Beto O'Rourke falters as his Democratic competitors hammer him on healthcare and immigration

Screenshot/NBC NewsBeto O’Rourke
  • Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke was attacked perhaps more than any other candidate in the first hour of Wednesday night’s 2020 Democratic primary debate.
  • After O’Rourke said his plan to reform the US healthcare system would involve a public option, but wouldn’t abolish private health insurance, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio became the first candidate to interrupt another.
  • Several minutes later, O’Rourke again came under attack by fellow a Texan, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who called him out for not supporting changing US law to decriminalize unauthorised border crossings.
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Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke was attacked perhaps more than any other candidate in the first hour of Wednesday night’s first 2020 Democratic primary debate.

After O’Rourke said his plan to reform the healthcare system would involve a public option, but wouldn’t abolish private health insurance, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio became the first candidate to interrupt another on the stage.

“Wait, wait, Congressman O’Rourke, private health insurance is not working for tens of millions of Americans when you talk about the co-pays, the deductibles, the premiums, the out-of-pocket costs expenses,” de Blasio said. “Why are you defending a system that’s not working?”


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Former Rep. John Delaney than jumped in to rescue O’Rourke and make his own case.

“I think we should be the party that keeps what’s working and fixes what’s broken,” Delaney said.

Several minutes later the debate turned to immigration and exposed the rift between the two Texans on stage – O’Rourke and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

Castro, the only 2020 candidate who’s laid out a comprehensive immigration policy, attacked O’Rourke for not supporting the decriminalization of undocumented border crossings.

“I just think it’s a mistake, Beto, I think it’s a mistake,” Castro said. “If you truly want to change want to change the system then we gotta repeal that section.”

The two then got into a back and forth in which O’Rourke accused Castro of focusing on just one facet of immigration policy, and Castro insisted O’Rourke was ignoring the criminalization of non-asylum seekers.

Reporters and other critics online were quick to comment on these head-to-head moments with other candidates.

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