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Biden vows to put black woman on Supreme Court

by The Associated Press | February 25, 2020 at 9:14 p.m.
From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and businessman Tom Steyer stand on stage before a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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10:05 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is committing to putting the first black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Biden said during Tuesday night's presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that he is "looking forward" to making that a reality.

Biden made the remark during a closing portion in which each candidate was asked about a misconception about themselves, as well as an issue about which he or she is passionate.

Biden is relying on a base of support from black voters, who comprise the majority of voters in Saturday's South Carolina primary.

Biden also noted that he aims to live by a motto of “When you get knocked down, you get up, and everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity.”

9:55 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says he would study the issue of relocating the American Embassy in Israel to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem but wouldn't commit to commanding the change.

The Vermont senator said during Tuesday night's debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that he is "very proud of being Jewish" but also pressed that "you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people."

In 2018, the Trump administration reversed decades of U.S. foreign policy by siding more blatantly with Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the American Embassy there. President Donald Trump also closed Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington and cut funding to Palestinian aid programs.

The other Jewish candidate onstage, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, said, "You can't move the embassy back." Instead, he said, "The answer is to obviously split it up."

Capping off the issue, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said moving the embassy is not a decision for the U.S. to make, adding, “We should let the parties determine the capitals themselves.”

9:45 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says it’s possible to oppose authoritarianism and still acknowledge good things such governments have done.

Sanders has come under criticism for praising former Cuban leader Fidel Castro for creating a “massive literacy program.” At least one House Democrat from Florida, which has a large Cuban population, was critical of the remarks, calling Castro a “murderous tyrant.”

Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg criticized Sanders for the remarks on the debate stage in South Carolina on Tuesday night. Sanders criticized U.S. foreign policy broadly for working with some dictators or authoritarian governments and not others.

9:35 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is reiterating a commitment to releasing his tax returns when they are ready.

The billionaire said during Tuesday night's debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that he is working on readying his returns for release "as fast as we can."

In last week's debate in Las Vegas, Bloomberg said that it takes “a long time” to compile his tax returns because he makes a lot of money and “can’t go to TurboTax.”

Bloomberg runs a financial data and media company. He is worth an estimated $60 billion.

All the other contenders on stage have released their tax returns. The other billionaire on stage, California climate activist Tom Steyer, noted that he had released a decade's worth of tax returns.

Steyer is worth approximately $1.6 billion.

9:30 p.m.

Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg nearly misspoke to say he “bought” new Democratic members of the U.S. House.

Bloomberg was speaking at Tuesday night's debate in South Carolina about how he spent $100 million to help Democratic candidates flip U.S. House seats held by Republicans. He began to say “I bought,” before catching himself and saying “I got them,” noting their elections helped Nancy Pelosi become speaker of the House.

Bloomberg is one of the world’s richest men and has funded numerous candidates and political causes.

President Donald Trump’s campaign spokesman and eldest son were among those on Twitter highlighting the flub.

“Wow!!! He’s admitting he BOUGHT those seats!” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.

9:25 p.m.

Even when he’s not on stage, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is getting his message out.

The billionaire’s campaign is blanketing airwaves nationwide, and Tuesday night’s debate was no exception. Bloomberg ads were featured during the first two commercial breaks of the debate ahead of Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

The Bloomberg ads highlight his experience in the business community and as mayor, and they outline some of his key policy proposals. They also feature reporting that President Donald Trump is wary of Bloomberg’s rise in Democratic polls.

Bloomberg has spent more than $500 million of his own money on his presidential campaign in the last three months.

9:20 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is urging restraint on fully legalizing marijuana, saying that more scientific research is needed.

The former New York City mayor said at Tuesday night's presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that it's "just nonsensical" to push forward to full legalization without more research on the effects of the drug, particularly on young people.

Many Democrats in the field have advocated various levels of loosening drug policies, ranging from decriminalization to legalization. Bloomberg said he backs decriminalization.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he backs that idea, as well as expungement of criminal records.

Just before a commercial break, former Vice President Joe Biden interjected a comment on his work to “set up drug courts.”

9:10 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says he's the presidential candidate best situated to appeal to black voters, citing his commitment to equitable wealth creation and housing opportunities.

Biden said during Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that he would also go after those trying to gentrify neighborhoods traditionally occupied by minority residents.

The debate is the final one ahead of South Carolina's Saturday primary.

On Monday, Biden rolled out a $640 billion national housing policy, which would prevent mortgage servers from foreclosing during loan modification and set up a timely notification system for such changes.

Following up on Biden's comments, California billionaire Tom Steyer said he would work toward trying to "correct injustice" in the loan service industry. He then launched into his common campaign trail theme of arguing his support for a conversation on reparations and the creation of a commission to study race relations in America.

9 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is taking on rival Bernie Sanders for his resistance to ending the Senate procedural rule that requires more than a simple majority to pass most major legislation.

Sanders has stopped short of endorsing an elimination of the Senate rule known as the filibuster, which requires 60 out of 100 senators to approve most major bills. Despite that fact, the Democratic presidential front-runner is pitching an array of sweeping policy changes that are highly likely to fall short in Congress with the filibuster still in place.

“How are we going to lead a revolution if you can’t support a rules change?” Buttigieg challenged Sanders.

The two White House hopefuls are squaring off Tuesday night at a high-stakes primary debate in Charleston ahead of South Carolina’s Saturday primary.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is in favor of eliminating the filibuster should Democrats take back Senate control and be in position to make the change.

8:55 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is yet again going after Bernie Sanders for what he characterized as softness toward the gun manufacturing industry.

Biden said at the Democratic presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, on Tuesday night that Sanders' position on gun makers "has caused carnage on our streets."

In response, Sanders said he has "cast thousands of votes, including bad votes. That was a bad vote." The issue came up after an introductory question that included mention of the 2015 massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church - just steps from the debate venue - in which nine black Bible study participants were slain during a racist shooting.

Sanders, in 2005, supported a proposal backed by the National Rifle Association granting gun manufacturers broad legal protections. He has repeatedly been put on the defensive during the 2020 campaign on his perceived support for the gun manufacturing industry.

In a turn on the issue, Pete Buttigieg also took on Sanders, saying his position on guns wasn't an old one but “is a current bad position that Bernie Sanders holds.”

8:45 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg says the cost of Bernie Sanders’ health care plan “adds up to four more years of Donald Trump.”

He also says it would make California Republican Kevin McCarthy the speaker of the House and stop Democrats from winning back control of the U.S. Senate.

At Tuesday night's debate, Buttigieg echoed Democrats who have warned that a Sanders nomination would harm candidates running in down-ticket races. Buttigieg says Democratic candidates who flipped House seats in 2018 don’t want to defend Sanders’ policies on “Medicare for All.”

He said, “The time has come for us to stop acting like the presidency is the only office that matters.”

8:40 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says his government-based “Medicare for All” health care plan won't cost as much as many estimate and is the best possible option for the country.

The Vermont senator said during Tuesday night's debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that it's best to guarantee health care for everyone, not rely on a variety of separate insurance plans.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said that more was needed in the health care debate than "broken promises that sound good on bumper stickers." The rest of the field lobbed criticism at Sanders on Tuesday's stage as expected, given his elevated profile following wins in earlier contests.

California billionaire Tom Steyer said that Sanders' plan “shows a huge risk for the Democratic Party.”

8:35 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is slamming rival Mike Bloomberg over a news report that he told a female employee to “kill it” when she became pregnant. The former New York City mayor denies it.

Invoking her own personal story of discrimination on the job after she became pregnant, Warren escalated her push to get Bloomberg to release all former employees from nondisclosure agreements they signed while working at his media company. The two Democratic presidential hopefuls are tangling on Tuesday night at a pivotal debate in South Carolina, which holds its primary on Saturday.

Bloomberg is denying that he made the incendiary remark to a former female employee: “Never said it, period."

He is also apologizing for off-color remarks he is reported to have made to female employees, but he has declined to address Warren’s call that he issue a more blanket release from nondisclosure agreements than the three women he has recently released.

8:30 p.m.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg says he has been preparing for the role of president since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Responding to criticism Tuesday from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren that he is the “riskiest” candidate in the Democratic presidential field, Bloomberg says he’s the choice “that makes the most sense.”

He says: “I have the experience, I have the resources, and I have the record.”

Bloomberg adds that he is best positioned to run the country because he ran the city of New York.

He says: “I have been training for this job since I stepped on the pile that was still smoldering on 9/11."

8:15 p.m.

Elizabeth Warren is going straight at fellow progressive Bernie Sanders as the latest Democratic presidential debate begins.

Warren said Tuesday that she would be a better president than Sanders because she’ll be able to get more progressive policies passed. She said she’s “dug in” when it comes to fighting big banks and actually explaining how she’d enact universal health care.

Warren said: “Progressives have got one shot, and we need to spend it with a leader who is going to get something done."

Warren and Sanders share many of the same policy goals. But Sanders has performed far better in the early presidential nominating contests.

Her comments mark some of the sharpest contrasts she’s drawn with him so far. Sanders' opponents have argued that he's been ineffective during his three decades in Congress.

8 p.m.

The Democratic presidential debate is kicking off in South Carolina ahead of the state’s weekend primary.

Seven candidates are participating in Tuesday night’s high-stakes debate in Charleston. It could be the White House hopefuls’ final prime-time opportunity to change the direction of the 2020 nomination fight, with Bernie Sanders as the party’s presidential front-runner.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was the focus of last week’s debate for his highly anticipated debut, but after a bad performance froze his momentum, the knives are out for the 78-year-old Vermont senator.

Sanders' handling of the pressure could be crucial in determining whether he stays at the top of the Democratic pack.

Tuesday's forum comes just four days before South Carolina's first-in-the-South primary and one week before more than a dozen states vote on Super Tuesday.


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Bernie Sanders' Democratic rivals prepared to unleash a new wave of attacks against the party's presidential front-runner in a high-stakes debate Tuesday night, perhaps their final prime-time opportunity to change the direction of the 2020 nomination fight.

Almost all of the six other candidates set to debate in South Carolina went after Sanders in the hours leading up to the 8 p.m. EST affair.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, highlighted Sanders' call for a government-financed health care system as an example of his “polarization.” Former Vice President Joe Biden accused Sanders of trying to undermine President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection. And former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg assailed Sanders' record on gun control.

Five Bloomberg supporters, all current or former black elected officials, blasted Sanders’ record on gun control as well as other priorities for the black community on Tuesday.

“Too often, Bernie Sanders has been on the wrong side of history, missing in action or unable to make progress on virtually every issue for black voters,” New York Rep. Gregory Meeks told reporters, predicting that viewers would “see a 180-degree shift tonight” from Bloomberg after his lackluster showing in last week’s Democratic debate.

The new wave of infighting came as Democrats were set to meet for the party's 10th — and perhaps most consequential — debate of the 2020 primary season. Bloomberg was the focus last week for his highly anticipated debut, but after a bad performance that froze his momentum, the knives are out for the 78-year-old Vermont senator.

The night marks a major moment in Sanders' political career. After spending decades as an outside agitator accustomed to attacking the party establishment, he's suddenly the one on defense as the Democratic establishment fears he could build an insurmountable delegate lead as soon as next week.

Only Elizabeth Warren has resisted attacking Sanders, her ideological ally. The Massachusetts senator has instead trained her focus on Bloomberg, whom she savaged last week on the debate stage and on the campaign trail leading up to Tuesday's meeting.

Also a factor: Billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who has borrowed heavily from his personal fortune to fuel a strong push in South Carolina, where he's threatening to peel away some of Biden's support with state's black voters. Rivals Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are also fighting to win over moderates while decrying Sanders' chief policy priorities.

Sanders' handling of the pressure could be crucial in determining whether he stays at the top of the Democratic pack. During a town hall Monday night televised on CNN, Sanders said he expected the attacks. But he still seemed to be adjusting to his new status.

“It is a little funny to find myself as the so-called front-runner,” he said.

Tuesday's forum comes just four days before South Carolina's first-in-the-South primary and one week before more than a dozen states vote on Super Tuesday.

Biden is looking to make a big impression in South Carolina, where he was long viewed as the unquestioned front-runner because of his support from black voters.

Campaigning in the state the day before the debate, he predicted he would win “by plenty” on Saturday

Having finished on top in three consecutive primary contests — including a tie in Iowa — Sanders is eyeing a knockout blow, however. He has shifted new staff into the state from Nevada, expanded his South Carolina advertising and added events to his schedule.

Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver said there was an “air of desperation” to the fresh attacks on his candidate.

“You’ve got candidates, you’ve got super PACs, all piling on to stop Bernie Sanders,” Weaver said. "They know he has the momentum in the race."

Sanders may benefit most from the sheer number of candidates still in the race. They are still fighting among themselves -- and splitting up the anti-Sanders vote -- to emerge as the strongest alternative to him.

Heading into the debate, there was no sign that any of those candidates was close to getting out.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who finished in a distant fifth or sixth place in Nevada over the weekend, announced plans to launch a $4.2 million ad buy across several Super Tuesday states.

A pro-Warren super PAC was also adding television advertising in seven Super Tuesday states, including Alabama, California, Minnesota and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Sanders' critics in both parties unleashed a flood of new attacks focused largely on his long record in elected office and unique perspective on some controversial issues.

Critics in both parties jumped on comments Sanders made in a CBS News “60 Minutes” segment aired Sunday in which he praised the late Cuban ruler Fidel Castro for establishing what Sanders called a “massive literacy program” when he took power.

Sanders stood by his comments during the CNN town hall, saying he'd criticized “authoritarian regimes all over the world," including Cuba, Nicaragua and Saudi Arabia, But he added that, after Castro took power in 1959, “the first thing he did” was initiate a literacy program.

“I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing,” Sanders said. “That is a fact. End of discussion.”

Sanders was also in a dispute with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an establishment group that advocates for strong U.S.-Israel relations. Sanders said he would skip the group's conference because he was concerned about the event giving airtime to “leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights."

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, called that characterization “offensive" and “irresponsible."

Check back for updates and read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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