WESTERVILLE, Ohio ― Public polls are mixed about whether Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is now the leading candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary field. But the behavior of the other candidates on the stage at the fourth Democratic debate on Tuesday night indicated she is.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas all took shots at Warren in the first hour of the debate at Otterbein University in this suburb of Columbus.
Buttigieg and Klobuchar both attacked Warren for her support of a “Medicare for All” plan, arguing she was lying to voters about whether middle-class taxes would go up.
“Your signature is to have a plan for everything, except this,” Buttigieg said. “No plan has been laid out to explain how a multitrillion-dollar hole in this Medicare for All plan that Sen. Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in.”
Warren responded by repeating her standard answer when challenged on this point and pledging she wouldn’t support a plan that raised overall costs on middle-class families. She also attacked Buttigieg’s health care plan as insufficient to cover all Americans.
“Let’s be clear, whenever someone hears the term ‘Medicare for all who want it,’ understand what that really means: It’s Medicare for all who can afford it,” she responded. “Medicare for All is the gold standard. It’s the way we get health care coverage for every single American.”
Klobuchar made perhaps the most sustained attack on Warren, trying to challenge her on specific issues and on the very essence of her candidacy.
“The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done,” Klobuchar said.
O’Rourke made perhaps the most unexpected attack on Warren, arguing she hasn’t made it clear if her plans would increase taxes on the middle class and “is more focused on being punitive or pitting one part of the country against the other instead of lifting people up.” (Warren has proposed a 2% wealth tax on the richest Americans.)
“I’m really shocked that anyone thinks I’m punitive. I don’t have a beef with billionaires,” Warren responded, again repeating she wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-class families.