Election 2020 Debate

From left, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former Vice President Joe Biden raise their hands as candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Following the first Democratic presidential debate of 2020, UF political party leaders shared their thoughts on the lack of diversity on the debate stage.

The debate was held Tuesday night at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. It was the last presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses begin Feb. 3.

Although there are 12 Democratic candidates running for president, only six conquered polling and fundraising thresholds to qualify for the debate: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren.

This was the first Democratic debate of the election cycle that didn’t have a candidate who was a person of color.

Christina Pugliese, the outreach director for UF College Democrats, said the lack of minorities on stage was like “going backward in history.” 

Pugliese said she hoped to hear a broader range of topics compared to previous debates, as she was interested in hearing the  stances candidates had on transgender rights and intersectional feminism.

She enjoyed listening to Julián Castro discuss these topics but now that he’s out of the race, her other choices — Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — don’t talk about the issues, she said.

Still, Pugliese said she believes Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders might secure the Democratic nomination. Of the two, she hopes that Sanders will prevail.

“Especially in Iowa, Bernie Sanders is killing it, and I’m OK with that,” Pugliese said.

During the debate, candidates discussed how to make America safer, how to keep businesses accountable through environmental regulations, whether a woman could be president and the cost of health care plans for Americans.

Robert Meyer, a 20-year-old UF finance junior and vice president of UF College Republicans, said he thinks this lack of diversity on stage is “hypocritical” of the Democrats.

“It’s kind of a shame that the party that always preaches about diversity — in particular diversity of color — is the party that doesn’t actually have diversity up on stage,” Meyer said.

Contact Samantha Chery at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SammyChery4276.