MIAMI, Fla. (CBSNewYork) – Campaign 2020 began in earnest on Wednesday as the first ten of the Democrats seeking to be the one to take on President Trump took to the debate stage in an intense attempt to impress voters.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker were in the mix, doing their best to steal the spotlight from the top tier candidates.
In one corner of the Democratic boxing ring Wednesday was the far-far left – and tipping the polls with maybe one percent of support – was their champion Bill de Blasio.
Desperate to use the first democratic presidential debate as a stepping stone to greater national respectability, he did it by again tacking far left of the political center.
“I want to make it clear, this is supposed to be the party of working people. Yes, we’re supposed to be for a 70-percent tax rate on the wealthy. Yes, we’re supposed to be for free college,” the mayor declared from the wings of the stage.
The best positions went to the most popular candidates however, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke in the center.
Sen. Booker was slotted next to Warren.
One of the hottest topics on the night was government health care, Medicare-for-all, and the highly controversial question of whether people should be forced to give up their private insurance.
O’Rourke said he would not replace private insurance, saying “choice is fundamental.”
Mayor de Blasio vehemently interrupted, arguing “private insurance is not working for tens of millions of Americans… How do you defend a system that’s not working?”
Sen. Booker wanted a piece of that issue as well.
“Many in my community have a lower life expectancy because of poor health care… The best way to get there is Medicare-for-all,” Booker said.
The debate was a big test for both Tri-state candidates. CBS2’s Marcia Kramer believe both locals have a similar game plan – court the African American vote in South Carolina, an early primary state.