Three Takeaways From The First Biden-Sanders Democratic Debate

Democratic presidential hopefuls former US vice president Joe Biden (L) and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (R) take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Wash... Democratic presidential hopefuls former US vice president Joe Biden (L) and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (R) take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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March 15, 2020 10:26 p.m.
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Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dealt a number of blows to each other throughout their first debate since the Democratic primary has narrowed down to a two-man race.

After devoting almost an hour to discussing the coronavirus, a topic that loomed over the debate, the candidates hit each other for their voting records and how they would approach Cabinet appointments.

Here are three takeaways from the debate:

Biden says he “agrees” with Sanders on Wall Street bailout

The moderators’ noted Sanders’ opposition to the 2008 bank bailout and asked whether he’d support bailouts for industries affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

“We need to stabilize the economy,” Sanders replied, “but we can’t repeat what we did in 2008. Joe voted for that. I voted against it. Because we have got to do more than save the banks or the oil companies.”

Asked the same question, Biden said, “Had those banks gone under, all those people would be in deep trouble. Deep, deep trouble. All those little folks would have gone out of business.”

Biden added that he “agrees” with Sanders that “someone should have gone to jail” in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

“That was the big disagreement I had in terms of bailing out,” Biden said.

Sanders later went after Biden for his voting record on several issues, which included the Defense of Marriage Act, the bankruptcy bill, the Iraq war, NAFTA and the Hyde Amendment.

Medicare for All in the time of COVID-19

Asked a question about the capacity of the U.S. health care system — which faces a potential shortage of key supplies such as ICUs and ventilators — Sanders brought up his Medicare For All plan.

“I obviously believe in Medicare For All — I will fight for that as President,” Sanders said. “But right now, in this emergency, I want every person in this country to understand what when you get sick, you go to the doctor. When you get sick, if you have the virus, that will be paid for. Do not worry about the cost right now. Because we’re in the middle of a national emergency.”

Biden replied by pointing out that Italy has a single-payer system, and the country is currently extremely hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden commits to choosing a woman as his running mate

Asked how their Cabinets will ensure the best advice on issues that affect women’s health, Biden responded that he’s committing that his vice presidential pick would be a woman.

“Number one: I committed that if I’m elected president and have an opportunity to appoint someone to the courts, I’ll appoint the first black woman of the courts — it’s required they have representation now, it’s long overdue,” Biden said. “Secondly, if I’m elected president, my cabinet, my administration will look like the country. And I commit that I will, in fact, appoint a woman to be vice president. There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow.”

Sanders chimed in, saying that “in all likelihood, I will” pick a woman as my vice president as well, citing how his “very strong tendency is to move in that direction.”

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