Democratic candidates begin 1st 2020 presidential debate

Traffic moves past Miami's Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center the day before 20 Democratic U.S. presidential candidates begin a two night debate that will be the first debate of the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Miami

Watch the First 2020 Democratic Primary Presidential Debate: LIVE VIDEO

O'Rourke squared off again, this time in one of the tensest exchanges of the night, against fellow Texan and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro on immigration reform-an emotional moment with the recent news of Oscar Alberto Martinez and his almost two-year-old daughter Valiera drowning in the Rio Grande in an attempt to cross into the U.S.

But they also turned their fire on each other, most often targeting Beto O'Rourke.

Two candidates, US Senator Elizabeth Warren of MA and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, raised their hands enthusiastically in support of replacing a private insurance system with a government-run Medicare for All.

The debate over how to handle private health insurance is emerging as a dividing line in the first 2020 Democratic debate.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker hugs US Representative Tim Ryan and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren hugs Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro. She backs a government-sponsored Medicare-for-All approach and criticized those who say it is not politically feasible. "Health care is a basic human right and I will fight for basic human rights".

Senator Bernie Sanders, which has gained support in Congress, would create a government-operated plan that eliminates private insurance.

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De Blasio confronted O'Rourke over his reluctance to phase out private insurance despite it "not working for tens of millions of Americans".

"For all the American citizens who feel you are falling behind and the American dream is not working for you, the immigrants didn't do that to you!"

Castro was the first candidate in the crowded field to put forward a plan back in April and pointed out that he supports decriminalizing border crossings, not just for those seeking asylum in the USA because that is legal and requires a person to be on US soil to do so, but "everybody else" as well. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, stand on stage before the start of the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami.

Castro responded: "I'm not talking about the ones that are seeking asylum, I'm talking about everybody else".

Mr Castro closed with a pledge to the party's increasingly diverse electorate: "On Jan 20, 2021, we'll say "adios" to Donald Trump".

Despite flying to Asia for the G20 summit Wednesday, Trump tuned in from Air Force One and did not miss the chance to knock his would-be opponents via Twitter.

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But shortly after it began, he could not help himself. Pressed to explain his rationale, Booker said as president he would "do the best I can to secure this country".

"The far-left, socialist policies Democrats embraced tonight were akin to a mutual political suicide pact", she said. Kamala Harris; Former Vice President Joe Biden; Vermont Sen. Cory Booker; Minnesota Sen. He was followed by O'Rourke, Warren and Castro.

She also slammed Donald Trump with criticism for withdrawing the United States from the Obama-era nuclear agreement between Iran and other world powers, saying that the move has led to escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Several of the contenders took aim at corporate America, saying it did not pay enough in taxes, repaid government bailouts by shifting jobs overseas and charged too much for its products.

"Perhaps it's fitting that Democrats held their first debate in Miami, Florida, where so many Latinos have fled the ravages of socialism and understand its devastating effect on society in a real and personal way", the Trump campaign said in a statement. Warren replied. "It's doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top".

"Just stopped in Alaska and said hello to our GREAT troops!" he said. Amy Klobuchar, called for universal health care, but also favoured preserving the private insurance market.

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