WASHINGTON – It was their first chance to shine.
On a crowded stage in Miami on Wednesday, Democrats tried to stick out — offering their ideas, policies and one-liners hoping for a viral moment.
The two-hour debate allowed a chance for voters to get acquainted with 10 of the 24 candidates and how they plan to beat President Donald Trump in 2020. On Thursday, 10 more candidates who qualified for the debate will take the stage.
Here are some of the key moments from Wednesday's debate:
1. Beto O'Rourke speaking Spanish and that Cory Booker stare
Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke was the first candidate of the Democratic debate to answer a question not only in English, but also in Spanish — and people took notice allowing him a chance to stick out on the crowded stage.
O'Rourke, who hails from the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, was asked whether he would support a 70% marginal tax rate. Instead of answering that question immediately, O'Rourke talked about the economy and said he didn't believe it was working for everyone. He also touched on several other topics, including ending gerrymandering and political action committees.
"Right now we have a system that favors those who can pay for access and outcomes," he went on to say. "That's how you can explain an economy that is rigged to corporations and to the very wealthiest."
As he was speaking, those on social media noticed Sen. Cory Booker's face and the glare he was giving O'Rourke. Later, Booker also spoke Spanish when asked about immigration.
Latino voters are an increasingly important block of voters in the primary election. In addition, the debate is being held in Miami, where many voters are bilingual.
2. Klobuchar defends female candidates on abortion
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee touted his record of protecting reproductive rights for women — saying he had done more than any of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
Inslee said he was the "only candidate" onstage who has signed a law protecting women’s rights to abortion.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., immediately responded with a laugh, before reminding the governor he was onstage with three female candidates. "I just want to say there's three women up here that have fought pretty hard for a women's right to choose, I'll start with that."
Over the past couple of months, several states have passed restrictive abortion laws.
Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia passed bills that ban abortion after six weeks. Alabama also passed a near-total ban on abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Missouri also passed a law that bans abortions after eight weeks, and with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
3. De Blasio cuts off candidates
Polling around 1%, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio is trying to get noticed and he cut off other candidates several times to get the spotlight.
De Blasio stopped O'Rourke as they were talking about health coverage. It was the first tense moment between candidates during the debate.
Here's the exchange:
O'Rourke: “If you can’t afford your premiums, we enroll you in Medicare, but If you are a member of a union that negotiated for a healthcare plan that you like because it works for you and your family, you are able to keep it ...”
Moderator Lester Holt: “Would you replace private insurance?”
O'Rourke: “No. I think the choice is fundamental ...”
At this point, De Blasio interrupts: “Private insurance is not working for tens of millions of Americans when you talk about the co-pays… the premiums, the out of pocket expenses, it’s not working.”
O'Rourke: “They can choose Medicare ...”
At that point, both were talking over each other giving former Maryland Rep. John Delaney to step in.
“I think we should be the party that keeps what’s working and fixes what’s broken," Delaney said.
4. Castro puts Beto on blast on immigration
The spotlight has been on immigration over the last two years but increased reports about the poor conditions in migrant detention centers, along with a number of deaths has increased the stakes.
Democrats widely agreed that the family separations that have taken place under President Donald Trump’s administration’s are not in the nation’s interest and offered a variety of ideas on how to mend the humanitarian crisis at the southern U.S. border.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 27, 2019
Former Obama housing chief Julian Castro argued that the Trump administration should "not criminalize desperation," saying that the policies put into place over the last two years are "horrendous."
Castro challenged everyone to end the section of the code that makes “illegal entry” a misdemeanor. Instead, it would be only a civil offense.
He specifically called out O'Rourke for refusing to back the idea.
"I just think it's a mistake Beto," Castro said. "I think it's a mistake and I think if you truly want to change the system, then we got to repeal that section."
O'Rourke argued that this was just one small part of the problem.
"With respect, you're looking at just one small part of this. I'm talking about a comprehensive re-write of our immigration laws," he responded, adding his record in Congress.
5. Booker on guns: 'This is personal'
Guns were a popular topic among candidates and some offered stories, views and their plans even when they were asked about other issues — all stressing that something needed to change to prevent gun violence and mass shootings.
Booker tried to bring the debate home, saying he’s probably the only one on the panel who lives in a neighborhood where seven people were shot last week. He noted one of his friends was killed last year in a shooting.
“This is not policy,” Booker said. “This is personal.”
6. Klobuchar digs at Trump
Klobuchar emerged as the most aggressive critic of Trump in the debate, attacking the president on immigration, the economy and Iran.
“He has made us less safe than we are right now,” Klobuchar said in response to a question about Trump pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.
She accused the president of taking the nation “one tweet away from going to war.”
"I don't think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5 in the morning," Klobuchar said.
7. Gabbard vs. Ryan on the Taliban
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, one of the only veterans on stage during Wednesday's debate, corrected Rep. Tim Ryan after he claimed that the Taliban committed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Ryan said that the U.S. must stay engaged in the Middle East or "the Taliban will grow and they will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts."
But Gabbard, who served in Iraq and Kuwait with the National Guard, was quick to respond.
She noted that the Taliban were there before the U.S. sent troops to Afghanistan.
“When we weren’t in there, they started flying planes into our buildings,” Ryan responded.
“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11,” Gabbard shot back. “Al-Qaeda did.”
"That's why I and other people joined the military," she continued, "to go after Al-Qaeda. Not the Taliban."
Contributing: Ledyard King, Rebecca Morin, John Fritze
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Beto O'Rourke's Spanish, Cory Booker's stare: Top 7 takeaways from Wednesday's Democratic debate