Published On: Wed, Jan 15th, 2020

Democratic debate: Democratic candidates meet for last debate before Iowa caucuses

The first question of the debate was focused on foreign policy, coming after after tensions with Iran escalated earlier this month. Moderator Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates why they believed they would be the best commander in chief.

Sanders argued that his good judgment was proven when he voted against the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq. Biden, who did vote to authorize the war in Iraq, countered: “It was a mistake, and I acknowledge that.” However, Biden also noted he was chosen as vice president by former President Obama, who had opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning.

Sanders suggested that he, unlike Biden, was not fooled by the Bush administration’s insistence that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

“Joe and I listened to what Dick Cheney and George Bush and Rumsfeld had to say. I thought they were lying,” Sanders said. However, Biden argued that as vice president, he actually had experience in bringing troops home from Iraq.

Sanders also tied the conflict in Iraq to that in Vietnam.

“The two great foreign policy disasters of our lifetimes were the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq. Both of those wars were based on lies,” Sanders said.

Klobuchar argued that the candidates should be focused on ensuring the U.S. did not enter a needless conflict with Iran.

“Donald Trump is taking us pell-mell towards another war,” Klobuchar said.

Meanwhile, Buttigieg brought up his perspective as a veteran and the youngest person on the stage.

“There are people now old enough to enlist who were not alive for some of those debates,” Buttigieg said of wars entered after September 11, 2001. He added that the next president would be confronted with national security challenges different from those of the past, including cyber and climate threats. The next commander-in-chief will need to have a view to the future, as well as to readiness.

Warren tied her anti-corruption message to her answer on why she would be an effective commander-in-chief, arguing that the U.S. was spending too much on defense.

“We have a problem with a revolving door in Washington between the defense industry and the Department of Defense and the Pentagon. That is corruption, pure and simple,” Warren said.

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