The initial night of the two-day Democratic debate schedule presented ten 2020 hopefuls a national platform to get some name recognition and an opportunity to tell the country why they should take on President Trump. With the cameras on and the nation watching, some candidates rose to the opportunity and used the debate to springboard their campaigns while others blundered.
The debates on Wednesday night featured a lesser-known pool of candidates which was headlined by Senator Elizabeth Warren. She was joined by Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, former congressman John Delaney, and Washington state Governor Jay Inslee.
Klobuchar, Gabbard, and Castro emerged as winners of the debate, USA Today reports, as they offered voters clear, concise answers on policy positions and gave stinging rebuttals to their colleagues.
One of those rebuttals featured Gabbard going after Ryan, who blamed the wrong terror group for the September 11th attacks, USA Today reports:
The Ohio lawmaker incorrectly stated that the Taliban attacked the United States on Sept. 11. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is a veteran, quickly corrected him.
“When we weren’t in there, they started flying planes into our buildings,” Ryan said of having troops in Afghanistan.
“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11,” Rep. Gabbard shot back. “Al-Qaeda did.”
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The moment was a low point for Ryan in a candidacy that was already struggling to gain attention and momentum.
The report added later:
The Hawaii representative exceeded expectations. Her answers were clear, concise and she had palpable stage presence.
She did not shy away from addressing her past stance opposing same-sex marriage.
“There is no one in our government at any level who has the right to tell any American who they should be allowed to love or who they should be allowed to marry,” she said, pointing to how some Americans could also “relate to the fact that I grew up in a socially conservative home” and “held views when I was very young that I no longer hold today.”
Gabbard also had a moment when talking about foreign policy, a topic that has been controversial for the congresswoman given her views on Syrian leader Bashar al Assad.
During a heated exchanged with Ryan, Gabbard pointed out that the Taliban did not attack the World Trade Center on 9/11.
“That’s why I and other people joined the military,” she continued, “to go after Al Qaeda. Not the Taliban.”
Ryan’s campaign released a statement just after midnight clarifying the candidate’s belief:
Statement from Ryan Campaign on Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/3vuV62kl1S
— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) June 27, 2019