NBC’s Liberal Debate Obsessions: Save Miami! Grab Guns! Fight Mitch McConnell!

The NBC and MSNBC hosts for the very first 2020 Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday catered to the party’s far-left base, offering questions about just how to take guns away from Americans, the need for aggressive action on climate change and repeated questions about how the nominee would fight the looming threat of Mitch McConnell. 

If anyone thought that far-left host Rachel Maddow wouldn’t make her presence felt, they were mistaken. She pushed the Democrats on the immediate need for more gun control: “Next to nothing has changed in federal law that might affect the prevalence of school shootings. Is this a problem that is going to continue to get worse over our lifetimes or is there something that you would do as president that you really think would turn it around?” 

 

 

Chuck Todd got into the act, lecturing Democrats on just how much gun control is needed: “What do you do about the hundreds of millions of guns already out there and does the federal government have to play a role in dealing with it?” Todd lobbied, “Do you think the federal government needs to figure out a way to go and get the guns that are already out there?” 

Senator McConnell, who has stymied the Democratic agenda and who kept Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee off the court, came up again and again as a liberal boogeyman that must be dealt with. Todd and Maddow asked the same question four times: How can we stop McConnell? 

 

 

RACHEL MADDOW: Mayor de Blasio, as an executive in the largest city in this country, you are used to saying what you want to have happen and having it happen. If you nominate a Supreme Court nominee, as president of the United States, and Mitch McConnell is still senate majority leader, what makes you believe that he would allow you to make a nominee? 

...

CHUCK TODD:  Senator Warren, I want to continue on the Mitch McConnell thing because you have a lot of ambitious plans. 

WARREN: I do. 
    
TODD: You have a plan for that. Okay. We talked about the Supreme Court. Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell if you don't beat him in the Senate, if he's still sitting there as the Senate Majority Leader? It's very plausible you'd be elected president with a Republican senate. Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell? 

...        

TODD: Congressman Delaney, you seem to believe you can do everything in a bipartisan manner. Mitch McConnell doesn't operate that way. He operates differently. Why do you think he is going to conform to your style? 

...

TODD: How do you deal with Mitch — you've been in the Senate. You can't get bills on the floor right now with Mitch McConnell. Presidents can't do it. Is President Booker going to get his bills on the floor with Senator McConnell? 

To Governor Jay Inslee, Maddow wondered if the Democrat would be able to save Miami: 

 

 

Governor Inslee, the next question is to you. You staked your candidacy on the issue of climate change. It's first, second and third priority for you. You said it's all the issues. Let's get specific. We're here in Miami which is already experiencing serious flooding on sunny days as a result of sea level rise. Parts of Miami beach and the keys could be underwater in our lifetimes. Does your plan save Miami? 

As for Trump, the liberal duo of Todd and Maddow offered a variation of whether or not any of these theoretical Democratic presidents would go after private citizen Trump: 

TODD: Congressman O'Rourke, special counsel Robert Mueller's report outlines multiple instances of potential criminal behavior by President Trump. House speaker Pelosi has publicly and privately resisted any move toward impeachment in the house. If the House chooses not to impeach, as president, would you do anything to address the potential crimes that were outlined in Mr. Mueller's report? 

O’ROURKE: Yes and I’ll tell you why. 

TODD: How, if the answer’s yes? 

...

MADDOW: Congressman Delaney, because of the accountability issues that Congressman O'Rourke was just describing there, and the real political landscape in which Nancy Pelosi is saying that impeachment will not be pursued in the House, it raises the prospect and the Mueller Report raises the prospect that President Trump could be prosecuted for some of those potential crimes down the line. No U.S. President has ever been prosecuted for crimes after leaving office. Do you believe that President Trump could or should be the first? 

Here are all the questions and follow-ups from the debate. Click “expand” to read more: 

2020 Democratic Debate
6/26/19
                
9:03

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We’ll start this evening with Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senator, good evening to you. 

ELIZABETH WARREN: Thank you. 

GUTHRIE: You have many plans. Free college. Free childcare. Government health care. Cancellation of student debt. New taxes. New regulations. The breakup of major corporations. This comes at a time when 71 percent of Americans say the economy is doing well. Including 60 percent of Democrats. What do you say to those who worry this kind of significant change could be risky to the economy? 

... 

9:04

GUTHRIE: Senator Klobuchar. You've called programs like free college something you might do if you were, quote, “a magic genie.” To be blunt, are the government programs and benefits some of your rivals are offering giving your voters, people, a false sense of what's actually achievable?

...

9:05

GUTHRIE: Congressman O'Rourke, what we've just been discussing and talking about is how much fundamental change to the economy is desirable and how much is actual doable. In that vein, some Democrats want a marginal tax rate of 70 percent on the very highest earners, those making more than $10 million a year. Would you support that, and if not, what would your top individual rate be?  

9:07

GUTHRIE: [To O’Rourke] I'll give you ten seconds to answer if you want to answer the direct question, would you support a 70 percent individual marginal tax rate, yes, no, or pass? 

BETO O’ROURKE: I would support a tax rate and tax code that's fair to everyone. Tax capital —  

GUTHRIE: 70 percent? 

...

9:07

GUTHRIE: Senator Booker, there is a debate in this party right now about the role of corporations as you know. Senator Warren in particular put out a plan to break up tech companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google. You said we should not, quote, “be running around pointing at companies and breaking them up without any kind of process.” Why do you disagree? 

9:09

GUTHRIE: Quickly, Senator Booker, you did say that you didn't think it was right to name names, to name companies and single them out as Senator Warren has. Briefly, why is that?

...

 9:09

GUTHRIE: Senator Warren, I mentioned you. Are you picking winners and losers?      

....

9:11

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Castro, the next question is for you, Democrats have been talking about the pay gap for decades. What would you do to ensure that women are paid fairly in this country? 

...

 9:12

HOLT:  I want to put the same question to Congresswoman Gabbard. Your thoughts on equal pay? 

...

9:13

JOSE DIAZ-BALART: Mayor de Blasio, you're the mayor of the biggest city in the United States, but it's also one of the cities in the country with a greatest gap between the wealthy and the poor. How would you address income inequality? 

...

9:14

DIAZ-BALART: Congressman Delaney, do you agree? 

...

9:15

DIAZ-BALART: Governor Inslee, how would you address income inequality? 

...

9:16

DIAZ-BALART: Congressman Ryan, President Trump — you just referred to him —  promised that manufacturing jobs were all coming back to places like your home state of Ohio. Can you make that same promise? 

...

9:18

DIAZ-BALART:  Senator Warren, are they coming back? Are these jobs coming back? 

...

9:20

HOLT: We're going to turn to the issue of health care right now. Really try to understand where there may or may not be daylight between you. Many people watching at home have health insurance coverage through their employer. Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan? Just a show of hands to start off with. [Warren and de Blasio raise their hands.] Well, Senator Klobuchar, let me put the question to you. You're one of the Democrats who wants to keep private insurance in addition to a government health care plan. Why is an incremental approach, in your view, better than a sweeping overhaul? 

...

9:21

HOLT: Senator Warren, you signed on to Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all plan. It would put essentially everybody on Medicare and then eliminate private plans that offer similar coverage. Is that the plan, or path, you would pursue as president? 

...

9:22

HOLT: Congressman O'Rourke, when you ran for Senate, you also praised a bill that would replace private insurance. This year, you're saying you're no longer sure. Can you explain why? 

...

9:23

HOLT: [To O’Rourke] I want to ask a follow-up on this. Just to be very clear. I'll give you ten seconds. Would you replace private insurance? 

...

9:25

HOLT: I’ve let this play out because I'm fascinated to hear the daylight between you. Congresswoman Gabbard, weigh in here. 

...

9:26

HOLT: Congresswoman, let me turn to Senator Booker on this. Senator Booker, explain to me where you are. This is hugely important people. Tell us where you are. 

...


HOLT: [On health care.] Senator Klobuchar? 

...

9:30

HOLT: Secretary Castro, this one is for you. All of you on stage support a woman's right for an abortion. You all support some version of a government health care option. Would your plan cover abortion, Mr. Secretary? 

9:30

HOLT:  Senator Warren, would you put limits on —  any limits on abortion?     

...        

9:31

DIAZ-BALART: Senator Booker, I want to come back on a discussion we were having about health and the opioid crisis. You represent a state where 14 of the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies are based. Should pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these drugs be held criminally liable for what they do? 

...

DIAZ-BALART: Congressman O’Rourke, how would you deal with it? 

9:35

DIAZ-BALART: We want to turn to an issue that has been in the news, especially this week. There are undocumented children being held alone in detention. Even as close as Homestead, Florida, right here, less than 30 miles from where we are tonight. Fathers and mothers and children are dying while trying to enter the United States of America. We saw that image today that broke our hearts and they had names. Oscar Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria died trying to cross the river to ask for asylum in this country. Last month, more than 130 thousand migrants were apprehended at the southern border. Secretary Castro, if you were president today, what would you specifically do? 

...

DIAZ BALART: Senator Booker, what would you do on day one. And this is a situation that the next president will inherit? 

...

9:41

DIAZ-BALART: [Speaks in Spanish] What would you do, Congressman, day one at the White House? 

9:44 

...

GUTHRIE: Senator Klobuchar, let's talk about what secretary Castro just said. He wants to no longer have it be a crime to illegally cross the border. Do you support that? Do you think it should be a civil offense only and if so, do you worry about potentially incentivizing people to come here?

... 
    
9:46

GUTHRIE: Congressman Ryan, same question. Should it be a crime to illegally cross the border or should be civil offense only? 

...

GUTHRIE: [To Cory Booker] Jose, asked a question. If you are president, on day one, what will you do with the fact that you will have families here? here's been a lot of talk about what you'll do in the first 100 days about legislation. What will you actually do with these families? How will you care for them? Will they be detained? Or will they not be? 

...

9:47

GUTHRIE: Let me go to governor inslee on this. What would you do on day one? Same question I just asked Cory booker. I have yet to hear an answer from anyone on this age. What will you do with the families who will be here? 

...

HOLT: We're going to talk about Iran right now because we're working against the clock. Tankers have been attacked. A U.S. drone has been shot down. There have been disturbing threats issued by both the U.S. And Iranian leadership. I'd like if you can just for a moment to put aside how you think we may have gotten here. What I want to know is how do you dial it back? A show of hands, who as president would sign on to the 2015 nuclear deal as it was originally negotiated? [All but Cory Booker’s hands go up.] Senator Booker, why not? 

...

9:51

HOLT: Senator Klobuchar, I'd like you to answer that question because you staid you would negotiate yourself back into the Iranian agreement. Can you argue that that nuclear pact as it was ratified was a good idea?  

...

9:52

HOLT: Congresswoman gabbard, you've said you would sign back onto the 2015 deal. Would you —  would you insist, though, that it address Iran's support for Hezbollah?    

...

9:54    

HOLT: [To Gabbard] What would your red line be for military action against Iran? 

10:00

LESTER HOLT: And to begin with, we're going to go with guns and Senator Warren, I want to start with you. We are less than 50 miles from Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last year and where there has been significant activism on gun violence ever since. Many of you are calling for a restoration of an assault weapons ban. Even if implemented there will still be hundreds of millions of guns in this country. Should there be a role for the federal government. Everybody's mics are on. I think we have a -- I heard that, too. That's okay. I think we had a little mic issue in the back. 

RACHEL MADDOW: Control room, we got -- 

TODD: I think we heard -- yeah, we have the audience audio. All right. So the question is simply this. I apologize to you guys didn't get to hear this. The first part of the question. Obviously, we're not far from Parkland, Florida. Gun activism has become a big part of high school life up there in Broward county. Many of you are calling for tighter gun restrictions. Some of you are calling for the restoration of the assault weapons ban. But even if it's put in place, there's still going to be, perhaps, hundreds of millions of guns still on the streets. Is there a role for the federal government in order to play -- in order to get these guns off the streets? 

...

10:06

TODD: Senator Warren, we're going to get to the question here, Parkland, Florida, it's just north of here in Broward county. It's created a lot of teenage activism on the gun issue. It has inspired a lot of you to come out with more robust plans to deal with guns. Including assault weapons ban. But even if you are able to implement that, what do you do about the hundreds of millions of guns already out there and does the federal government have to play a role in dealing with it? 

...

TODD: You didn’t address. Do you think the federal government needs to figure out a way to go and get the guns that are already out there? 

...

10:08

TODD: Senator Booker, you have a federal government buyback program in your plan. How is that going to work? 

10:09

MADDOW: Secretary Castro, I'd like to talk to you about something that Senator Booker just mentioned there. The idea of active shooter drills in schools. The school shootings seem like an almost every day or every week occurrence now. They don't make a complete news cycle anymore no matter the death toll. As parents are so afraid as their kids go off to school that their kids will be caught up in something like this. Next to nothing has changed in federal law that might affect the prevalence of school shootings. Is this a problem that is going to continue to get worse over our lifetimes or is there something that you would do as president that you really think would turn it around? 

...

10:11

MADDOW:  We'll give you 30 seconds for a follow-up on that question. On that answer from secretary Castro. Congressman Ryan. 

...

TODD: Congressman O'Rourke, you're a Texan, campaigned all over the state in 2018 in the most conservative parts there. What do you tell a gun owner who may agree with you on everything else? Okay, but says, you know what, the Democrats, if I vote for them, they're going to take my gun away and even though I agree with you on these other issues, how do you have that conversation? 

... 
    

10:13

TODD: Let me give 30 seconds, Senator Klobuchar, iron range, I'm curious, gun confiscation, right, if the government is buying back, how do you not have that conversation? 

...

10:14
            
MADDOW: [To Booker] Senator Mitch McConnell says his most consequential achievement of senate majority leader was preventing president Obama from filling a Supreme Court seat. Having served with Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, do you believe they would confirm your court nominees? 

...

10:16 

MADDOW: Mayor de Blasio, as an executive in the largest city in this country, you are used to saying what you want to have happen and having it happen. If you nominate a Supreme Court nominee, as president of the United States, and Mitch McConnell is still senate majority leader, what makes you believe that he would allow you to make a nominee? 

...

TODD:  Senator Warren, I want to continue on the Mitch McConnell thing because you have a lot of ambitious plans. 

WARREN: I do. 
    
TODD: You have a plan for that. Okay. We talked about the Supreme Court. Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell if you don't beat him in the senate, if he's still sitting there as the Senate Majority Leader? It's very plausible you'd be elected president with a Republican senate. Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell? 

...        

10:19

TODD: Congressman Delaney, you seem to believe you can do everything in a bipartisan manner. Mitch McConnell doesn't operate that way. He operates differently. Why do you think he is going to conform to your style? 

...

10:20

TODD: How do you deal with Mitch -- you've been in the Senate. You can't get bills on the floor right now with Mitch McConnell. Presidents can't do it. Is President Booker going to get his bills on the floor with Senator McConnell? 

...

MADDOW: Governor Inslee, the next question is to you. You staked your candidacy on the issue of climate change. It's first, second and third priority for you. You said it's all the issues. Let's get specific. We're here in Miami which is already experiencing serious flooding on sunny days as a result of sea level rise. Parts of Miami beach and the keys could be underwater in our lifetimes. Does your plan save Miami? 

...

10:23

TODD: Congressman O'Rourke, you also put out a big climate change plan from your campaign. You want some big changes in a pretty short period of time including switching to renewable energy, pushing to replace gas-powered cars in favor of electric ones. What's your message to a voter who supports the overall goal of what you're trying to do but suddenly feels as if government is telling them how to live and ordering them how to live? And ordering them how to live? What is that balance like? 
    
10:25                

TODD: Secretary Castro. Does who pays for the mitigation to climate, whether it's building sea walls, for people that are perhaps living in places that they shouldn't be living. Is this a federal government issue that needs to do that? Do they have to move these people? What do you do about that where maybe they're building a house someplace that isn't safe. Who pays to build that house and how much should the government be bailing them out? 

...

10:26

TODD: Congressman Ryan, I got a full question for you here, which is simply this. There are a lot of the climate plans include pricing carbon. Taxing carbon in some way. This type of proposal has been tried in a few places whether it's Washington state where voters voted it down. You've had the yellow vest movement. We had in Australia one party get rejected out of fear of the cost of climate change sort of being put on the backs of the consumer. If pricing carbon is just politically impossible, how do we pay for climate mitigation? 

...
...

10:29

TODD: Congresswoman Gabbard, we're going to move here. One of the first things you did after launching your campaign, issue an apology to the LGBTQ community about your past stances and statements on gay rights. After the Trump administration’s rollbacks of civil rights protections for many in that community, why should voters in that community or voters who care about the issue in general trust you now? 

10:31

MADDOW: Senator Klobuchar let me put this to you. on the issue of civil rights and demographics, honestly, and politics for decades -- on the issue of civil rights and demographics, honestly, and politics, for decades the Democratic Party has counted on African-American voter turnout as step one to winning elections on a national level. Democrats are counting on the Latino community now and in the future in the same way. What have you done for black and Latino voters that should enthuse them about going to the polls for you if you're your party's nominee? 

...

10:33

MADDOW: Senator, thank you very much. 30-second follow-up to you, Secretary Castro. This is a 70 percent Latino city in Miami. You're the only Latino Democrat who's running this year in the presidential race. Is that enough of an answer, what Klobuchar is describing there, an economic justice agenda? Is that enough to mobilize Latino voters to stand with the Democratic party in a big way? 

...

10:34

MADDOW: let me go over to Lester holt who's got a question, I believe a viewer question. 

HOLT: I'm over here, Chuck. Thanks. We asked voters from across the country to submit their questions to the candidates. Let me read one now. This comes from John in New York who submitted this question. He asks, "Does the United States have a responsibility to protect in the case of genocide or crimes against humanity, do we have a responsibility to intervene, to protect people, threatened by their government even when atrocities do not affect American core interests?" I'd like to direct that question to Congressman O’Rourke.  

10:36

MADDOW: [To Tim Ryan.] I want to pick up on this point and I want to put this to Congressman Ryan. Today the Taliban claimed responsibility for killing two American service members in Afghanistan. Leaders as disparate as president Obama and President Trump have both said they want to end U.S. Involvement in Afghanistan, but it isn't over for America. Why isn't it over? Why can't presidents of very different parties and very different temperaments get us out of there, and how could you? 

...

10:38

MADDOW: Congresswoman Gabbard, I’m going to give you 30 seconds to jump off what he said. He described engagement? 

    
10:38

TODD: I'm going to go down the line. I'm going to go down the line —  I'm going to go down the line here. [To Tim Ryan.] You know what, you felt like she was responding to you. You get 30 seconds. 
        

10:40

TODD: I want go to go down the line, finish up foreign policy. It’s a simple question. What is the biggest threat -- who is the geopolitical threat to the United States? Give me a one-word answer. Congressman Delaney. 

...

10:40

TODD: Governor Inslee? 

....

TODD: Congresswoman Gabbard? 

...

TODD: Senator Klobuchar? 

....

TODD: Try to keep it to slimmer than what we’ve been going there? 

...

TODD: Senator Warren? 

...

TODD: Senator Booker? 

....

TODD: Secretary Castro? 

...

TODD: Congressman Ryan? 

...

TODD: Mr. Mayor?  

10:42

TODD: Congressman O'Rourke, special counsel Robert Mueller's report outlines multiple instances of potential criminal behavior by President Trump. House speaker Pelosi has publicly and privately resisted any move toward impeachment in the house. If the House chooses not to impeach, as president, would you do anything to address the potential crimes that were outlined in Mr. Mueller's report? 

O’ROURKE: Yes and I’ll tell you why. 

TODD: How, if the answer’s yes? 

...

MADDOW: Congressman Delaney, because of the accountability issues that Congressman O'Rourke was just describing there, and the real political landscape in which Nancy Pelosi is saying that impeachment will not be pursued in the House, it raises the prospect and the Mueller Report raises the prospect that President Trump could be prosecuted for some of those potential crimes down the line. No U.S. President has ever been prosecuted for crimes after leaving office. Do you believe that President Trump could or should be the first? 

DELANEY: I guess there's always a first. 

MADDOW: Should he be the first? 

 

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