Democratic frontrunners spar over healthcare

Democratic presidential hopefuls US Senator for Vermont Bernie Sanders (R) greets Former US Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. (L) as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren looks on during the third Democratic primary debateImage copyright
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Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders (right), Former US Vice President Joe Biden (centre) and Elizabeth Warren

Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden and close rivals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have feuded over healthcare at the party’s third debate.

The debate in Houston, Texas, is the first time the three presidential hopefuls have been on stage together.

Mr Biden attacked the feasibility of Mr Sanders’ universal healthcare plan, Medicare for All, while Ms Warren and Mr Sanders defended the measure.

Only the 10 highest-polling Democrats in the field of 20 are on stage.

The eventual Democratic White House nominee will be announced at the party convention next July, before the presidential election in November.

Healthcare, which was a key topic during the prior debates, dominated the opening exchanges in Thursday’s debate.

The exchanges saw the two most left-leaning candidates, Mr Sanders and Ms Warren, under fire from more moderate party members.

Mr Biden criticised Mr Sanders’ Medicare for All plan as being too expensive to work and said the country should focus on improving President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act instead.

Ms Warren defended the policy, saying families have to deal with exorbitant healthcare bills now, and only wealthier individuals and corporations would see increased costs from the plan.

Who’s on stage?

Here’s the full line-up for the third Democratic debate, which, unlike the two prior events will take place over one night as only 10 candidates fulfilled the stricter polling and donor requirements.

  • Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • New Jersey Senator Cory Booker
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
  • Former Vice-President Joe Biden
  • Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
  • California Senator Kamala Harris
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
  • Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke
  • Former Obama housing secretary Julian Castro

There are 10 others left in the race, and four have dropped out.

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The 10 Democrats taking part in Thursday’s debate

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