Beto O’Rourke’s Spanish, Cory Booker’s stare: Top 7 takeaways from Wednesday’s Democratic debate

WASHINGTON – It was their first chance to shine. 

On a crowded stage in Miami on Wednesday, Democrats tried to stick out — offering their ideas, policies and one-liners hoping for a viral moment.

The two-hour debate allowed a chance for voters to get acquainted with 10 of the 24 candidates and how they plan to beat President Donald Trump in 2020. On Thursday, 10 more candidates who qualified for the debate will take the stage. 

Here are some of the key moments from Wednesday’s debate: 

1. Beto O’Rourke speaking Spanish and that Cory Booker stare

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke was the first candidate of the Democratic debate to answer a question not only in English, but also in Spanish — and people took notice allowing him a chance to stick out on the crowded stage. 

O’Rourke, who hails from the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, was asked whether he would support a 70% marginal tax rate. Instead of answering that question immediately, O’Rourke talked about the economy and said he didn’t believe it was working for everyone. He also touched on several other topics, including ending gerrymandering and political action committees. 

“Right now we have a system that favors those who can pay for access and outcomes,” he went on to say. “That’s how you can explain an economy that is rigged to corporations and to the very wealthiest.”

As he was speaking, those on social media noticed Sen. Cory Booker’s face and the glare he was giving O’Rourke. Later, Booker also spoke Spanish when asked about immigration. 

Latino voters are an increasingly important block of voters in the primary election. In addition, the debate is being held in Miami, where many voters are bilingual. 

2. Klobuchar defends female candidates on abortion 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee touted his record of protecting reproductive rights for women — saying he had done more than any of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. 

Inslee said he was the “only candidate” onstage who has signed a law protecting women’s rights to abortion. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., immediately responded with a laugh, before reminding the governor who he was onstage with three female candidates. “I just want to say there’s three women up here that have fought pretty hard for a women’s right to choose, I’ll start with that.” 

Over the past couple of months, several states have passed restrictive abortion laws. 

Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia passed bills that ban abortion after six weeks. Alabama also passed a near-total ban on abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Missouri also passed a law that bans abortions after eight weeks, and with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. 

3. De Blasio cuts off candidates

Polling around 1 percent, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio is trying to get noticed and he cut off other candidates several times to get the spotlight. 

De Blasio stopped O’Rourke as they were talking about health coverage. It was the first tense moment between candidates during the debate.

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