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'Get rid of Trump': Democrats united on some things - but divided on others - as Biden leads debate
The former US vice president clashed with frontrunners Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in last night’s debate.

ABC News / YouTube

FORMER US VICE President Joe Biden put in a combative display last night, as he clashed with rivals in the third Democratic debate of the 2020 White House race.

Chief among them were Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and the three frontrunners all had their say on health care reform, climate change and the current occupier of the White House, President Donald Trump.

The 76-year-old Biden managed to snatch most of the speaking time as the other nine candidates on stage fought to put their case forward.

On healthcare, the former vice president accused Sanders and Warren of pushing pipe dreams without a plan to fund them.

election-2020-debate David J Phillip / PA Images Sanders (left) clashed with Biden in the debate. David J Phillip / PA Images / PA Images

“I lay out how I can pay for it, how I can get it done, and why it’s better,” the former vice president said of his health plan, which builds on the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.

Warren, a rising star in the race, and Sanders, a liberal fixture from the 2016 campaign, each put up a spirited defense.

“I know what’s broken, I know how to fix it and I’m going to lead the fight to get it done,” promised Warren, who has impressed voters with her policy platforms.

On health care reform she vowed “those at the very top” would bear the cost, while Sanders pledged to make sure “every American has health care as a human right”.

Their three-way battle kicked off an almost three-hour showdown, as the rival Democrats highlighted differences on immigration, trade tariffs and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

election-2020-debate David J Phillip / PA Images Elizabeth Warren (left) and Kamala Harris. David J Phillip / PA Images / PA Images

Biden also defended Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, who came in for criticism from the some candidates for deporting immigrants and not going far enough on health care reform.

“I stand with Barack Obama all eight years, good bad and indifferent,” Biden said.

But all candidates stood united on one key point: ousting Trump – who several candidates attacked as racist – from the White House.

“There’s enormous, enormous opportunities – once we get rid of Donald Trump,” Biden said.

Texas hopeful Beto O’Rourke called Trump a white supremacist while California senator Kamala Harris said Trump’s social media output provided “the ammunition” for recent mass shootings. 

“President Trump, you have spent the last two-and-a-half years full time trying to sow hate and vision among us, and that’s why we’ve gotten nothing done,” Harris said.

‘Go to hell’

While the debate was going on, President Trump gave a speech to Republicans and took digs at his potential rivals in the 2020 presidential election, calling Biden “Sleepy Joe”, Warren “Pocahontas” and Sanders “Crazy Bernie”. 

“Our country will go to hell if any of these people get in,” Trump warned.

All eyes had been on Biden in debate number three, after a number of gaffes and verbal miscues in previous debates raised doubts he could do the top job at the age of 76.

Seeking a breakout moment, low-polling candidate Julian Castro challenged Biden, accusing him of “forgetting what you said just two minutes ago” – drawing boos from the crowd.

election-2020-debate Eric Gay / PA Images The ten hopefuls line up. Eric Gay / PA Images / PA Images

The former vice president avoided any blunders last night in Houston and parried further attacks from Sanders, who accused him of the “big mistake” of voting for the war in Iraq.

Biden maintains a grip on pole position with 26.8% support, despite a recent dip, according to a poll average compiled by RealClearPolitics.

Sanders, 78, is on 17.3% support, narrowly ahead of the 70-year-old Warren at 16.8%.

With reporting from AFP

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