Five Democratic candidates took the stage for the first Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night.
CNN hosted the first sanctioned Democratic debate. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be standing center stage, flanked by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia), and former Rhode Island Gov. and US Sen. Lincoln Chafee.
Clinton enetered the debate as the clear front-runner, with 46% of Democratic voters supporting her, according to the Huffington Post polling average.
But since launching her candidacy earlier this year, her numbers have dropped significantly, as many Democratic primary voters have flocked to Sanders. The self-described Democratic socialist is leading Clinton in at least one key early-nominating state and is closing in on Clinton in another.
Check out the highlights of the debate from our live blog below:
10:55 p.m.– Asked about which enemies they were most proud of, here’s how the candidates responded:
Chafee: “The coal lobby.”
O’Malley: “The National Rifle Association”
Clinton: “The NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians, and probably the Republicans.”
Sanders: Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry.
Webb, referencing the soldier he killed in the Vietnam War: “I’d have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around to talk to.”
10:44 p.m. – Sanders said he’d vote to support recreational marijuana if he lived in Nevada, where it will be on the ballot next year. He framed his support in terms of prison reform and economic equality.
“We have a system where we let CEOs on wall street walk away, yet we are getting young people in jail for smoking marijuana.”
Clinton said that she would not vote for legalizing recreational marijuana, though she said that she supports medical marijuana and sentencing reform for non-violent drug offenses.
10:39 p.m. – Clinton addressed political dynasties and her status as the wife of a former president, saying that she was not campaigning simply because her husband was president.
“I would not ask anyone to vote for me because of my last name,” Clinton said.
“I think I can take the fight to the Republicans.”
10:28 pm. – Asked about whether whistleblower Edward Snowden was a hero or a traitor, Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley all said that Snowden should be punished for leaking news of the NSA’s covert telephone metadata surveillance program.
“I don’t think he should be brought home without losing facing the music,” Clinton said, citing Snowden’s exile in Russia.
Bernie: "Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people…he did break the law, and there should be a penalty.."
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) October 14, 2015
"He broke the laws of the US…he could've been a whistleblower…[but] he stole very important information." Hillary Clinton on #Snowden
— Elena Schneider (@ec_schneider) October 14, 2015
Chafee said that Snowden should not be punished, and should be brought home.
10:21 p.m. – Cooper asked Sanders if he would shut down the NSA’s telephone metadata surveillance program.
“I would, of course,” Sanders said.
The Vermont senator said that he want to make sure that both corporations and government don’t impinge on the rights of US citizens when they’re engaged in surveillance, a possible reference to the storage of metadata by large telephone companies.
10:10 p.m. – Clinton defended her position on the Keystone XL pipeline, which she recently announced that she opposed despite earlier statements that appeared to show that she favored it.
“Everybody on this stage has changed a position or two,” Clinton said.
“I never took a position on Keystone until I took a position on Keystone,” she added.
9:51 p.m. – CNN anchor Don Lemon brought in a question from Facebook: “Do black lives matter? Or do all lives matter?”
Sanders said “black lives matter,” and brought up the importance of fighting issues like mass incarceration and institutional racism directly.
9:49 p.m. – Following the commercial break, Cooper asked Clinton about the email scandal that has been plaguing her campaign.
“This committee is basically the arm of the Republican National Committee,” Clinton said “It is a partisan vehicle … to drive down my poll numbers. And that is what they have attempted to do. I am still standing.”
Sanders chimed in to defend Clinton, saying the media coverage of the email scandal is a distraction from substantial issues.
“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders said. “The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or oligarchy based on Citizens United. Enough of the damn emails!”
“Thank you, Bernie!” Clinton said.
O’Malley also pleaded to move to a discussion about more substantial issues.
“We need to get wages to go up, we need to make college affordable,” O’Malley said.
Donald Trump isn’t convinced.
The hardest thing Clinton has to do is defend her bad decision making including Iraq vote, e-mails etc.
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2015
9:37 p.m. – After Webb touted his military experience serving in the US Marines during the Vietnam War, Cooper asked Sanders to defend why he can be commander-in-chief, given that he filed for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War to avoid being drafted.
“When I was a young man, I strongly opposed the war in Vietnam,” Sanders said. “Not the brave men like Jim who fought in that war, but the policy which got us involved in that war. That was my view then.”
9:35 p.m. – After O’Malley said that Clinton was overly militaristic, Clinton quipped that she enjoyed O’Malley’s support for her 2008 presidential bid.
“I was very pleased when Gov. O’Malley endorsed me in 2008 and I enjoyed his strong support in that campaign,” Clinton said.
9:24 p.m. – The conversation shifted to foreign policy, and Cooper asks former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about how she’d handle the crisis in Syria.
“I think it’s important that the United States make it very clear to Putin that he can’t be in Syria creating chaos,” Clinton said.
Sanders touts his record as the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
“I want to make sure the United States does not get involved in another quagmire like the war in Iraq, the worst decision in American history,” Sanders said. “We should be putting together a coalition of Arab countries to be leading the fight.”
9:20 p.m. – Jim Webb was asked by Cooper to defend his record as an advocate for gun rights. Webb said that the United States should have stronger background checks, but pivoted to a point about respecting the right of individuals to protect their family from violence.
“There are people who have bodyguards. The average American doesn’t have that, and should be able to defend their family,” Webb said.
Chafee, who has an “F” rating from the NRA, pleaded to pro-gun rights leaders to try to find common ground.
9:16 p.m. – Cooper pressed Sanders about his mixed record on gun control. After Sanders defended his opposition to several gun control measures by pointing out his less-than-stellar rating from the National Rifle Association, Cooper asked Clinton if she thought Sanders’ record on gun control was sufficient.
“No. Senator Sanders voted five times against the Brady Bill,” Clinton said. “It wasn’t complicated to me.”
9:10 p.m. – Citing recent unrest in Baltimore over the death of an unarmed black man while in police custody, Cooper questioned O’Malley on his record on crime when he was mayor of Baltimore.
“Arrests peaked in 2003, Anderson, but they declined every year after that,” O’Malley said. “Together as a city, we saved a lot of lives.”
9:07 p.m. – Cooper asked Clinton right off the bat about her shifting position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-national trade deal that Clinton recently announced that she opposes, despite saying that she supported earlier.
“Will you say anything to get elected?” Cooper said.
“I do absorb new information,” Clinton said. “I did say three years ago that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated next week. And in looking at it, it didn’t meet my standards.”
“I am a progressive. But a progressive who likes to get things done,” Clinton said.
9:03 p.m. – Clinton ended her two minute introduction with a reference to her role as potentially the first female president.
“Fathers will be able to say to their daughters, ‘you too will be able to become president,'” Clinton said as the audience cheered.
8:56 p.m. – In his introduction, Sanders highlighted the racial justice piece of his platform, which has become an issue following his controversial response to Black Lives Matter activists who protested one of his events earlier this year.
“African-American youth unemployment is 51%,” Sanders said. “Hispanic youth unemployment is 36%.”
Sanders said the United States has more people in jail than any other country, and should spend that money on education and improving the lives of young people.
8:50 p.m. Just over a minute into the official debate, Chafee took a shot at Clinton. Touting his record as an executive, Chafee subtly jabbed at Clinton’s history of scandals.
“I’m very proud that over my almost 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals,” Chafee said.
“I have high ethical standards.”