Blog: In the spin room after 2nd Detroit debate

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DETROIT (WOOD) — Reporters heard from frontrunners including Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker in the spin room at the Fox Theatre in Detroit after the second of two back-to-back Democratic presidential primary debates.

The candidates who participated in Wednesday’s debate included (alphabetically): U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, former Vice President Joe Biden. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and businessman Andrew Yang.

Hits from the spin room (all times Eastern):

12:25 a.m.: Sen. Booker boasts Michigan blood (his mom is from Detroit) and says that if elected, he’ll work for unions and for Michigan workers hit hard by President Trump’s tariffs.

Booker attacks Vice President Biden on his criminal justice record, saying he’ll have to reckon with its effects and that he wishes he would admit he was wrong. Booker says the nation’s system disproportionately punishes minorities, and some of that’s down to the “three strikes” policy and overprosecution on marijuana.

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He goes on to say that Trump is stoking racial animosity but that he will encourage unity. He said he’s going to be talking about issues that matter, including black voter suppression that he says helped Trump win Michigan in 2016.

Asked about going up against the vice president, he says he knows Biden has better name recognition. But he says he feels confident about his performance Wednesday night and that he keeps seeing forward momentum every time he’s on a national stage.

11:55 p.m.: Asked about Vice President Biden’s pre-debate request to “go easy on me, kid,” Sen. Harris says she didn’t. She said there’s no room for that on such a huge stage.

She touts her record on civil rights issues, including on marriage, criminal justice and immigration. She says we need a president in the White House who has a track record of working on those issues and that she does.

11:30 p.m.: Sen. Gabbard stands by her concerns about Sen. Harris’ record as the attorney general in California. She says Harris didn’t do enough to help poor people and minorities.

Gabbard says the debate was important to show the contrast between candidates. She said it made it obvious that health care was a top concern for many.

The only combat veteran on the stage Wednesday night, she also promises to end foreign military action and redirect military funds to needs at home.

11:25 p.m.: Gov. Inslee touts his successes on providing a public option in health care in his state of Washington. He says he knows how to win in the Midwest having led efforts for the Democratic Governors’ Association when Michigan’s Gov. Whitmer was elected last year. He says Democrats win when they stick with their principles.

Asked what he’ll promise Michigan voters, he says he’ll invest in the automotive industry so Michigan workers are making our cars.

11:15 p.m.: Businessman Yang says it seemed like the strategy for most candidates on night two of the debates was to take aim at Vice President Biden. He says that’s unfortunate.

Addressing the economy, he says part of the problem with the job field in Michigan right now is that we don’t have workers with the proper training, blaming that on overprescription of college and not enough investment in trade and vocational schools.

11:02 p.m.: Sen. Gillibrand passes by without addressing the reporter scrum.

10:59 p.m.: Secretary Castro says it’s clear Vice President Biden and others are acting on fear on immigration. He says he’ll be a leader on the issue.

Close to making the third round of debates, he says he thought he had a successful debate Wednesday and that he has strong vision and strong campaign.

10:55 p.m. Sen. Bennet says the federal government has failed Michigan by spending money that could have been used here elsewhere abroad.

He criticizes DeVos-backed charter school rules that allow anyone to create a charter and says that Denver did it better, allowing school districts to be the charter authority.

10:54: Mayor de Blasio walks by without addressing the media.

10:50 p.m.: CNN’s analysis panel again includes former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat; and basketball player Charles Barkley.

detroit democratic presidential debate spin room
Inside the spin room at the Fox Theatre in Detroit after the Democratic presidential debate on July 31, 2019.

Ten other candidates debated Tuesday night in Detroit.

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