Every single Democratic presidential candidate on stage in Thursday night’s debate raised their hand when asked if their healthcare plans would include coverage for undocumented immigrants, a shift left on a hot-button issue for a number of front-running candidates.
Former vice president Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg were among them, and the pair of more centrist candidates defended their stands.
“Our country is healthier, when everybody is healthier. And remember, we're talking about something people are getting a chance given a chance to buy into,” Buttigieg said. “This is not about a handout. This is an insurance program. And we do ourselves no favors. By having 11 million undocumented people in our country be unable to access healthcare.”
Biden similarly defended that position.
“You cannot let people who are sick, no matter where they come from, no matter what their status, go uncovered,” he said. It's just going to be taken care of. Period. You have to, it's the humane thing to do.”
That’s the first time Biden has taken that stance, as well as a reversal for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, according to the Washington Post.
The unanimous show drew strong applause from the liberal audience — but it could risk alienating swing voters in the general election, especially in more the more populist blue-collar Midwestern states President Trump swung to his column last election to put him in the White House. Trump has made it clear he’s going to make immigration and race-baiting a centerpiece of his campaign once again.
Trump seemed to delight in the response.
And Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale signaled this will soon be part of Republican messaging:
Cover: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former tech executive Andrew Yang, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) raise their hands during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida. A field of 20 Democratic presidential candidates was split into two groups of 10 for the first debate of the 2020 election, taking place over two nights at Knight Concert Hall of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)