Asked at the debate whether fossil fuels, including coal, and fracking would have a place in his administration, Biden said: “No. We would — we would work it out. We would make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, either — any fossil fuel.”
When asked to clarify on Thursday, his campaign issued a statement saying, “Joe Biden is committed to achieving a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050. He supports eliminating subsidies for coal and gas and deploying carbon capture sequestration technology to create economic benefits for multiple industries and significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”
CNN Scores Higher Debate Ratings on Night Two (5:26 p.m.)
The second night of CNN’s Democratic primary debate drew 10.7 million viewers, a 24% jump over Tuesday’s event as more people tuned in as front-runner Joe Biden tried to fend off attacks from lower-polling rivals.
The audience for Wednesday’s forum in Detroit marked CNN’s second-biggest for a Democratic debate, behind an October 2015 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, according to the network.
Still, the political brawl Wednesday among Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julian Castro and other 2020 presidential hopefuls fell short of the record 18.1 million viewers who watched the June 27 Democratic debate on NBCUniversal’s NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo networks.
The June audience topped the previous highest-rated Democratic presidential primary debate in 2015 by 2.6 million total viewers, but is eclipsed by the first Republican debate of the 2016 election cycle, when 24 million viewers tuned in to Fox News to watch Donald Trump spar with moderator Megyn Kelly. — Kim Chipman
Sanders Says He’ll Allow Canada Drug Purchases (3:30 p.m.)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders vowed Thursday that he would act on his first day in office to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from abroad.
“There is no rational reason why insulin and other life-saving medications should cost ten times more in the United States than Canada,” he said in a statement.
Sanders said he would direct the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to let pharmacists and patients buy FDA-approved prescription drugs from Canada. He also said he would reinstitute the National Institutes of Health regulation requiring that prescription drugs developed using taxpayer funds be sold at a fair price and his administration would exercise federal march-in rights to produce lower-priced generics of drugs.
Earlier this week, Sanders traveled with American citizens to Canada to buy insulin. The Vermont senator has a vocal critic of the pharmaceutical industry, arguing its profit-incentives harm Americans.
“The greed and corruption of the pharmaceutical industry is killing Americans,” Sanders said. “When I am president, starting on my first day in office, that greed and corruption will come to an end.” — Tyler Pager
Biden Backs Pelosi’s Changes for USMCA Trade Deal (2:48 p.m.)
Former Vice President Joe Biden said he supports the changes that House Democrats are seeking in the Trump administration’s overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are working with the White House to change provisions on labor, environment and pharmaceuticals, as well as strengthening the overall enforcement of the deal. Biden told reporters in Detroit on Thursday that these adjustments must be made to avoid some of the unintended consequences of the original Nafta, which he supported as a senator in 1993.
Biden said his support depended on “the four changes, as long as this time I got to make sure they are written in stone.”
Trade is a difficult issue for Democrats after President Donald Trump slammed Nafta in his 2016 campaign and pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord negotiated by then-president Barack Obama. If Biden, currently the presidential front-runner, came out against Trump’s renegotiated Nafta, Pelosi’s task of seeking changes and passing the measure this fall would be more difficult.
Biden said some of Nafta’s assurances for American workers “didn’t happen” and he wants firmer commitments in the new deal, known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. — Erik Wasson
Sanders’s Fundraising Soars After Debate (2:25 p.m.)
Bernie Sanders’s campaign manager said the presidential candidate has raked in $2 million since his appearance in the Democratic debate in Detroit, with more than 100,000 donations received on Tuesday and Wednesday combined.
Those two days of fundraising point toward a strong third quarter for the progressive firebrand, campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a memo to supporters. Shakir said that about one-fourth of contributors this week had never given to Sanders’s campaign before, and that the campaign had already received 250,000 donations in July before the CNN forum took place.
Shakir attributes the gush of new giving to Sanders’s unscripted moment in the Tuesday debate when Ohio Representative Tim Ryan questioned the Vermont senator’s portrayal of certain elements of the Medicare for All proposal. “You don’t know that, Bernie,” Ryan said. To which Sanders bluntly interjected, “I do know it. I wrote the damn bill.” — Laura Litvan
Democrats Face Steeper Test for Next Debate (11:54 a.m.)
The Democratic candidates who stepped off the stage of the second presidential debate in Detroit won’t all make it to the next round in Houston.
Just seven of the two dozen hopefuls have qualified for the third round of debates so far. In an attempt to narrow the field and keep the debate to a single night instead of two, the Democratic National Committee doubled the requirements to reach the stage.
Candidates must receive donations from 130,000 individuals in at least 20 states, with at least 400 donors in each. They also must receive at least 2% in four party-approved polls conducted from late June through late August.
Candidates who have qualified for the September round so far:
- Joe Biden, former vice president
- Cory Booker, U.S. senator from New Jersey
- Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana
- Kamala Harris, U.S. senator from California
- Beto O’Rourke, former U.S. congressman from Texas
- Bernie Sanders, U.S. senator from Vermont
- Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang met the donor threshold, but the DNC rejected his polling submission because two of his polls were both sponsored by NBC News. In order to meet DNC requirements, the four polls must be conducted and sponsored by different organizations.
– Emma Kinery
Health Profits Become 2020 Hopefuls’ Top Target (9:12 a.m.)
The profits of health care insurers and drug companies are emerging as a top target for the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who are promising Americans cheaper medical services.
“Competition is terrible in health care,” Bernie Sanders told CBS on Thursday, adding that eliminating the profits of private companies would cut the cost of health care significantly.
Kamala Harris, on MSNBC, said she would allow private companies to participate in her health system, but only if they play by the rules. “The status quo is not working,” she said.
Joe Biden said during Wednesday night’s debate that he’d seek to jail executives responsible for the opioid crisis.
– Kasia Klimasinska
Climate Divides Purists, Pragmatists at Debate (6 a.m.)
Disagreements between Biden and Jay Inslee over climate change policy broke down along a progressive-moderate divide at the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday, revealing a rift between bold ideals versus the pragmatic and possible.
“The time is up. Our house is on fire,” said Inslee, who has made climate change a centerpiece of his White House bid. He is calling for phasing out coal plants by 2030 and having all zero-emission electricity five years later.
Addressing Biden, the Democratic front-runner, Inslee said, “Unfortunately, your plan is just too late.”
Biden has proposed achieving 100% clean energy and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a tax on carbon dioxide emissions and $400 billion on spending on renewable energy.
– Ari Natter
Coming Up on Saturday:
At least 19 presidential candidates, including front-runners Biden, Sanders, Harris and Elizabeth Warren, will participate in the 2020 Public Service Forum in Las Vegas organized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union for government workers.