Amid typical debate topics: the economy, education, housing, rural healthcare and national security, Tuesday’s breaking news of health officials warning Americans to plan for the spread of the Coronavirus in the U.S. gave seven of the eight remaining Democratic candidates the opportunity to show how they would lead during the growing international crisis and also the chance to attack what many of them called the President’s lack of leadership on the issue.
“What we have to do is make sure we have treatment for those Americans and that they are in a quarantine situation,” Klobuchar said answered when asked if she would close borders to infected Americans. “We don’t want to expose people, but we want to give them help.” She also agreed with Bloomberg that President Trump did not prepare for a situation like this when dealing with the budget.
“He tried to cut back on the CDC. He tried to cut back on the international organization that would coordinate with the rest of the world. He hasn’t yet addressed the nation on this topic,” Klobuchar said.
Biden used the opportunity to double down on his record, in hopes that voters will see him as the most experienced and vetted candidate, revisiting his role in combating the Ebola outbreak.
“I was a part in making sure that pandemic did not get to the United States.”
And Bernie Sanders said be whether the issue is climate change or an infectious disease like the Coronavirus, the solution would require international cooperation.
According to an NPR report, there are now more Coronavirus cases reported outside China than inside.
Connecting with Black Voters
Other key takeaways from Tuesday’s debate illustrate each candidates need to connect with South Carolina voters on the issues they care about. The state’s primary on Saturday is the first nominating contest in the South, testing each candidates messaging with a more diverse electorate. Within the Democratic Party in the state, 61% are African-American voters. Tuesday, candidates not only tried to differentiate themselves from each other, but also draw a connection between their experience and proposed policies to concerns of this large voting bloc.
What Was Missing? The Environmental Conversation
One topic that cuts across racial lines, impacts almost every region of the state and was missing from Tuesday’ debate was environmental issues. Billionaire Tom Steyer twice attempted to squeeze the issue into time-limited and heated conversations; first when explaining why he decided to run for president and second when talking about the biggest threat to the country.
“The biggest threat to America, right now, in terms of our safety of our citizens is climate and it’s time for us to deal with it badly. Every single foreign policy issue is about American leadership and coalition,” Steyer said.
The lack of attention to environmental issues was also notice on social media. U.S Representative Joe Cunningham, D- Charleston, tweeted his frustration.
Moderators ask about a ban on sugary drinks but not about the environment or climate change when we are sitting at sea level. Come on.
— Joe Cunningham (@JoeCunninghamSC) February 26, 2020
Tuesday’s debate was the last televised chance, before Saturday’s primary for candidates to tell South Carolina voters how they plan t o positively impact their lives and why voters should choose them as the party’s nominee for president.
Following South Carolina’s primary, on March 3, states and one territory will vote in what’s known as Super Tuesday. According to CBS News, the next debate is scheduled for March 15 in Phoenix, Arizona. The 12th and final debate of the cycle will be held in April.