Democratic Hopefuls Debate, Bloomberg Enters Race
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Democratic Hopefuls Debate, Bloomberg Enters Race

On the heels of the Democratic debate in Atlanta last week,d held campaign rallies in the city in the hopes of securing a base to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Front-runners in the race include former Vice President Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Front-runners in the race include former Vice President Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

On the heels of the Democratic debate in Atlanta last week, several candidates stayed an extra day and held campaign rallies in the city in the hopes of securing a base to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Here, the AJT focuses on the lone Jewish candidate in attendance, Bernie Sanders, issues of particular importance to the Jewish community, and the entrance of another Jewish candidate this weekend: former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Ten Democratic candidates took the stage at the primary debate at Tyler Perry Studios Nov. 20, discussing issues such as foreign policy, economic inequality and immigration, and taking jabs at U.S. President Donald Trump and Republicans.

Bernie Sanders was the only candidate to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “It is no longer simply good enough for us to be pro-Israel. I’m pro-Israel, but we must treat the Palestinian people as well with the respect and dignity that they deserve,” he said, winning applause from the audience. He raised criticism of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, calling it “unsustainable” and citing high levels of unemployment.

Sanders was also critical of other aspects of current American foreign policy. “Saudi Arabia is not a reliable ally,” he said. He addressed Saudi Arabia’s lack of democracy and treatment of women, as well as the death of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was allegedly killed and dismembered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Bernie Sanders spoke at Morehouse College Nov. 21, a day after the debate.

“We have got to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia together in a room under American leadership,” Sanders said. He was referring to the ongoing conflict between the two countries having violent consequences on many other nations in the region.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was critical of Saudi Arabia as well, saying he would “make them pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris also addressed foreign policy and criticized President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying, “Donald Trump is the greatest threat to the national security of our nation at this moment.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known colloquially as the Iran nuclear deal, has widespread support from the international community as a framework for oversight of Iran’s nuclear program. However, it was opposed by the Israeli government, which has stated publicly that it doesn’t believe it will stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lobbied for U.S. withdrawal of support for the deal, The New York Times reported earlier this month. Trump’s subsequent decision to do so has since been highly criticized by leaders of other countries involved, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany.Candidates Andrew Yang and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard were directed a question on the issue of white supremacist violence. A debate moderator cited FBI Director Christopher Wray as saying that this violence makes up the majority of domestic terrorism cases. Neither candidate brought up anti-Semitic violence specifically.

Gabbard responded to the question of how to deal with white supremacist violence by promising to overhaul the criminal justice system and address racial bigotry. “The most important thing here is that we recognize that we have to treat each other with respect, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, orientation and our politics,” she said. “That kind of leadership starts at the top.”

Yang, who is a philanthropist and entrepreneur, said white supremacist terrorism should be designated as domestic terrorism so it can be measured by the Department of Justice. Young men are drawn into hate groups because they’re “falling through the cracks,” Yang said, and the country needs to find ways to integrate young men into the economy.

Several days after the debate in Atlanta, Bloomberg entered the race as well. The Bloomberg News owner and multi-billionaire launched his campaign Nov. 24. “We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions,” he said, according to Reuters.

With a net worth of $54.1 billion, according to Forbes, Bloomberg has the advantage of being able to finance his own campaign. He has already put $31 million into television ads, his campaign said, and will spend $100 million on an online campaign.

His campaign will reportedly skip the first four early voting states to focus on later battleground states.

Michael Bloomberg announced his candidacy Nov. 24.

Bloomberg, a former Republican, has support for his progressive stances on gun control and climate change and for his moderate economic positions, but faces criticism for his handling of criminal justice as mayor of New York City. Critics say the policy of “stop and frisk,” which gave New York City police the ability to stop and search people on the street, was racist as it unfairly targeted black men. Bloomberg apologized for the policy earlier in November.

He is also criticized by other candidates for entering the race. “We do not believe that billionaires have the right to buy elections. … Multi-billionaires like Mr. Bloomberg are not going to get very far in this election,” Bernie Sanders said at a campaign event following Bloomberg’s announcement.

Many of the candidates held rallies the day after the debate in Atlanta attempting to appeal to black voters, who make up an important Democratic voting bloc.

Sanders spoke to a diverse crowd at a Morehouse College rally, announcing his plan to make historically black colleges and universities tuition-free and decrease the funding gap between them and white-majority schools.

The Jewish candidate discussed his family’s history with oppression in Europe and related the anti-Semitism experienced at the hands of the Nazis to the racism black people face in America. He described the fate of his family members in the Holocaust and promised to take concrete steps to change discrimination in the United States, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Five other candidates participated in an event with civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, who has stirred controversy in the past with comments about various groups, including Jews. Democratic hopefuls Yang, U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire Tom Steyer all spoke at a breakfast organized by Sharpton’s National Action Network, discussing civil rights, diversity and racism. The event, which took place at Paschal’s restaurant in Atlanta, included a number of other clergy from NAN.

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