Wednesday night at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, ten Democratic presidential primary candidates sparred for two hours over traditional quality-of-life issues such as health care and paid family leave as well as tackling the idea of how to defeat President Donald J. Trump and coalesce the different factions within the party.

Ironically, the debate began one hour after the House Intelligence Committee finished a lengthy day of testimony that lasted almost eleven hours. One of the more notable exchanges in the first hour of the debate took place between Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii and Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif. as Harris went after Gabbard’s penchant for appearing on Fox News and cozying up to Russia.

“I think that it’s unfortunate that we have someone on this stage who is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, who during the Obama administration spent four years full time on Fox News criticizing President Obama,” said Harris. “who has spent full time — who has spent full time criticizing people on this stage as affiliated with the Democratic Party, when Donald Trump was elected, not even sworn in, buddied up to Steve Bannon to get a meeting with Donald Trump in the Trump Tower, fails to call a war criminal by what he is as a war criminal, and then spends full time during the course of this campaign, again, criticizing the Democratic Party.”

Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey discussed Warren’s two-cent wealth tax plan. Warren says the first $50 million would be taxed free and clear, then with the $50 millionth and first dollar, an individual would pay a two cent tax. Booker took Warren’s talking point one step further and addressed African-American entrepreneurship.

“When I stood in church recently and asked folks in a black church how many people here want to be entrepreneurs, half the church raised their hands,” Booker said. “If we as a country don’t start — if we as a party don’t start talking not just about how to tax wealth, but how to give more people opportunities to create wealth, to grow businesses, to have their American dream — because, yeah, we need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, $15 an hour.

But the people in communities I frequent, they’re not — aspiration for their lives is not just to have those fair wages.  They want to have an economy that provides not just inequalities in wealth, but they want to have equalities in opportunity.  And that’s what our party has to be about, as well.”

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren continued to champion Medicare for All. However, Vice President Joe Biden said many individuals he talked to are happy with their private insurance. Mayor Pete Buttigieg added it would be “divisive” for Americans to be forced into the public option.

As the second hour of the debate rolled on, the first half was dominated by questions regarding foreign policy and each candidate’s plan to undo President Trump’s personality-driven brand of diplomacy. Then Kristen Welker of NBC asked a question regarding hate crimes to Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard.

“We have seen for far too long the kind of racial bigotry, divisiveness, and attacks that unfortunately have taken the lives of our fellow Americans,” Gabbard said. “It’s important that we set the record straight and correct the racial injustices that exist in a very institutional way in our country, beginning with things that have to do with our criminal justice system, where predominantly the failed war on drugs that has been continuing to be waged in this country has disproportionately impacted people of color and people in poverty.”

Notably, neither Booker or Harris were asked that question, although the Senator from California took the time to address Welker’s question, crystallizing the fact that most Democrats do not emphasize enough: Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party.

“Don’t thank me (black women) for showing up for you. Show up for me!”

Including Welker, there were three other female moderators: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, NBC News reporter and host Andrea Mitchell and Ashley Parker, a White House reporter for The Washington Post. It was only the third time a primary debate has been hosted by an all-female panel.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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