Warren emerges from first Democratic debate unscathed

Democratic presidential candidates New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio (L-R), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) take part in the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami. (AFP)
Updated 27 June 2019

Warren emerges from first Democratic debate unscathed

  • With 10 candidates onstage clamoring for attention and each given only a minute to respond, the evening often felt like a 10-car pileup or a round of speed dating
  • Warren benefited as well from the sheer chaos of the program

MIAMI: A lot could have gone wrong for Elizabeth Warren at Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate.
It didn’t.
Warren, a US senator from Massachusetts, arrived in Miami riding a wave of momentum among the race’s more than 20 candidates. By luck of the draw, she was onstage a night before most of the other top-tier Democratic contenders, such as former Vice President Joe Biden and US Senator Bernie Sanders.
As the first night’s top-polling candidate, she did not falter. Her progressive platform — similar to Sanders’— largely went unchallenged by the moderates standing alongside her.
Most important, her status in the race to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election placed her front and center for the Democratic voters watching at home, and she was given ample time at the outset to detail the populist, anti-corporate themes of her candidacy.
“When you’ve got a government, when you’ve got an economy that does great for those with money and isn’t doing great for everyone else, that is corruption, pure and simple,” Warren said in the early moments of the debate, when viewership is typically highest. “We need to call it out. We need to attack it head- on.”
Warren benefited as well from the sheer chaos of the program. With 10 candidates onstage clamoring for attention and each given only a minute to respond, the evening often felt like a 10-car pileup or a round of speed dating.
It was difficult for viewers to track the questions and responses as some candidates often changed the subject. They talked over one another in an effort to reassure the Democratic base that they all mostly shared a common set of progressive values, making it hard for lesser-known contenders to distinguish themselves.
Given the chance to take Warren on, some centrist candidates punted. Early in the debate, US Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was asked about Warren’s plan to provide tuition-free college at public universities. Instead of criticizing Warren’s plan as being too far-reaching, Klobuchar talked about her own support of community college and Pell grants for college students.
The evening illustrated the difficulty Democrats may face next year if the US economy remains robust. Following Warren’s lead, several candidates framed the issue in terms of the economy failing to serve middle-class, working-class and minority voters.
“I live in a low-income black and brown community,” said US Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. “I see every single day that this economy is not working for average Americans.”
Booker, Castro score points
Despite Warren’s strong performance, there were signs of potential pitfalls ahead. She was one of the few candidates onstage to promote the idea of doing away with private health insurance entirely in favor of Medicare. That earned some skepticism from others such as former Congressman Beto O’Rourke.
Her pledge was quickly highlighted by the Republican National Committee, which promised to use it against her in an effort to alarm voters worried about changes to their coverage.
Beyond Warren, the candidate who likely helped himself the most on Wednesday was Booker, who spoke more than anyone else and gave passionate, engaged answers on immigration and guns.
On gun violence, Booker said it was “something that I’m tired of. And I’m tired of hearing people, all they have to offer is thoughts and prayers.”
Former US Housing Secretary Julian Castro also may have raised his stock by getting into a sharp exchange with O’Rourke over decriminalizing border crossings by migrants.
Warren’s moment in the sun likely will be short-lived. On Thursday, Biden and Sanders will take the stage along with other top-tier White House hopefuls, including South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and US Senator Kamala Harris of California.


Britain’s William and Kate begin ‘complex’ tour of Pakistan

Updated 33 min 12 sec ago

Britain’s William and Kate begin ‘complex’ tour of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Prince William and his wife Kate arrived in Pakistan to a red carpet welcome late Monday for their “most complex” tour to date, with Islamabad eager to tout improved security after years of violent militancy.
The couple — the Duchess of Cambridge in a sea-green shalwar kameez, and the Duke in a dark suit — were greeted by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and presented with flowers after they landed in a British government plane at a military base in Rawalpindi, the garrison city adjacent to the capital Islamabad, state television images showed.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge (@katemidleton) on


Details of the five-day visit are being kept under wraps. Security is expected to be tight for the couple’s first official trip to Pakistan, and the first visit by a British royal since William’s father Charles and his wife Camilla came in 2006.
In addition to Islamabad they are set to visit the ancient Mughal capital of Lahore, as well as the mountainous north and the region near the border with Afghanistan in the west.
Kensington Palace has called the trip “the most complex tour undertaken by The Duke and Duchess to date, given the logistical and security considerations.”
The couple are also expected to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was close friends with William’s mother, the late Princess Diana.
“I’ve always been struck by the warmth in Pakistan toward the Royal Family,” British High Commissioner Thomas Drew said in a video published to Twitter late Sunday.

Britain's William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are welcomed as they arrive in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Reuters)

The couple’s program will pay respect to Britain’s historic relationship with Pakistan, once part of colonial India, he said.
“But it will focus largely on showcasing Pakistan as it is today, a dynamic, aspirational, and forward-looking nation,” Drew continued.
They are expected to see Pakistan’s efforts to combat climate change and learn about the “complex security” of the region, among other issues, a statement from Kensington Palace said earlier this month.
Pakistan has waged a long battle with militancy which has seen tens of thousands of people killed in the past 15 or so years.
Charles’ and Camilla’s 2006 trip was tainted when they were forced to pull out of a visit to Peshawar over safety concerns after the military launched an airstrike on a religious school that killed 80 people.
But security has improved dramatically since the army intensified a crackdown on militant groups in 2015, with several countries changing their travel warnings for Pakistan as a result, and Islamabad eager to promote both tourism and foreign investment.
There are promising signs, such as the British Airways return earlier this year after more than a decade, and the slow but steady revival of international cricket.
Analysts have long warned that Pakistan is not yet getting to the root causes of extremism, however, and militants retain the ability to carry out attacks, including in urban areas.
Moments before the couple’s arrival Monday, Qureshi used televised comments to invoke the memory of Diana, who charmed Pakistanis when she visited in her official capacity in 1991.
She also made several private visits in later years to help Khan — then a cricketer-turned-opposition politician married to her friend Jemima — raise money for a cancer hospital in Lahore.
“She is held in very high esteem in Pakistan... We are happy that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are now coming,” Qureshi said.
The visit showed that Pakistan has come out of “difficult times,” he added.
Pakistan was carved out of colonial India to become independent from Britain in 1947, creating an Islamic Republic for the subcontinent’s Muslims.
Britain is home to more than a million people of Pakistani origin, making it the largest Pakistani diaspora community in Europe.