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Which candidates clashed during the 2nd 2020 Democratic debate

The Thursday debate among a second group of 10 Democratic presidential candidates featured participants scrambling to talk over each other and several heated exchanges. Tense moments included Sen. Kamala Harris confronting former Vice President Joe Biden over his record on race and Rep. Eric Swalwell challenging Pete Buttigieg’s response to a police shooting in his city. Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The very first presidential primary debates for the 2020 cycle are now over, but last night's round two brought a new twist to the Democratic contest, a twist whose repercussions stretched into today.

    Lisa Desjardins starts there.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Today, another important stage for former Vice President Joe Biden.

  • Joe Biden:

    I would like to say something about the debate we had last night.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In Chicago, talking to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, he stressed his history working for civil rights and clarified he is not for states' rights on the issue.

  • Joe Biden:

    These rights are not up to the states to decide. They are the federal government's duty to decide.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This after a week of criticism, starting with Biden's words about working in the past with people he disagreed with, and he named two senators known as ardent segregationists.

    On last night's debate stage, California Senator Kamala Harris raised that directly to Biden.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground.

    But, I also believe — and it's personal. And I — I was actually very — it was hurtful.

  • Joseph Biden:

    That's a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists.

    That is not true.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But Harris' most forceful criticism of the former vice president came after she told a personal story about being bused to an integrated public school as a child.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then?

  • Joseph Biden:


  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    Do you agree?

  • Joseph Biden:

    I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That's what I opposed. I did not oppose…

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    Well, there was a failure of — of states to — to integrate…

  • Joseph Biden:

    No, but…

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    … public schools in America.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Today, Biden tried to clarify, but stopped short of saying the federal government should have enforced all busing.

  • Joseph Biden:

    I never, never, ever opposed voluntary busing. And it's a program that Senator Harris participated in.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Harris' name is ringing. Hers was the performance that most resonated last night at a Democratic debate watch party in Miami.

  • Frances Knapp:

    I think she was forceful. She was to the point. She was empathetic. She was really sharp tonight.

  • Allie Geiger:

    I think Kamala Harris has a really good chance. I think women are tired of being ignored. I think minorities are tired of being ignored.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But Biden too had fans, who said he can win with swing voters.

  • Louis Bondi:

    He is middle of the road and he explains things to them. And he's a centrist.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The debate itself was more raucous than the previous night, with candidates early on speaking over each other in attempts to get time. And there was more heat and challenge.

    California Congressman Eric Swalwell said Biden had his time in leadership, and should step aside now.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.:

    Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago. He's still right today.

  • Joseph Biden:

    I'm still holding on to that torch.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders aimed to contrast himself with the more moderate Biden, invoking his 2016 battle cry.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.:

    We need a political revolution. People have got to stand up and take on the special interests. We can transform this country.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg tackled questions about how he is handling the shooting of a black man killed by a white officer there and why his city's police force has few officers of color.

  • Pete Buttigieg:

    We're obviously not there yet. And I accept responsibility for that, because I'm in charge.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif:

    You should fire the chief.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    For the second night in a row, candidates showed a divide on health care. The more moderate candidates, like former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, pushed back on Sanders' sweeping Medicare for all plan, instead arguing for an optional government-run insurance plan instead.

  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.:

    And that every family and every person in America can make a choice for their family about whether they want a public option.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    With a crowded stage and front-runners getting the most early questions, other candidates, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in particular, fought to insert themselves into the debate.

  • Question:

    We are going to talk about health care at length, Senator, but at — for the moment, my colleague…

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.:

    I wrote the part in Senator Sanders' bill — I wrote the part in Senator Sanders' bill that is the transition, which merges what the two senators said.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Political outsiders author Marianne Williamson and entrepreneur Andrew Yang spoke the least. Yang said today his microphone was turned off most of the night, a charge NBC flatly denied. Both raised ideas not brought up otherwise, including this from Williamson on race:

  • Marianne Williamson:

    And the Democratic Party should be on the side of reparations for slavery for this very reason.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    All 10 candidates agreed on one significant issue, that their health care plans would covered undocumented immigrants.

    The Democratic candidates will share the debate stage again next month.

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