Gillibrand downplays suggestion that Democrats were too hard on each other during debate

Posted at 7:29 AM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 09:29:48-04

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday downplayed the notion that there was too much friendly fire exchanged during Wednesday’s debate hosted in Detroit by CNN, saying the crossfire is a natural part of the primary process.

Gillibrand was one of several candidates who on Thursday brushed off the idea that there was too much Democrat-on-Democrat criticism at Wednesday’s debate, which featured 10 candidates openly sparring over hot-button issues, including health care and immigration.

“On the stage last night, was there too much friendly fire?” CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked Gillibrand on “New Day.”

“No, I think the nature of the questions were trying to get to the nitty-gritty of policy. And one of the points I made is let’s not lose the forest for the trees,” the New York senator replied.

Businessman Andrew Yang, another 2020 hopeful who was on Wednesday’s debate stage with Gillibrand, echoed the senator’s point, saying on CNN’s “New Day” that the crossfire is just a part of the “mechanics” of the process.

“One of the things I joke about but it’s true: you notice that everyone always attacks someone above them in the polls,” Yang said. “You’re going to have to take a shot at one of the front-runners, and so that’s why we have this dynamic that encourages us to tear down the front-runners.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who pressed front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden on his record on criminal justice during the debate, said Thursday on “New Day” that while he has disagreements with Biden, “I’m not sucker-punching him.”

“I’m very straightforward with my disagreements. But at the end of the day, I respect him. He’s a statesman, been at this for decades. I’m not trying to actually tear him down. I’m trying to prepare our party to deal with the issues that I think voters care about,” Booker said.