Ten candidates running to challenge Donald Trump for the presidency in 2020 came to Cobo Center Wednesday morning to make their case for why they should be president. The forum was part of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People’s 110th National Convention.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris; Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former House member Beto O’Rourke; former Secretary Julian Castro; former Vice President Joe Biden; and Gov. Bill Weld (the only Republican) attended. Each candidate was given two minutes to introduce themselves, followed by a discussion with journalist April Ryan.
Biden and Harris received the most applause, while Warren and Sanders were also notably well-received. (Biden received an endorsement from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday.) Many attendees left during Weld’s portion of the time, which came after all the Democrats had gone.
Weren’t able to attend? Below, MT compiled notable quotes from each candidate, in the order they went on.
Warren called out redlining — a way to change the makeup of neighborhoods by refusing loans to someone because they live in an area deemed to be a poor financial risk — and its effects on the Black community. She said her plan would get more African-Americans to be homeowners.
In her closing statement, she gave a nod to her “plan” theme.
"A country that elects a man like Donald Trump has serious problems, and we need to make big, structural change,” Warren said. “And if you want to get something done, you better have a plan for it."
Booker discussed the importance of inspiring the country in his opening statement: "This election has to be not just about what we are against, but what we are for," he said. "We must be ready to bring a fight not just to the election, but to getting things done in Washington."
He discussed how the government and its public organizations, like the police for example, have historically hurt minority communities, and he pledged to dismantle oppressive systems if elected.
"We need to show that we are a nation of courageous empathy. We are a nation of love," Booker said. "We will never be a nation of 'liberty and justice for all' unless we become a nation that invests in our communities."
O’Rourke used his opening statement to describe the troubled history of Texas in the context of voter suppression. He said it is an issue that hurts the nation as a whole, and is one of his priorities if elected.
He also discussed the importance of supporting equality for all people and governing equitably: "I want to make sure we allow every American to live to their full potential."
Buttigeig discussed a variety of issues, from education to pay equity. However, what was possibly his most notable quote during his portion came during his closing statement.
"I encourage you to watch me speak about systemic racism not only to mainly Black audiences, but to mainly white audiences,” Buttigeig said. "I'm convinced if we don't end systemic racism in my lifetime, it will unravel the American project."
Ryan noted Castro was the first candidate to release a Black agenda. He said he was glad the community found it to be substantive.
Castro spent much of his time bolstering the importance of diversity in America.
"We need a country where everyone counts, where everyone has a place at the table," Castro said. "I don't want to make America anything again. I don't want to go backward, I want to go forward."
Sanders emphasized the importance of high voter turnout, saying higher voter turnout increases the likelihood of Democrats winning elections.
He discussed the need for a change in priorities in the country. Similar to his 2016 talking points, Sanders said his goal as president would be to create a country that works for everyone, not just "the 1 percent."
"We are talking about putting a massive amount of money into distressed communities — often African-American and Latino communities — to end the absurd inequities," Sanders said. "This is a moment to become a great nation we all know we can become."
When Klobuchar walked out, she made the audience erupt in laughter after she quipped about being placed after Sanders. She, like other candidates, said the Democratic Party needs someone bold who is going to be a fighter for everyone.
"We need someone bold, who is going to continue this march and work with the NAACP," she said.
Biden entered and left the stage to a standing ovation. In his opening statement, he asserted that America is better than its current state.
Though he said he and Barack Obama are close friends, he also clarified this is his own campaign — not one tacked on to his eight years as vice president.
"This is not a continuation of Barack and I's administration,” Biden said. “There's new problems to solve."
Harris asked attendees to take action and make their voices heard, because it is what those before them did to get America to where it is today. She called Trump a “predator” and said America needs someone who can stand up to him.
"We all stand on broad shoulders of those who came before us and fought a good fight,” Harris said. “I think of this as a baton in a relay race — what are we going to do?"
Most notably, Weld broke with many in his party and condemned Trump’s language toward minorities: "Donald Trump is a raging racist."
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