Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar participate in a Democratic presidential candidates' debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14.
Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar participate in a Democratic presidential candidates' debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14.

Maintaining a strong U.S. military presence in the Middle East and Iran, and the ongoing nuclear weapons threat from North Korea were at the center of the seventh Democratic debate just ahead of the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday.

The candidates also tackled health care and impeachment during the debate.

“I’d like to get our combat troops out,” stated Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose position was echoed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

However, former Vice President Joe Biden said he opposed removing military personnel from the region.

Biden said it was important to have a presence of special forces because the return of ISIS was possible.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, didn’t say if he was for or against removing troops from the Middle East, but noted he was against sending additional military personnel there.

Six candidates took the debate stage; Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Hedge Fund boss Tom Steyer.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the race late and did not qualify for the debate. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker announced he was dropping out of the presidential campaign only days before the event.

Candidates debated a proposed new North American trade agreement between the U.S. and Canada with Sanders opposing such a deal.

“We can do much better than a Trump-led trade deal,” Sanders stated.

Warren said it’s important to help those who need assistance now. “I’d like to negotiate a better, coherent trade policy,” Warren stated.

As the foreign policy discussion heated up, Buttigieg injected climate change into the debate. He expects the next president to face serious challenges when it comes to cybersecurity and climate change, he said.

“It’ll be different in scope and kind than anything we’ve seen before,” Buttigieg noted.

Steyer, who said trade is his top priority, added that diplomacy is necessary for peaceful resolutions in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Sanders called climate change his top priority.

He said it’s the greatest threat facing the planet. “If we do not get our act together in terms of climate change, the plane will be increasingly unlivable,” Sanders said.

During an exchange between Warren and Sanders, Warren noted that the Democratic men at the debate had lost 10 elections, and only the women – she and Klobuchar – had never lost a race.

“The only people on this stage that have won every election are the women,” Warren stated. “The only person on this stage that has beaten an incumbent Republican any time in the last 20 years is me.”

The candidates also addressed health care.

Klobuchar and Buttigieg tossed about plans they said would cost less than Warren’s Medicare for All pitch.

There are two pharma lobbyists for every member of Congress. They might own Washington, but they don’t own me,” Klobuchar said. Medicare should be allowed to negotiate for lower drug prices and as President Ill get this work done for the American people.”

Biden remained firmly behind the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. He said the next president should expand that law.

Sanders said the Medicare for All plan would be a win-win for America.

“Our plan wouldn’t bankrupt the country, in fact, it would much improve the well-being of working class families and the middle class,” Sanders said.

With House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi poised to announce impeachment managers which will begin the proceedings in the Senate, the candidates finally tackled the proceedings against President Trump.

“It’s irrelevant. There’s no choice but for Nancy Pelosi and the House to move,” Biden stated after being asked whether it would be more difficult to beat Trump if he’s acquitted in the Senate.

“He has, in fact, committed impeachable offenses,” Biden said.

Warren stated that no one is above the law.

“This includes the president of the United States,” she said. “We have an impeachment trial, and I will be there because it is my responsibility.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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