administration's remain-in-Mexico policy unlawful and inhumane.

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