Elizabeth Warren pummeled in debate as new front-runner
US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has been surging in polls on the strength of a steady stream of plans, was the central target at a Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday with rivals, including former president Joe Biden, attacking her relentlessly on her progressive plans, chiefly on healthcare.
Warren got the front-runner treatment for the first time in these debates replacing Biden, who had been the key target in the previous rounds because of his lead in polls.
Warren got hammered the most for her healthcare plan — “Medicare for All” — a single-source, state-run healthcare plan that is estimated to cost $30 trillion over 10 years. She has not been clear how she will fund it unlike Senator Bernie Sanders, the plan’s author, who has said he will raise taxes to pay for it.
Senator Amy Klobuchar called Warren’s healthcare plan a “pipe-dream”; Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that plan “divided” the country at a time when it needed to come together; and Biden called it “vague”.
Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke called her plan to tax the wealthy “punitive”, entrepreneur Andrew Yang challenged her plan to break up big tech companies such as Facebook; and Senator Kamala Harris drew her into a back-and-forth over why Twitter should shut down President Donald Trump’s account. And Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard sought to loop Warren into her foreign policy responses.
Senator Warren defended herself and her plans by challenging her rivals to think big. “Look, I understand that this is hard, but I think as Democrats, we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard, not when we dream small and quit before we get started.”
Warren has been rising in polls primarily on account of her plans — she has one for practically everything (her campaign site acknowledges it with a signature line — “Warren has plan for that”) — and is a close second behind Biden. But she has struggled to broaden her appeal beyond her liberal, educated and mainly white voters.
Second-tier candidates like Buttigieg, Klobuchar and O’Rourke are targeting her in the hope of making inroads into the Democratic party’s more moderate voters with an eye on Iowa state, which holds the first contest of the primary season in February, who are currently aligned with Biden.
The former vice-president, who has faced unfounded charges of corruption against him and his son Hunter Biden from President Trump, was missing from most of the heated exchanges, content, it appear, to concede the center-stage and brawling that comes with it, to Warren, the new front-runner.