Top Moments From the 3rd Democratic Debate

Ten candidates took the stage Thursday evening in Houston for the third debate of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race.

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Yang’s Big Reveal

The BIG reveal came in his opening statement: Ten families will be selected to get what he called a freedom dividend, $1,000 a month for a year, a preview of Yang’s proposal for a universal income for all Americans. Questions have been raised about whether the plan would be legal according to the Federal Election Commission.

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Inspired to Kill

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke blamed President Donald Trump directly for the slaughter in his hometown of El Paso last month: 22 people shot to death at a busy Walmart. In his opening statement, O’Rourke said that the shooting made “crystal clear” to him how dangerous Trump was, that the “racism and violence that have long been a part of America was welcomed out into the open.”

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The shooter was “inspired to kill by our president,” he said. Earlier today, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas, whom prosecutors say told them he was targeting Mexicans, was indicted in the deaths. A tweet seemed to soften his statement: "The shooter in El Paso was inspired by our president."

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O'Rourke wasn't the only one to blame Trump for inciting violence. Said California Sen. Kamala Harris: "He didn't pull the trigger, but he tweeted the ammunition."

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A Senior Moment?

Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro turned a disagreement over health care plans — a central issue that divides Democrats — into an attack on the front runner, former Vice President Joe Biden. “Are you forgetting what you said just two minutes ago,” Castro asked -- and then used the word "forgetting" repeatedly, a clear dig at Biden's age. Biden is 76.

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As they argued over what Biden had said about automatically enrolling 10 million people at danger of losing insurance, Castro claimed he was the one fulfilling the legacy of former President Barack Obama, not Biden. “That would be a surprise to him,” Biden rejoined.

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The squabble -- which highlighted Biden's recent gaffes -- drew rebukes from the other candidates. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, criticized "scoring points against each other." Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar cautioned that “A house divided cannot stand," and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker warned that Democrats had only one shot to unseat President Donald Trump.

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Hell Yes

Asked if he would take away certain guns, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke said he would if it were a weapon designed to kill people on the battlefield. “Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore."

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O’Rourke, who left the campaign trail for nearly two weeks after the shooting in El Paso, earned praise from the others for how he had handled himself. “Beto, God love you for standing so courageously in the face of that tragedy,” California Sen. Kamala Harris said.

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Shouting in the Seats

Protestors interrupted former Vice President Joe Biden as he was answering a question about what he had learned from setbacks. It was difficult to make out what they were shouting though they wore t-shirts reading, "Defend DACA, Abolish ICE, Citizenship for All," referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. Biden paused in his answer until they were removed from the debate hall. Afterward Biden talked about the deaths of his first wife, Neilia, and his daughter, Naomi, and later his son Beau and said he dealt with it by finding purpose.

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Corny Jokes

The attempts at humor began with Andrew Yang, who during a segment on health said, “I am Asian so I know a lot of doctors.”

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The famously bald Cory Booker mentioned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hair in the midst of a comment about national security and tariffs. "I'm the only person on this stage that finds Trudeau's hair very menacing,” he said.

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And asked whether Americans should become vegan as he is to fight climate change, he said: “First of all, I want to say no. Actually, I want to translate that into Spanish: 'No'."

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Honoring Obama

At this debate, Democrats went out of their way to pay tribute to former President Barack Obama, especially for his accomplishment on health care.

“I know the senator says she’s for Bernie,” former Vice President Joe Biden said of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “Well, I’m for Barack.”

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Biden advocates building on the Affordable Care Act, with a public option, while Warren and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont favor a “Medicare for All” proposal.

“We all owe a huge debt to President Obama, who fundamentally transformed health care in America and committed this country to health care for every human being,” Warren said.

Earlier this summer, they spent more time criticizing Obama, on immigration in particular, as they went after Biden.

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