Democrats don’t hold back at Nevada Debate

Grace Bouton

In the wake of the Iowa and New Hampshire Caucus results and Mike Bloomberg’s qualification for his first debate, candidates showed little restraint as they took the stage for the most recent Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. Though moderators and candidates brought up issues ranging from racism to immigration, the issues that dominated the debate stage were climate change, health care and electability.


Climate Change

Given that the debate took place in Las Vegas, a city where effects of global warming pose a threat to both the tourism industry and citizens health according to the Nevada Independent, climate change was at the forefront of moderator questions. Though all candidates were able to agree upon the severity of climate change, their plans to combat the issue differed in most respects. This again highlighted the separation among the moderate and progressive candidates in terms of what role they think the government should play in this issue.

Joe Biden

Biden promised to fund infrastructure that would help transition the U.S. economy to renewable energy sources while providing jobs for the many Americans who work in coal industries. He also claimed he would eliminate all federal subsidies for carbon and gas and raise tariffs against China if they continue to sell dirty coal.

Mike Bloomberg

In contrast to Biden, Bloomberg focused on cultivating relationships with foreign powers like China and negotiating his way to a climate agreement rather than using threats. Additionally, he, like all of the other candidates, promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement and make the U.S. the global leader on climate change.

Amy Klobuchar

Among the candidates who also pledged to rejoin the Paris Agreement, Klobuchar separated herself from her opponents by insisting that carbon tax revenue be given “to people who will struggle to pay the bills” in dividends. 

Pete Buttigieg

Once again, Buttigieg used climate change to pivot to the question of Bloomberg’s and Sanders electability. By connecting the polarizing nature of the two frontrunners to a Trump victory in 2020, Buttigieg demonstrated how an unelectable democratic nominee is the largest obstacle to tackling climate change. He also explained how granting subsidies to industries like agriculture can allow such industries to transition smoothly to sustainable practices.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren pledged to stop all mining and drilling on public land while also connecting the problem of corruption in government to the larger issue of climate change. She pointed to her anti-corruption bill as a way to tackle the interference of fossil fuel lobbyists in the legislature.

Bernie Sanders

Sanders promised a total ban on fracking within five years and pointed to the Green New Deal as a way to counter the job loss with that ban and most effectively tackle climate change.

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Bloomberg, Warren, Sanders, and Biden all fight to get their point in at the recent Democratic Debate in Nevada

Health Care

As in many other debates, health care was an issue that both dominated the stage and divided the candidates into progressive (Warren and Sanders) and moderate (Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Biden and Bloomberg) camps. The larger issue of healthcare also elicited conflict over political ideologies and brought the role of socialism in the Democratic party to the forefront of the debate.


Biden stayed consistent with his previous views of promising to expand on Obamacare. More specifically, he pledged to eliminate surprise billing and absurdly high drug prices.


Bloomberg fell more on the side of Klobuchar, Biden and Buttigieg when it came to health care. He pledged not to walk away from Obamacare and instead insisted that building upon it is the best path forward.


Klobuchar promised to expand access to Medicaid and Medicare programs until Americans can transition to completely universal health care. However, in this debate, Klobuchar spent more time defending herself against Warren’s accusation of her plan being a “Post-it note: insert plan here,” than actually expanding on her position, according to Politico.


Buttigieg clung to the middle ground when it came to healthcare. He promised to guarantee healthcare for all without a single-payer system. He also accused Sanders’ plan, which brings all Americans onto public insurance, of being condescending to the many union workers and other Americans who like their private insurance.


Warren attacked Klobuchar’s plan and accused Buttigieg of having a “thin version of a plan that would leave millions of people unable to afford their health care.”


Sanders again brought up how the U.S. spends twice as much as any other developed nation on health care per person, and insisted a single-payer system that eliminates copays and absurd drug prices would act as the solution to the healthcare crisis in America. As in many other debates, other candidates questioned how Sanders intends to pay for his plan while he continued to insist that a wealth tax and stricter regulations on pharmaceutical companies would balance the budget.


As this was Bloomberg’s first debate appearance, a majority of the night’s biggest moments were exchanges concerning his history with women in the workplace and his similarities to President Trump. Though Sanders managed to avoid most of the conflict despite being the frontrunner, his conflicts over his connection to socialism proved to be the most memorable exchanges of the night. Bloomberg’s and Sanders’ success in national polls resulted in the majority of attacks surrounding the two leading candidates as trailing opponents attempted to close the gap in upcoming caucuses in states such as Nevada.

Most Memorable Moments

  • Warren started off the debate swinging at opponent Bloomberg by using sexist remarks from his past as her ammunition.

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg,” Warren said.

  • Warren again launched attacks at Bloomberg by bringing up his company’s hostility toward female employees and the non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that the company signed with employees. Warren cornered Bloomberg by inquiring about releasing those women from NDAs.

    Warren and Bloomberg argue over issues ranging from his history with woman to his stop and frisk policies as mayor of New York City
  • Buttigieg attacked the two frontrunners, Sanders and Bloomberg, by claiming they are both too polarizing for the Democratic nomination.

“We shouldn’t have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out,” Buttigieg said.

  • Bloomberg fought back against Sanders’ criticisms of Bloomberg’s extreme wealth.

“What a wonderful country we have. The best-known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses,” Bloomberg said.

  • Warren launched an onslaught of attacks on Bloomberg including a comparison to Trump.

“Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another,” Warren said.

  • Sanders responded to Bloomberg’s accusations of his policies being communist and ineffective.

“We are living in many ways in a socialist society right now. The problem is, as Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us, [that] we have socialism for the very rich, rugged individualism for the poor,” Sanders said.