US Democrats lock horns over war, gen­der in Iowa de­bate

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

L-R: Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls Tom Steyer, El­iz­a­beth War­ren, Joe Bi­den, Bernie Sanders, Pete But­tigieg and Amy Klobuchar in the sev­enth Demo­cratic pri­mary de­bate of the 2020 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign sea­son co-hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Reg­is­ter at the Drake Univer­sity cam­pus in Des Moines, Iowa on Wed­nes­day

Des Moines, US - Left­ist Bernie Sanders at­tacked fron­trun­ner Joe Bi­den on for­eign pol­icy on Tues­day but found him­self fight­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ism in the fi­nal pres­i­den­tial de­bate be­fore Democrats be­gin choos­ing who chal­lenges in­cum­bent Don­ald Trump in Novem­ber’s elec­tion.

With no can­di­date yet to carve out a clear lead less than three weeks to go be­fore the first votes in the nom­i­na­tions bat­tle, the stakes were high for the six pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls on stage in Iowa.

The largely civilised show­down de­fied ear­lier ex­pec­ta­tions of fire­works, with ten­sions largely held in check dur­ing the two-hour de­bate.

But a rift be­tween Sanders and fel­low Sen­a­tor El­iz­a­beth War­ren ap­peared to widen af­ter­wards when War­ren de­clined to shake hands with her long-time friend and fel­low pro­gres­sive.

The can­di­dates tan­gled over ev­ery­thing from troop de­ploy­ments and for­eign pol­icy to health­care, in­ter­na­tional trade, cli­mate change and a woman’s chance of win­ning the White House.

Sanders (78) as­sailed for­mer vice pres­i­dent Bi­den (77) over his vote in sup­port of the 2003 Iraq war as the mod­ern-day ten­sions in the Mid­dle East dom­i­nated the open­ing ex­changes.

With Washington’s con­flict with Iran as the back­drop, non­in­ter­ven­tion­ist Sanders drew a sharp con­trast, say­ing that while he op­posed an Iraq war that was ‘based on lies’, for­mer vice pres­i­dent Bi­den trum­peted the ef­fort.

“I thought they were ly­ing,” Sanders said of the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for war in 2002. “I didn’t be­lieve them for a mo­ment. Joe saw it dif­fer­ently.”

Bi­den said he had long ac­knowl­edged the war was ‘a mis­take’ but re­frained from spar­ring with Sanders over Iraq.

In­stead, Bi­den ap­pealed for unity in pre­vent­ing Trump from win­ning a sec­ond term.

“The Amer­i­can char­ac­ter is on the bal­lot,” Bi­den said. “Not what Don­ald Trump is spew­ing out - the hate, the xeno­pho­bia, the racism. That’s not what we are as a na­tion.”

Each can­di­date is des­per­ate for a break­out mo­ment that could give them the vi­tal mo­men­tum head­ing into the Iowa cau­cases on Fe­bru­ary 3 which be­gins the pres­i­den­tial pri­mary sea­son.

The four can­di­dates in the top tier - Bi­den, Sanders, War­ren and for­mer South Bend, In­di­ana mayor Pete But­tigieg - are bunched to­gether in polling. Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar and bil­lion­aire ac­tivist Tom Steyer rounded out the de­bate par­tic­i­pants in Iowa’s cap­i­tal Des Moines.

For months, Sanders and War­ren have bat­tled peace­fully for the right to wave the cam­paign’s pro­gres­sive flag. But their non-ag­gres­sion pact un­rav­elled in re­cent days, with War­ren en­dors­ing a re­port that Sanders pri­vately told her he be­lieved a woman could not de­feat Trump.

“I didn’t say it,” Sanders in­sisted at the de­bate, stress­ing it was ab­surd for any­one to think a woman could not win the White House.


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