Harris Goes After Trump, Yang Gives Out ‘Freedom Dividends’
In Thursday’s Democratic debate in Houston, California senator Kamala Harris stuck to a strict Trump-bashing script while entrepreneur Andrew Yang continued to advocate for redistributing money to ‘the people’ as the ten Democratic candidates discussed health care and gun control.
Neither candidate is considered a top-tier Democratic candidate on the level of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden. This debate was an opportunity for both candidates to improve their polling numbers and to angle for a break-out moment.
Harris could have used another moment like her earlier attack on Biden’s busing record to regain some momentum, but she opted for a safer target: President Trump. In her opening statement, Harris addressed Trump directly, setting the tone for the rest of her performance.
“President Trump, you have spent the last two-and-a-half years full time trying to sow hate and division among us, and that’s why we’ve gotten nothing done,” Harris said. “You have used hate, intimidation, fear and over 12,000 lies as a way to distract from your failed policies and your broken policies.”
In a CNN interview after the debate, Harris called attacking Trump a “through-line” in her campaign, and said she has always been focused on ‘prosecuting the case’ against him. Throughout the rest of the night, Harris brandished a variety of one-liners and further Trump insults while defending her criminal justice record.
Harris has been facing criticism for her record as a prosecutor, and she fielded tough questions during the debate, with one moderator calling her out for switching positions on the legalization of marijuana and on supporting outside investigations of police shootings.
Harris argued there had been “distortions of [her] record,” and ended her defense of her time as a prosecutor with the admission that she was not able to get “enough done.”
She focused instead on reiterating her current progressive policies on criminal justice and arguing that her experience as a prosecutor made her the best person to deal with the criminal justice system.
“As President of the United States, knowing the system from the inside, I will have the ability to be an effective leader and get this job complete,” Harris said.
Harris also promised to hold China accountable, pointed to her experience combatting climate change in California, and swore to invest in HBCUs and close the teacher pay gap. She ended the night by telling the audience about all the times in her career she was told ‘no’ because she was a black woman.
“You have to believe in what can be, unburdened by what has been,” Harris said.
Meanwhile, Yang doubled down on his insistence that his universal basic income program could solve most of the issues facing the country, and pledged in his opening speech to give ‘freedom dividends’ of $1,000 per month to ten families for a year.
“In America today, everything revolves around the all-mighty dollar,” Yang said, adding “it’s time to trust ourselves more than our politicians.”
His announcement was met with chuckles from Harris and amusement from other candidates, but Yang continued to circle back to his universal basic income plan throughout the night.
He advocated for giving ‘Democracy dollars’ to individuals, who could use them to support candidates and reduce the power of lobbies. Yang also championed higher pay for teachers, supported raising the limits on legal immigration and said that he would pursue a new trade deal with China.
“There’s the people on one side and the money on the other,” said Yang. “The only way for us to win is if we bring them together.”
Yang finished up by pointing to his experience as an entrepreneur and promising to “make this an economy that allows us to live our human values and aspirations.”
Little attention was payed to the national economy or to women’s rights issues during the debate, a fact that Harris mentioned immediately after the debates, tweeting “the #DemDebate was three hours long and not one question about abortion or reproductive rights.”
WHAT THE RIGHT ARE SAYING: Republican Meghan McCain: “Whatever you have to say about Yang’s policies – I aim to be this level of vibe and energy about our electoral process.”
Whatever you have to say about Yang’s policies – I aim to be this level of vibe and energy about our electoral process. ???????????????????????? https://t.co/JQwc8OlhzU
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) September 13, 2019
WHAT THE LEFT ARE SAYING: Congressman John Delaney: “The country needs leadership. Leadership that is serious (this is not a game), has the right temperament, has a vision and ideas for the future, and has the actual experience – in government, business & non-profit – to make it happen. We didn’t see that last night at the debates.”
The country needs leadership. Leadership that is serious (this is not a game), has the right temperament, has a vision and ideas for the future, and has the actual experience – in government, business & non profit – to make it happen. We didn't see that last night at the debates
— John Delaney (@JohnDelaney) September 13, 2019