On February 7, seven Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Manchester, New Hampshire for a spirited debate ahead of the state's February 11 primary. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and businessman Tom Steyer qualified for the February New Hampshire debate. Currently, Sanders leads the most recent polls of New Hampshire followed by Buttigieg, with Biden and Warren tied for third.
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On February 7, seven Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Manchester, New Hampshire for a spirited debate ahead of the state's February 11 primary. ABC News and WMUR-TV in partnership with Apple News hosted the eighth debate of the 2020 Democratic primaries at St. Anslem's College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and businessman Tom Steyer qualified for the February New Hampshire debate. ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, ABC World News Tonight Anchor David Muir, ABC News Correspondent Linsey Davis, WMUR Political Director Adam Sexton, and WMUR anchor Monica Hernandez moderated. The debate came four days after the February 3 Iowa caucuses, which traditionally have set the tone for the rest of the field. But after a series of meltdowns and errors in the reporting of the results that kept snowballing over the course of the week, the Iowa caucuses ended up being one of the most disastrous elections in recent political history. The results of the Iowa Democratic caucuses with 100% of precincts reporting showed Sen. Bernie Sanders narrowly leading Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the popular vote and statistically tied in state-delegate equivalents (SDEs), the metric usually used to determine the winner. But the days of chaos and confusion surrounding the Iowa caucuses resulting in no clear winner being declared have thrown the entire race into a state of uncertainty, making this debate a crucial opportunity for candidates to shape the narrative they want ahead of Tuesday's primary. In Real Clear Politics' average of New Hampshire polls, Sanders leads the field with 26% support on average compared to 22% for Buttigieg, 13% each for Biden and Warren, 8% for Klobuchar, 3.3% for Yang, and 3% for Steyer. Here are the five biggest moments from Friday's debate: SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders declares victory in the Iowa caucuses moments after the DNC demands a recanvass of the results SEE ALSO: Why Bernie Sanders won Iowa's popular vote, but Pete Buttigieg may win the state's Electoral College Joe Biden conceded he may lose the New Hampshire primary to Bernie Sanders
Right at the outset of the debate, Biden acknowledged that he is likely to lose New Hampshire's primary, likely to Sanders and Warren. In Iowa, Biden had a disappointing fourth-place finish. He trailed three of his opponents, earning just 13.7% of the statewide vote and 16% of state delegate equivalents, and coming in seven percentage points behind the third-place finisher Warren. As several analysts pointed out, Iowa was never expected to be a prime pickup opportunity for Biden, given that the state's Democratic primary electorate is considerably whiter, more college-educated, and left-leaning than his base and the Democratic primary electorate. But still, earning just 13% of the statewide vote is a troubling sign for his future prospects — and a major blow to his core argument that he is most electable. Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1225950309559738369?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Biden: "I took a hit in Iowa, and I'll probably take a hit here." #DemDebate #fitn pic.twitter.com/eOMS4v13Dt Amy Klobuchar took direct aim at Mayor Pete Buttigieg's argument that a "Washington outsider" should be president
Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1225956296853278725?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Amy Klobuchar goes after Pete Buttigieg's inexperience: "It is easy to go after Washington, because that's a popular thing to do...We have a newcomer in the White House, and look where it got us. I think having some experience is a good thing." pic.twitter.com/C6mDOXZU7z Biden got the debate hall to rise to a standing ovation for Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Counsel official who testified in Trump's impeachment inquiry
On Friday, Trump fired Vindman, an Army foreign area officer detailed to the White House, who gave powerful testimony in Trump's impeachment hearings last month. As Insider reported earlier today, both Vindman and his twin brother Yevgeny were abruptly dismissed and escorted off the premises of the White House. "Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, a senior lawyer and ethics official at the National Security Council, and a decorated Iraq war veteran, was escorted off of the grounds of the White House, suddenly and with no explanation, despite over two decades of loyal service to this country," Vindman's attorney David Pressman said in a statement to Insider. Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1225959035700207616?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Biden asks the audience to give Alexander Vindman, who was escorted out of the White House today, a standing ovation: "[Trump] should be pinning a medal on Vindman and not on Rush Limbaugh." pic.twitter.com/lMsHyaT8IQ Sanders took the extraordinary step of calling Saudi Arabia's powerful leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) a "murderer"
While Bernie Sanders himself is a long-time critic of US military and economic support for Saudi Arabia, it's rare for major elected officials -- and unprecedented for a major presidential candidate -- to describe key Saudi leaders in such stark terms. On the debate stage, Sanders took aim at Saudi Arabia's human rights record and specifically the killing of Saudi journalist and Washington Post opinion writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered by Saudi agents in Instanbul in November 2018. In discussing Saudi Arabia, Sanders called the crown prince "a terrible murderer" over the Khashoggi murder. Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1225963897502326785?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw THIS is why @BernieSanders is ready to be commander-in-chief"You got Mohammad Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia who is a terrible murderer who murdered Khashoggi in cold blood and dismembered his body"CALLING. IT. OUT. ON. THE. DEBATE. STAGE. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/RhyFQj5GGC Pete Buttigieg was put on the spot over the rise in marijuana possession arrests in South Bend, and was called out by Elizabeth Warren for his answer
Despite his skill as fundraiser and campaigner, Buttigieg has consistently struggled among African-American and Latino voters, continuing to poll at or close to 0% among black voters. In an effort to improve his standing among black voters, Buttigieg has rolled out economic empowerment and criminal justice plans but has had to contend with his own controversial record on those issues. At the debate, ABC correspondent Linsey Davis challenged Buttigieg over the rise in marijuana possession arrests under his tenure in South Bend, Indiana, where he served as mayor for eight years. After Buttigieg's somewhat evasive answer, Warren directly said "no" when Davis asked if Buttigieg's response was substantial, winning applause from the audience. Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1225974250747633665?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Buttigieg attempts to explain the increase in black arrests in South Bend under his leadership for marijuana possession.ABC's Linsey Davis: "Sen. Warren, is that a substantial answer from Mayor Buttigieg?"Warren: "No." pic.twitter.com/iesdxQTXK3 Read more: Joe Biden begins the Democratic debate by conceding he'll probably do poorly in the New Hampshire primary The Iowa caucuses were one of the most disastrous elections in political memory — and dragged several campaigns down with them LIVE RESULTS: Buttigieg and Sanders are nearly tied as the final votes from controversial Iowa caucus come in