’An Erratic, Crazy President’: Democratic Presidential Candidates Attack Trump in Debate

The debate also saw some Democrats going after Warren as a front-runner

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Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The Democratic presidential primary hopefuls debated Tuesday in the shadow of the House impeachment inquiry, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, giving an update an hour before.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the leading contenders in polls, was on the campaign trail for the first time since his heart attack at the beginning of the month.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now a front-runner, with a poll from George Washington University released on Tuesday showing her leading.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is under attack by President Donald Trump and his allies over his son’s previous position on the board of a Ukraine gas company. Hunter Biden in an interview with ABC News admitted to poor judgment but said there had been no ethical lapse. 

Previous debates focused on domestic policy, but the Turkish invasion of Syria, and Trump’s decision to order the withdrawal of the American military, pushed foreign policy to the forefront.

Tuesday's three-hour meetup took place at Otterbein University in Ohio. It was sponsored by CNN and The New York Times.

Also appearing: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas, and Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang, both businessmen.

Here are some of the top moments from the evening.

"AN ERRATIC, CRAZY PRESIDENT"

Biden, as a former vice president, has extensive foreign experience, something his campaign has pointed to as a strength.

Asked how he would check the power of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the world stage, Biden criticized Trump: "We have an erratic, crazy president who knows not a damn thing about foreign policy and operates out of fear for his own reelection."

BIDEN DEFENDS HIMSELF, HIS SON OVER UKRAINE DEALINGS

Biden was asked why if his son had acted properly, he promised that if he were elected president, no members of his family would engage in foreign deals. Trump has repeatedly attacked Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine.

Biden said his son, “did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong."

While Biden was vice president and in charge of policy toward Ukraine, his son took a position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company for which he reportedly was paid $50,000 a month.

Hunter Biden also has pledged that he would not work for foreign-owned companies.

There is no evidence either Biden engaged in wrongdoing, but they have come under fire from Republicans. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, pressed Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, pressure that prompted Pelosi to begin a formal impeachment inquiry.

“I gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father. That’s where I made the mistake,” Hunter Biden said in an exclusive interview on "Good Morning America." “So I take full responsibility for that.”

A "PUNITIVE" WARREN? TARGETING A NEW FRONT-RUNNER
O'Rourke accused Warren of sometimes being "punitive" in her policy ideas.

O'Rourke said he thought Warren sometimes was "more focused on being punitive, or pitting some part of the country against the other, instead of lifting people up and making sure that this country comes together around those solutions."

Warren's response? She said she was shocked and added: "I don't have a beef with billionaires."

She said that they had relied on tax-funded roads and bridges and police officers as they made their fortunes. 

Warren, a front-runner in the race, was a target by several candidates.  Klobuchar and Buttigieg criticized her Medicare for All plan, accusing her of not being honest about how it would raise taxes on the middle class. 

"Your signature, senator, is to have a plan for everything, except this," Buttigieg said.

Warren retorted by calling Buttigieg's plan, "Medicare for all who can afford it."

HOW OLD IS TOO OLD?
Sanders, asked about his heart attack, said that the vigorous campaign he would be mounting across the country would show Americans they could be confident about his health.

The 78-year-old also took the opportunity to thank everyone who had sent love, prayers and best wishes after he was hospitalized in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 and had two stents inserted.

"I’m so happy to be back here with you this evening," he said.

Biden, who is 76 and would be 80 in a second term, was asked about former President Jimmy Carter's comment that he could not have handled the presidency at that age.

Biden responded that with age came wisdom and that was one of the reasons he had decided to run. The country needed a president who knew what needed to be done from the first day in office.

"I know what the job is," he said.

Warren, who is 70, said she would outwork, out-organize, and outlast anyone.

Gabbard, 38, said it was not fair to ask the three about their health and fitness but not the others. The real question, she said: "Who is fit to serve as our commander in chief."

IMPLEMENTING GUN CONTROL

O'Rourke and Buttigieg had a tense disagreement over O'Rourke's proposed mandatory buyback of assault rifles, with Buttigieg criticizing O'Rourke for not having a plan to make it work.

Buttigieg on Monday derided the proposal as a fight O'Rourke was picking as a way to stay relevant. He cited other gun-control proposals that have a better chance of being enacted: universal background checks and the ban of high-capacity magazines, for example.

O’Rourke replied that gun violence was a crisis that the country needed to do something about. Candidates should listen to gun-control groups such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and the student organized March for Our Lives, not polls, consultants and focus groups, he said.

"I don't need lessons from you on courage, political or personal,” Buttigieg responded.

BADA BING
Asked about breaking up big tech companies, Yang took a shot at Microsoft’s search engine.

"There’s a reason why no one is using Bing today," he said. "I’m sorry Microsoft, it’s true."

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