Top Responses From The Second Half Of The First Democratic Debate

The second group of Democratic presidential candidates took center stage at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami for the party’s first 2020 debate.

The group consisted of former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, activist Marianne Williamson and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

A total of seven topics were discussed: economy, health care, immigration, gun control, civil rights, climate change and foreign policy.

Here are the top responses from the debate stage last night:



Moderator Savannah Guthrie: “Sen. Sanders I will give you 10 seconds just to answer the very direct question: will you raise taxes for the middle class in a Sanders administration?”

Sanders: “People who have health care under Medicare for all will have no premiums, no deductibles, no copayments, no out-of-pocket expenses. Yes, they will pay more in taxes but less in health care for what they get.”

Income Inequality

Guthrie: “Vice President Biden, Sen. Sanders as you know has been calling for revolution. Recently, in remarks to a group of wealthy donors as you were speaking about the problem of income inequality in this country you said we shouldn’t quote demonize the rich. You said nobody has to be punished, no one’s standard of living would change, nothing would fundamentally change. What did you mean by that?”

Biden: “What I meant by that is look, Donald Trump thinks Wall Street built America. Ordinary middle-class Americans built America. My dad used to have an expression he said, ‘Joe a job is about a lot more than a paycheck; it’s about your dignity, it’s about respect, it’s being able to look your kid in the eye and say everything’s going to be okay.’ Too many people who are in the middle class and poor have had the bottom fall out under this proposal. What I am saying is that we’ve got to be straightforward. We have to make sure we understand that to return dignity to the middle class they have to have insurance that is covered and they can afford it. They have to make sure that we are in situation where there’s continuing education and they are able to pay for it and they have to make sure that they are able to breathe air that is clean and they have water that they can drink. Look, Donald Trump has put us in a horrible situation. We do have enormous income inequality and one thing I agree honestly can make massive cuts in the $1.6 trillion in tax loopholes out there and I would be going about eliminating Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy.”


Guthrie: “Gov. Hickenlooper, let me get you in on this. You’ve warned that Democrats will lose in 2020 if they embrace socialism, as you put it. You were booed at the California Democratic Convention when you said that. Only one candidate on this stage, Sen. Sanders, identifies himself as a Democratic socialist. What are the policies or positions of your opponents that you think are veering towards socialism.”

Hickenlooper: “Well, I think that the bottom line is, if we don’t clearly define that we are not socialists, the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialists. And if you look at the Green New Deal, which I admire the sense of urgency and how important it is to do climate change, I’m a scientist, but we can’t promise every American a government job if you want to get universal health care coverage. I believe that health care is a right and not a privilege, but you can’t expect to eliminate private insurance for 180 million people, many of whom don’t want to give it up. In Colorado, we brought businesses and nonprofits together. We got to near universal health care coverage. We were the first state in America to bring the environmental community and the oil and gas industry to address, aggressively address methane emissions. And we were also the first place to–to expand reproductive rights on a scale basis that we reduced teen pregnancy by 54 percent. We’ve done the big progressive things people said it couldn’t be done. I’ve done what pretty much everyone else up here is still talking about doing.”

Sanders: “Well, I think the responses at the polls, last poll I saw had us 10 points ahead of Donald Trump, because the American people understand that Trump is a phony, that Trump is a pathological liar and a racist, and then he lied to the American people during his campaign. He said he was going to stand up for working families. Well, President Trump, you’re not standing up for working families when you try to throw 32 million people off the health care that they have and that 83 percent of your tax benefits go to the top 1 percent. That’s how we be Trump. We expose him for the fraud that he is.”

Gillibrand: “I disagree with both their perspectives. The debate we’re having in our party right now is confusing because the truth is there’s a big difference between capitalism on the one hand and greed on the other. And so, all the things that we’re trying to change is when companies care more about profits when they do about people. So, if you’re talking about ending gun violence, it’s the greed of the NRA and the gun manufacturers that make any progress impossible. It’s the greed of the insurance companies and the drug companies when we want to try to get health care as a right and not a privilege.”

Free College

Diaz-Balart: “Many of your colleagues on stage support free college. You [Buttigieg] do not. Why not?”

Buttigieg: “Sure. So, college affordability is personal for us. Chasten and I have six figure student debt. I believe in reducing student debt. It’s logical to me that if you can refinance your house you ought to be able to refinance your student debt. I also believe in free college for low and middle income students for whom cost could be a barrier. I just don’t believe it makes sense to ask working class families to subsidize even the children of billionaires. I think the children of the wealthiest Americans can pay at least a little bit of tuition. And while I want tuition costs to go down, I don’t think we can buy down every last penny for that. Now, there’s something else that doesn’t get talked about in the college affordability debate. Yes, it needs to be more affordable in this country to go to college. It also needs to be more affordable in this country to not go to college. You should be able to live well, afford rent, be generous to your church and little league, whether you went to college or not. That’s one of many reasons we need to raise the minimum wage to at least $15.00 an hour.”


Harris: “Hey, guys. You know what? America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we’re going to put food on their table. So, on that point, part of the issue that is at play in America today, and we’ve all been traveling around the country, I certainly have, I’m meeting people who are working two and three jobs. You know, this president walks around talking about and flouting his great economy, right? My great economy. My great economy. You ask him, well, how are you measuring this greatness of this economy of yours and he talks about the stock market. Well, that’s fine if you own stocks. So many families in America do not. You ask him how are you measuring the greatness of this economy of yours and they point to the jobless numbers and the unemployment numbers. Well, yeah, people in America are working. They’re working two and three jobs. So, when we talk about jobs, let’s be very clear. In our America, no one should have to work more than one job to have a roof over their head and food on the table.”


Medicare For All

Holt: “Many people watching at home have health insurance of their employer. Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government run plan?”

Gillibrand: “So, this is a very important issue. So, the plan that Sen. Sanders and I and other support Medicare for All is how you get to single payer, but it has a buy-in transition period, which is really important. In 2005, when I ran for Congress in a two to one republican district, I actually ran on  Medicare for All and I won that two-to-one Republican district twice. And the way I formulated it was simple. Anyone who doesn’t have access to insurance they like, they could buy it in a percentage of income they could afford. So, that’s what we put into the transition period for our Medicare for All Plan. I believe we need to get to universal health care as a right, not a privilege to single payer. The quickest way you get there is you create competition with the insurers. God bless the insurers if they want to compete, they can certainly try. But, they’d never put people over their profits and I doubt they ever will. So, what will happen is people will choose Medicare. You will transition. We would get to  Medicare for All. And then your step to single payer is so short. I would make it an earned benefit just like Social Security, so that you buy in your whole life. It is always there for you and it’s permanent and it’s universal.”

Buttigieg: “Yeah, we’ve taught look, everybody who says  Medicare for All, every person in politics who allows that phrase to escape their lips has a responsibility to explain how you’re actually supposed to get from here to there. Now here’s how I would do it. It’s very similar. I would call it Medicare for All Who Want It. you take something like Medicare, a flavor of that, and you make it available on the exchanges it. People can buy in. and then if people like us are right that that will be not only a more inclusive plan, but a more efficient plan than any of the corporate answers out there, then it will be a very natural glide path to the single payer environment. But, let’s remember even in countries that have outright socialized medicine, like England, even there there’s still a private sector, that’s fine. It’s just that for our primary care we can’t be relying on the tender verses of the corporate system. This one is very personal for me. I started out this year dealing with a terminal illness of my father. I make decisions for a living and nothing could have prepared me for the kind of decisions our family faced. But, the thing we had going for us was that we never had to make those decisions based on whether it was gonna bankrupt our family because of Medicare. And I want every family to have that same freedom to do what is medically right.”

Holt: “Vice President Biden, I want to put the question to you. You were one of the architects of Obamacare. So, where do we go from here?”

Biden: “So, yes. I’m with Bernie on Medicare for all. And let me tell you why. I spent a big chunk of my life studying why families go broke. And one of the number-one reasons is the cost of health care, medical bills. And that’s not just for people who don’t have insurance. It’s for people who have insurance. Look at the business model of an insurance company. It’s to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums and to pay out as few dollars as possible for your health care. That leaves families with rising premiums, rising copays, and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the health care that their doctors say that they and their children need. Medicare for all solves that problem. And I understand. There are a lot of politicians who say, oh, it’s just not possible, we just can’t do it, have a lot of political reasons for this. What they’re really telling you is they just won’t fight for it. Well, health care is a basic human right, and I will fight for basic human rights.”

Big Pharma

Williamson: “Well, first of all the government should never have made the deal with the big pharma at that they couldn’t negotiate; that was just part of the regular corruption by which multinational corporations have their way with us. You know I wanted to say that while I agree with Sen. Bennet and others but I agree with almost everything here I will tell you one thing it’s really nice if we got all these plans but if you think we are going to beat Donald Trump by just having all of these plans you’ve got another thing coming because he didn’t when by saying he had a plan. He won by simply saying make America great again. We’ve got to get deeper than just the superficial fixes as important as they are. Even if we are just talking about the superficial fixes ladies and gentlemen we don’t have a health care system in the United States, we have a sickness care system in the United States. We just wait until somebody gets sick and then we talk about who’s going to pay for the treatment and how they are going to be treated. What we need to talk about is why so many Americans have unnecessary chronic illnesses so many more compared to other countries and that gets back into not just the big pharma, not just health insurance companies. It has to do with chemical policies. It has to do with environmental policies. It has to do with food policies. It has to do with drug policies. It even has to do with environmental policies.”

Health Care For Undocumented Immigrants

Buttigieg: “Our country is healthier when everybody is healthier. And remember, we’re talking about something people are getting a chance to buy into. In the same way that there are undocumented immigrants in my community who pay, they pay sales taxes, they pay property taxes directly or indirectly. This is not about a handout. This is an insurance program. And we do ourselves no favor by having 11 million undocumented people in our country be unable to access health care. But of course, the real problem is we shouldn’t have 11 million undocumented people with no pathway to citizenship. It makes no sense. And the American people agree on what to do. This is the crazy thing. If leadership consists of forming a consensus around a divisive issue, this White House has divided us around a consensus issue. The American people want a pathway to citizenship. They wanted protections for Dreamers. We need to clean up the lawful immigration system, like how my father immigrated to this country. And as part of a compromise, we can do whatever commonsense measures are needed at the border. But Washington can’t deliver on something the American people want. What does that tell you about the system we’re living in? It tells you it needs profound structural reform.”

Biden: “Yes. You cannot let, as the mayor said, you cannot let people who are sick, no matter where they come from, no matter what their status, go uncovered. You can’t do that. It’s just going to be taking care of, period. You have to. It’s the humane thing to do. But here’s the deal. The deal is that he’s right about three things. Number one, they in fact contribute to the well-being of the country, but they also–for example, they’ve increased the lifespan of Social Security because they’re–they have a job. They’re paying the Social Security tax. That’s what they’re doing. It’s increase the lifespan. They would do the same thing in terms of reducing the overall cost of health care by them being able to be treated and not wait until there in extremis. The other thing is, folks, look, we can deal with these insurance companies. We can deal with insurance companies by, number one, putting insurance executives in jail for their misleading–their misleading advertising, what they’re doing on opioids they’re doing paying doctors to prescribe. We should, we could be doing this by making sure everyone who is on Medicare that the government should be able to negotiate the price for whatever the drug costs are.”


Gillibrand: “I want to talk directly to America’s women and to men who love them. Women’s reproductive rights are under assault by President Trump and the Republican party. Thirty states are trying to overturn Roe v. Wade right now. And it is mind boggling to me that we are debating this on this stage in 2019 among democrats whether women should have access to reproductive rights. I think we have to stop playing defense and start playing offense. But let me tell you one thing about politics because it goes to the corruption of the deal making–when the door is closed negotiations are made. There are conversations about women’s rights and compromises have been made behind our backs. That’s how we got to Hyde. That’s how the Hyde Amendment was created. A compromise by leaders of both parties. Then we have the ACA. During the ACA \negotiations I had to fight like heck with other women to make sure that contraception wasn’t sold down the river or abortion services. And so, what we need to know is imagine this one question: When we beat President Trump and Mitch McConnell walks into the Oval Office god forbid to do negotiations, who do you want when that door closes to be sitting behind that desk to fight for women’s rights? I have been the fiercest advocate for women’s reproductive freedom for over a decade.”


Undocumented Immigrants 

Diaz-Balart: “Governor [Hickenlooper], day one, thousands of men, women and children cross the border asking for asylum for a better life. What do you do? One, day one, hour one?”

Hickenlooper: “Certainly the images we’ve seen this week just compound the emotional impact that the world is judging us by. If you had ever told me any time in my life that this country would sanction federal agents to take children from the arms of their parents, put them in cages, actually put them up for adoption – in Colorado we call that kidnapping. I would have called you, I would have told you, it was unbelievable. And the first thing we have to do is recognize the humanitarian crisis on the border for what it is and make sure there are sufficient facilities in place so that women and children are not separated from their families. The children are with their families. We have to make sure that ICE is completely reformed. And they begin looking at their job in a humanitarian way where they are addressing the whole needs of the people that they are engaged with along the border. And we have to make sure, ultimately, that we provide not just shelter, but food, clothing and access to medical care.”

Williamson: “This is collective child abuse. And when this is crime, both of those things are a crime, and if your government does it that doesn’t make it less of a crime. These are state-sponsored crimes. And what President Trump has done is not only attack these children, not only demonize these immigrants, he is attacking a basic principle of America’s moral core. We open our hearts to the stranger. This is extremely important and it’s also important for all of us remember and I have great respect for everyone who is on this stage but we are going to talk about what to do about health care. Well, where have you been guys? Because if it’s not just the matter of a plan and I haven’t heard anybody on this stage who has talked about American foreign policy in Latin America and how we might have in the last few decades contributed to something being more helpful.”

Gillibrand: “Well, one of the worst things about President Trump that he has done to this country is he has torn apart the moral fabric of who we are. When he started separating children at the border from their parents, the fact that seven children have died in his custody, the fact that dozens of children have been separated from their parents and they have no plan to reunite them, so I would do a few things. First, I would fight for comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Second, I would reform how we treat asylum-seekers at the border. I would have a community-based treatment center where you are doing it within the communities where asylum-seekers are given lawyers, where there is real immigration judges, not employees of the attorney general but appointed for life and have a community-based system. I would fund borders security. But the worst thing President Trump has done is he has diverted the funds away from cross-border terrorism, cross-border human trafficking, drug trafficking and gun trafficking and he is given that money to the for-profit prisons. I would not be spending money in for profit prisons to lock up children and asylum-seekers.”

Swalwell: “No, that person can be a part of this great American experience. That person can contribute. My congressional district is one of the most diverse in America, and we see the benefits when people contribute and they become a part of the community and they’re not in the shadow economy. Day one for me, families are reunited. This president, though, for immigrants, there is nothing he will not do two separate a family, cage a child, or erase their existence by weaponizing the census. And there is nothing that we cannot do in the courts and that I will not do as president to reverse that and to make sure that families always belong together.”


Biggest Threat To U.S.

Holt: “Mr. Yang, let me bring you in on this on the issue of China. You’ve expressed also of concerns about technology and taking jobs. Are you worried about China? And, if so, how would you stand up against it?”

Yang: “Well, I just want to agree that I think Russia is our biggest geopolitical threat because they’ve been hacking our democracy successfully. They’ve been laughing their asses off about it for the last couple of years and we should focus on that before we start worrying about other threats. Now, China, they do pirate our intellectual property. It’s a massive problem. But the tariffs and the trade war are just punishing businesses and producers and workers on both sides. I met with a farmer in Iowa who said he spent six years building up a buying relationship in China that’s now disappeared and gone forever. And the beneficiaries have not been American workers or–or people in China. It’s been Southeast Asia and other producers that have then stepped into the void. So, we need to–to crack down on Chinese malfeasance in the trade relationship but the tariffs and the trade war are the wrong way to go.”

Buttigieg: “Yeah, I mean first of all, we’ve got to recognize that the China challenge really is a serious one. This is not something to dismiss or wave away. And if you look at what China is doing. They’re using technology for the perfection of dictatorship. But, their fundamental economic model isn’t gonna change because of some tariffs. I live in the industrial Midwest. Folks who aren’t in the shadow of a factory or somewhere near a soy field where I live. And manufacturers, and especially soy farmers, are hurting. Tariffs are taxes. And Americans are gonna pay on average $800 more a year because of these tariffs. Meanwhile, China is investing so that they could soon be able to run circles around us in artificial intelligence. And this president is fixated on the China relationship as if all that mattered was the export balance on dishwashers. We’ve got a much bigger issue on our hands. But in a moment when their authoritarian model is being held up as an alternative to ours because ours looks so chaotic compared to theirs right now because of our internal divisions. The biggest thing we’ve got to do is invest in our own domestic competitiveness. If we disinvest in our own infrastructure, education we are never gonna be able to compete. And if we really want to be an alternative, a democratic alternative, we actually have to demonstrate that we care about democratic values at home.”


Officer-Involved Shooting

Moderator Rchael Maddow: “Your [Buttigieg] community of South Bend, Indiana has recently been in uproar over an officer-involved shooting. The police force in South Bend is now six percent black in a city that is 26 percent black. Why has that not improved over your two terms as mayor?”

Buttigieg: “Because I couldn’t get it done. My community is in anguish right now because of an officer-involved shooting. A black man Eric Logan killed by a white officer. And I’m not allowed to take sides until the investigation comes back. The officer says he was attacked with a knife, but he didn’t have his body camera on. It’s a mess. And we’re hurting. And I could walk you through all of the things that we have done as a community – all of the steps that we took from bias training to de-escalation but it didn’t save the life of Eric Logan. And when I look into his mother’s eyes I have to face the fact and nothing that I say will bring him back. This is an issue that is facing our community and so many communities around the country. And until we move policing out from the shadow of systemic racism, whatever this particular incident teaches us, we will be left with the bigger problem of the fact that there is a wall of mistrust put up one racist act at a time. Not just from what has happened in the past but what’s happening around the country in the present. It threatens the well being of every community. And I am determined to bring about a day when a white person driving a vehicle and a black person driving a vehicle when they see a police officer approaching feels the exact same thing. A feeling not of fear but of safety. I’m determined to bring that day about.”

Hickenlooper: “I think that the question they are asking in South Bend I think across the country is why is it taking so long? We had a shooting when I first became mayor 10 years before Ferguson and the community came together and we created an office of the independent monitor–civilian oversight commission. We diversified the police force in two years. We actually did de-escalation training. I think the real question that America should be asking is why five years after Ferguson every city doesn’t have this level of police accountability?”

Buttigieg: “I’ve got to respond to that. Look, we’ve taken so many steps toward police accountability that the FOP just denounced me for too much accountability. We’re obviously not there yet. And I accept responsibility for that…”

Swalwell: “You should fire the chief.”

Buttigieg: “So, under Indiana law this will be investigated. And there will be accountability for the officer involved.”

Swalwell: “But you’re the mayor. You should fire the chief if that’s the policy and someone died.”

Biden’s Record

Harris: “So, on the issue of race, I couldn’t agree more that this is an issue that is still not being talked about truthfully and honestly. I–there is not a black man I know, be he a relative, a friend or a coworker who has not been the subject of some form of profiling or discrimination. Growing up, my sister and I had to deal with the neighbor who told us her parents couldn’t play with us because she–because we were black. And I will say also that–that in this campaign, we’ve also heard–and I’m going to now direct this to Vice President Biden. 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 was actually very, it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose bussing. And you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bussed to school every day and that little girl was me. So, I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly. As attorney general of California, I was very proud to put in place a requirement that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on.”

Biden: “That’s a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true, number one. Number two, if we want to have this campaign litigated on who supports civil rights and whether I did or not, I’m happy to do that. I was a public defender. I didn’t become a prosecutor. I came out and I left a good law firm to become a public defender when in fact — when in fact — when in fact my city was in flames because of the–the assassination of Dr. King, number one. Now, number two, as the U.S.–as–excuse me–as the vice president of the United States, I worked with a man who in fact, we worked very hard to see to it we dealt with these issues in a major, major way. The fact is that in terms of busing, the busing, I never–you would’ve been able to go to school the same exact way because it was a local decision made by your city council. That’s fine. That’s one of the things I argued for that we should not be–we should be breaking down these lines. But, so, the bottom line here is, look, everything I have done in my career–I ran because of civil rights. I continue to think we have to make fundamental changes in civil rights. And those civil rights, by the way, include not just African Americans, but the LGBT community. They don’t…”

Harris: “But, Vice President Biden do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then?”

Biden: “No.”

Harris: “Do you agree?”

Biden: “I did not oppose bussing in America. What I opposed is bussing ordered by the Department of Education. That’s what I opposed. I did not oppose…”

Harris: “Well, there was a failure of states to integrate public schools in America. I was part of the second class to integrate, Berkley, California Public Schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education.”

Biden: “Because your city council made that decision. It was a local decision.”

Harris: “So, that’s where the federal government must step in.”

Biden: “The federal government must…”

Harris: “That’s why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That’s why we need to pass the Equality Act. That’s why we need to pass the ERA because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people.”

Biden: “I supported the ERA from the very beginning. I am the guy that extended the voting rights act for 25 years. We got to the place where we got 98 out of 98 votes in the United States Senate doing it. I have also argued very strongly that we in fact deal with the notion of denying people access to the ballot box. I agree that everybody once they in fact – my time is up. I’m sorry.”


California’s Wildfires

Moderator Chuck Todd: “Sen. Harris, addressing you first on this. You live in a state that has been hit by drought, wildfires, flooding, climate change it is a major concern for voters in your state that’s pretty obvious. Obvious of the state as well. Last night, voters heard many of the candidates weigh in on their proposals, explain specifically what yours is.”

Harris: Well, first of all I don’t even call it climate change. It’s a climate crisis. It represents an existential threat to us as a species. And the fact that we have a President of the United States who has embraced science fiction over science fact will be to our collective peril. I visited while the embers were smoldering the wildfires in California I spoke with firefighters who were in the midst of fighting a fire while their own homes were burning. And on this issue it is a critical issue that is about what we must do to confront what is immediate and before us right now. That is why I support a Green New Deal. It is why I believe on day one and as President will re-enter us in the Paris agreement because we have to take these issues seriously and frankly, we have a President of the United States we talked about you asked before what is the greatest national security threat to the United States? It’s Donald Trump. And I’m going to tell you why. And I’m going to tell you why because I agree climate change represents an existential threat. He denies the science…”


Gun Buyback Program

Maddow: “Congressman Swalwell, among this field of candidates you have a unique position on gun reform. You’re proposing that the government should buy back every assault weapon in America and it should be mandator. How do you envision that working especially in states where gun rights are a flashpoint?”

Swalwell: “Keep your pistols, keep your rifles, keep your shotguns but we can take the most dangerous weapons from the most dangerous people. We have the NRA on the ropes because of the moms, because the Brady Group, because of Giffords, because of March for Our Lives. But I’m the only candidate on this stage calling for a ban and buyback of every single assault weapon in America. I’ve seen the plans of the other candidates here. They would all leave 15 million assault in our communities. They wouldn’t do a single thing to save a single life in Parkland. I will approach this issue as a prosecutor. I will approach it as the only person on this stage who has voted and passed background checks, but also as a parent of a generation who sends our children to school where we look at what they’re wearing so we can remember it in case we have to identify them later. A generation who has seen thousands of black children killed in our streets and a generation who goes to the theater and we actually where the fire exits are. We don’t have to live this way. We must be a country who loves our children more than we love our guns.”

Harris: “Thank you. I think your idea is a great one, Congressman Swalwell. And I will say there are a lot of great idea. The problem is Congress has not had the courage to act, which is why, when elected president of the United States, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to pull their act together, bring all these good ideas together, and put a bill on my desk for signature. And if they do not, I will take executive action and I will put in place–The most comprehensive background check policy we’ve had. I will require the ATF to take the licenses of gun dealers who violate the law. And I will banned by executive order the importation of assault weapons, because I’m going to tell you, as a prosecutor, I have seen more autopsy photographs than I care to tell you. I have hugged more mothers who are the mothers of homicide victims, and I have attended more police officer funerals. It is enough. It is enough. And there have been plenty of good ideas from members of the United States Congress. There’s been no action. As president, I will take action.”

Maddow: “Mayor Buttigieg, I want to bring you in on this, sir – a lot of discussion about assault rifles that are often as shorthanded as military style weapons. You are the only person on the stage tonight with military experience as a veteran of the Afghanistan war. Will military families–does that inform your thinking on this view? Do you believe that military families or America’s veterans will, at large, have a different take on this than the other Americans who we’ve been talking about and who Congressman Swalwell is appealing to with his buyback program?”

Buttigieg: “Yeah, of course, because we trained on some of these kinds of weapons. Look, every part of my life experience informs this, being the mayor of a city where the worst part of the job is dealing with violence. We lose as many as were lost at Parkland every two or three years in my city alone. And this is tearing communities apart. If more guns made us safer, we be the safest country on earth. It doesn’t work that way. And commonsense measures like universal background checks can’t seem to get delivered by Washington, even when most Republicans, let alone most Americans, agree it’s the right thing to do. And as somebody who trained on weapons of war, I can tell you that there are weapons that have absolutely no place in American cities or neighborhoods in peacetime, ever.”

Biden: “I’m the only person that’s beaten the NRA nationally. I’m the guy that got the Brady Bill passed, the background checks, number one. Number two, we increased that background check when–when–during the Obama-Biden administration. I’m also the only guy that got assault weapons banned, banned, and the number of clips in a gun banned. And so, folks, look, and I would buy back those weapons. We already started talking about that. We tried to get it done. I think it can be done. And it should be demanded that we do it, and that’s a good expenditure of money. And lastly, we should have smart guns. No gun should be able to be sold unless your biometric measure could pull that trigger. It’s within our right to do that. We can do that. Our enemy is the gun manufacturers, not the NRA, the gun manufacturers.”