• Everyone went after Sen. Bernie Sanders at Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, as expected, but the senator from Vermont delivered forceful defenses of his positions.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts again attacked former Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City over comments he is said to have made to women and over his company’s use of nondisclosure agreements.
  • Candidates were asked to explain how they would handle the coronavirus outbreak, the most pressing health issue facing the international community.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With the heat turned up on the Democratic presidential primary, the seven candidates on Tuesday night’s debate stage came out swinging.

The debate featured Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; former Mayors Mike Bloomberg of New York City and Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; the investor Tom Steyer; and former Vice President Joe Biden, who has the most to lose heading into Saturday’s primary in South Carolina.

It was, for the most part, a confusing melee, with candidates frequently talking over one another and revisiting battles from past debates. But Tuesday night’s debate also featured timely questions about the coronavirus threat and a rematch of Warren versus Bloomberg.

Here are some of the top moments.

Everyone went after Bernie Sanders

The debate opened, as expected, with all the candidates coming after the frontrunner, Sanders. One by one, they took turns lobbing criticism at the senator over his healthcare stance, his electability, and ability to effectively govern.

Sanders seemed prepared, and he delivered a forceful defense of his “Medicare for All” plan after numerous candidates attacked it.

While Warren acknowledged similarities between herself and Sanders, she bluntly said she “would make a better president than Bernie.”

“Progressives have got one shot, and we need to spend it with a leader who’s going to get something done,” she said.

“If you think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump,” Buttigieg chimed in, before pointedly saying most Americans “just want to be able to turn on the TV, see their president, and actually feel their blood pressure go down a little bit, instead of up through the roof.”

Bloomberg told Sanders that Russian President Vladimir Putin “thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States — and that’s why Russia is helping you get elected, so you’ll lose to him.” A Washington Post report last week indicated that Sanders’ campaign had been briefed on Russian interference in the 2020 election.

The novel coronavirus, one of the most pressing issues, is finally addressed — and Trump responds in real time on Twitter

As the Trump administration drew criticism from Congress and health officials over its response to the threat of the novel coronavirus, the 2020 Democrats were asked how they would handle the situation. Biden cited the Obama administration’s work preventing Ebola from spreading to the United States in 2014.

“I would be on the phone with China and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country, you have to be open, you have to be clear,” he said.

Asked whether she would close America’s borders to citizens who were exposed to the coronavirus, Klobuchar said: “What we have to do is make sure we have treatment for those Americans, and they are in a quarantined situation. We don’t want to expose people, but we want to give them help.”

The senator from Minnesota also listed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, Cdc.gov, saying she would rather give it out than plug her campaign site. “This is so serious,” she said.

Bloomberg accused the Trump administration of failing to prepare for a scenario like the one the US faces with the coronavirus, saying President Donald Trump had pushed out officials who could have dealt with the outbreak.

Trump responded to these accusations on Twitter in real time, insisting the “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”

Sanders explains his position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Earlier this week, Sanders’ criticism of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee drew a rebuke from the organization.

As one of two Jewish candidates on the debate stage, Sanders was asked on Tuesday night whether the US Embassy in Israel should be moved back to Tel Aviv after the Trump administration made the controversial choice to shift it to Jerusalem.

—CBS News (@CBSNews) February 26, 2020

“The answer is it’s something we should take into consideration,” Sanders said.

“I am very proud of being Jewish — I actually lived in Israel for some months,” Sanders added. “But what I happen to believe is that right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu” — the Israeli prime minister — “you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country.”

Sanders said that he supported “protecting the security and independence in Israel” but that “you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

Bloomberg, the other Jewish candidate on the stage, supported brokering a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Bloomberg and Buttigieg spar on race

—CBS News (@CBSNews) February 26, 2020

Buttigieg pointed out an uncomfortable truth: As the election calendar approached the first Democratic primary with a significant share of black voters, only white candidates remained on the debate stage.

When Bloomberg’s record on stop-and-frisk policing came up, Buttigieg did not hesitate to answer affirmatively that Bloomberg’s policy of stop-and-frisk was racist.

“Yes, in effect, it was, because it was about profiling people based on their race,” he said.

Warren versus Bloomberg, Part II

Any viewers anticipating a rematch between Warren and Bloomberg were not disappointed.

Warren had a strong showing during the February 19 debate, in which she relentlessly criticized Bloomberg for his company’s use of nondisclosure agreements.

She hit him on the issue again Tuesday night, but that wasn’t all she had in store for Bloomberg.

—CBS News (@CBSNews) February 26, 2020

Warren cited a Washington Post investigation into claims that Bloomberg made degrading comments to female employees and fostered a hostile work environment at his namesake company.

In one instance, Bloomberg was accused of telling a pregnant female employee to “kill it,” The Post reported.

Bloomberg denied making the statement, but Warren used that comment to attack him Tuesday night. After beginning with a well-trod story of how she was let go from a teaching job after becoming pregnant, Warren added a new line.

“At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘Kill it,’ the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees,” Warren said.

Warren repeatedly trained her fire on Bloomberg during the debate, also criticizing Bloomberg’s backing of Republican senate candidates like Scott Brown, Warren’s opponent in her 2012 Senate race in Massachusetts.

“The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him,” Warren said.

Tom Steyer reminded voters he’s there, too

—CBS News (@CBSNews) February 26, 2020

Steyer was absent from the debate stage last week in Nevada but has polled as high as third place in South Carolina, behind Biden and Sanders.

And he made his presence to South Carolina voters known by finding a couple of key moments to break through on Tuesday night. Notably, he called for reparations for slavery and a “formal commission on race.”

“Every single policy in the United States has a gigantic subtext of race,” he said. “We’re talking about education, we’re talking about criminal justice, we’re talking about housing, we’re talking about loans.”

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