ATLANTA — Health care, taxes and corruption are just some of the issues that 10 presidential candidates covered in a debate that was contentious at times Wednesday night at the Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta.
Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot was at the debate as the top Democratic candidates made their cases as to why the public should vote for them for president in 2020.
It didn’t take long for them to focus on President Donald Trump and the impeachment inquiry.
“We have a criminal living in the White House,” said Sen. Kamala Harris.
“We have to establish the principle (that) no one is above the law,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said.
“We are absolutely going to confront the president for his wrongdoing,” said South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders also added that Democrats have to talk about more than just going after Trump.
“We cannot simply be consumed by Donald Trump, because if we are, you know what? We’re going to lose the election,” Sanders said.
More than 1,000 people attended the debate, including former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
She believes Georgia will be in play in 2020.
“What we know is that Georgia is on everyone’s mind. We are a battleground state because we, in a decade, have closed the gap in a presidential race from 8 points to 5 points in 2016 and, (in) my race, 1.4 points,” Abrams said
Earlier in the day, Elliot spoke with Marc Lotter, the Trump campaign’s strategic communications director.
He said it doesn’t matter what the Democrats do, Georgia is a red state.
“I think what they’re trying to do is counter what we have seen happening in so many different places where you’re seeing traditional voting blocs that have been traditionally Democratic, they’re now coming out in support of President Trump,” Lotter said.
Ahead of Wednesday’s debate, dozens of people gathered outside the main entrance to Tyler Perry Studios to support their candidates and even protest.
Channel 2's Dave Huddleston spoke to several of the people in that crowd. Among them were Trump supporters, immigration advocates and a group that supports reparations for years of slavery.
"We need to be seen by the people we vote for. We vote Democratic, like, 90% for the last 60 years, so we want them to know we are here, and we want you to hear our agenda," said Shameeka Andrews, with American Descendants of Slavery.
Protestors were also demanding that the candidates end deportation of immigrants.
“We're nonpartisan but we want them to hear our demands to end deportations and stop separating families and we want to decriminalize migration and of course to abolish ICE," said. Kevin Joachin with the Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights.
Huddleston also spotted a man circling the block in a truck to show his support for Trump.
The vice chairman of the Democratic committee, Michael Blake, told Huddleston that all this shows that Georgia is a key state in the 2020 presidential election and it's time for change.
“Before being Republicans or Democrats, we're Americans. We cannot continue down this road,” Blake said. “This also sends a message to the country. People don't want to just hear that Trump is bad, but what are you saying, as a Democrat, that you're good?”
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