From expanding health care to fighting climate change, US Democratic candidates have fought to make a name in the crowded presidential race. Only one candidate called the Iran deal "wrong" and vowed to stay out of it.
Ten opposition presidential candidates on Wednesday debated contentious issues such as health care access, foreign policy, gun violence and irregular immigration in the first part of a two-day Democratic debate.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has become a front-runner in the race, said she would fight for a government-supported universal health care plan dubbed "Medicare-for-All," criticizing those who decried such a system.
"What they are really telling you is they just won't fight for it," Warren said. "Health care is a basic right, and I will fight for it." Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio were the only two who said they supported a system that eliminated private insurance.
The subject of health care has become a crucial point in the 2020 presidential election, especially after President Donald Trump took executive action to erode parts of his predecessor Barack Obama's expansion of health care access, popularly known as Obamacare.
Trump also weighed in on Twitter, though his comments weren't rich in content.
Elizabeth Warren, one of the Democratic Party's more progressive candidates, has gained a boost over the past month, according to polls
'Secure this country'
On the issue of Iran, New Jersey Senator Corey Booker was the only candidate on stage who said he did not support the Iran nuclear deal, calling it a "mistake." However, when pressed to explain why, he said he would "do the best I can to secure this country."
The Iran issue has risen to the forefront for US voters amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran over apparent attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. But for some candidates, other security priorities took precedence.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he was "truly astonished" that combating climate change wasn't a major priority for more candidates.
"We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation to do something about it," Inslee said. "This is a crisis, an emergency." Former congressman Beto O'Rourke and Warren also said climate change was the biggest threat to US security.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, who lead the polls, are scheduled to meet in the second part of the debate on Thursday evening.
ls/se (Reuters, AP)