The Underdog Candidates Who Made Waves Wednesday Night

Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro speaks during the first night of the Democratic presidential primary debate. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
June 26, 2019 11:50 p.m.

In the first half hour of Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) seemed like the star of the show. But as the night wore on, a few of the lesser-known candidates earned themselves some standout moments.

On a debate stage packed with 10 Democrats, many of which the American people do not recognize, there were few chances for the candidates to distinguish themselves. But a few of the underdogs made a bigger impression than others

Julian Castro

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro planted a flag during the section of the debate on immigration. He laid out his plan to reverse President Trump’s border and immigration policies and then proceeded to challenge some of the other candidates as they proposed how they would address immigration.

After Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) discussed his plan to care for migrants at the southern border, Castro interjected to point out the specific law, section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, that he would seek to repeal, a move that would decriminalize entering the country without permission.

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A few minutes later, Castro went after former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, calling on him to push for the repeal of section 1325.

“The reason that they’re separating these children from their families is that they are using section 1325 of that act to criminalize coming across the border to incarcerate the parents and then separate them,” Castro said. “Some of us on this stage have called to end that section, to terminate it, some like Congressman O’Rourke have not, and I want to challenge all of the candidates to do that. I just think it’s a mistake, Beto.”

O’Rourke pushed back, arguing that he opposes criminalizing those crossing the border to seek asylum, but Castro insisted that was a different issue.

“I’m talking about everyone else,” Castro said, later adding one more jab: “If you did your homework on this issue, you would know we should repeal this section.”

Bill de Blasio

Interjecting is often frowned upon, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio used it to make an impression.

De Blasio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were the only two candidates on the stage to say they’d like to eliminate private insurance. As the other candidates explained why they opposed such a move, de Blasio took the opportunity to take a stand on the issue. Like Castro, de Blasio interrupted O’Rourke as he advocated against eliminating private insurance.

“Private insurance is not working for tens of millions of Americans when you talk about the co-pays, the deductibles, the premiums, the out of pocket expenses, it’s not working. How can you defend a system that is not working?” he asked O’Rourke

Amy Klobuchar

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) stood out with a few quips that drew a reaction from the audience.

When discussing foreign policy, she went after President Trump, specifically his moves escalating tension with Iran and tendency to tweet about sensitive foreign policy issues on the fly.

“This president is literally every single day 10 minutes away from going to war, one tweet away from going to war. I don’t think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5:00 in the morning,” she said, to applause and cheers from the crowd.

In another moment, Klobuchar reacted to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee touting his record on abortion rights, emphasizing that he was the one candidate on stage to have “advanced the ball.”

“I just want to say there’s three women up here who have fought pretty hard for a woman’s right to choose,” Klobuchar said in response, again to cheers from the audience.

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