By Lorena Jordan
If the Democratic Party planned on a southern setting bringing hospitality to the debate table Tuesday night, they were wrong.
During the final debate before the critical primaries in South Carolina and Super Tuesday, the top seven democratic candidates spoke inside Charleston’s Gaillard Center on an array of issues, including racial injustices, healthcare, and unifying to defeat Donald Trump in November.
Returning to the debate stage after a performance panned by most critics last week, Michael Bloomberg was more subdued and informative on the issues, with the former New York City Mayor choosing humor to handle his toughest moments.
“Look, not every ruling works everywhere, otherwise you’d have a naked cowboy in every city,” he replied when asked if a nationwide ban on large soda was a possibility during his Presidency.
Despite the occasional light-hearted quips, Tuesday’s debate was nothing short of contentious, with each candidate taking turns at each other when allowed. Within the first moments of the debate, Bloomberg accused Russia of wanting to aid Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign, and, therefore, influence his time in office.
“That’s absurd, and I, unlike Mike, am not a friend of China’s President Xi” was Sanders’ reply.
Race and racial injustices dominated most of the debate with Tom Steyer, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg all mentioning at one point how today’s dominant issues can be traced to generations of inequality and opportunity because of race.
“We can’t pretend our nation’s issues are race neutral,” exclaimed Warren, with Steyer adding that “every current policy in the United States has a subtext of race.”
After invoking the memory of Charleston’s Mother Emmanuel tragedy, Vice President Biden was asked why he would be the best candidate to help African American voters overcome equality.
“I have spent my entire career giving to and supporting the African American community’s betterment with nationwide policies,” was the former Vice President’s reply.
Other issues covered during the latest debate included education, gun control, national security and health care, further highlighting the policy differences of each candidate. Regarding education, Mayor Pete Buttigieg explained that the critical first step in solving educational gaps nationwide is to provide even more support to teachers, one of which is his husband; for Elizabeth Warren, the best way is to appoint a Secretary of Education who has a distinguished career as an educator.
The future of the American healthcare system also became a prominent talking point with most candidates taking turns asking just how much Sanders’ “healthcare for all" would cost compared to studies Sanders presented explaining the program's total savings.
“Every study we have seen, proves ‘healthcare for all’ will save more than it cost,” Sanders stated during the debate.
Despite the debate’s divisive tone, the candidates were united on the mission to defeat President Trump and were hopeful for the party’s future. All expressed this in various ways during their final statements. Based on South Carolina’s “while I breathe I hope” motto, all candidates expressed mottos used by them that guides their lives. All wished for the party’s unity and expressed their desire in being chosen as the nominee to bring democratic control to the White House.