Home Election 2020 What the Democratic presidential hopefuls said about Ohio during the debate

What the Democratic presidential hopefuls said about Ohio during the debate

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The Democratic presidential debate was held Tuesday night in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb located north of Columbus, and as such the candidates frequently mentioned Ohio’s swing state status, as many elections experts predict the state will likely be won by Republicans in 2020.

Here’s what else the candidates said about Ohio and the issues that concern its residents.

On the opioid crisis:

In the latter half of the debate, the candidates were asked how they will deal with the opioid crisis. The question was provided by a high school teacher in Proctorville, Ohio, who has seen high school students lose one or both of their parents to heroin.

Amy Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota, suggested that opioid manufacturers should pay for the treatment of those addicted to opioids. She also suggested implementing a 2 cents per milligram tax, which she said would help bring money to rural areas affected by the crisis.

Tom Steyer, a billionaire and Democratic activist, said he would address the crisis by ending the “corporate stranglehold” on the government. He said pharmaceutical companies and gun companies have bought the government and can do what they want. He floated term limits, a natural referendum and ending the idea that corporations are people as possible ways to accomplish his goal.

Andrew Yang, a businessman, said there were more opiate prescriptions in Ohio than there were people in some years. He said the federal government essentially turned a blind eye to the crisis, and that the $6 million fine levied against Purdue Pharma would barely put a dent in the pharmaceutical giant’s $30 billion earnings. 

Yang suggested that opiates should be decriminalized for personal use so that people can be referred to treatment instead of a jail cell. He also suggested opening up safe consumption and safe injection sites around the country.

Beto O’Rourke, a former U.S. representative from Texas, pivoted to marijuana legalization in his response, saying that the drug could be prescribed in the place of opiates if it was legal all over the country. 

After being asked if she would send pharmaceutical executives to jail, Kamala Harris said, as president, she and the United States Department of Justice would go after them. She also described these executives as “nothing more than some high-level dope dealers.”

Julián Castro, a representative from Texas and former Obama-era secretary of Housing and Urban Development, also said he would send pharmaceutical executives to jail.

Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, called for a political revolution to stop “unfettered capitalism” and to show CEOs harming the public that “enough is enough,” he said.

On the Dayton shooting and gun violence:

Moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN referenced the Aug. 4 Dayton shooting in the city’s Oregon District when he asked the candidates their plans to deal with gun violence in the U.S.

Cory Booker, a New Jersey senator, and Kamala Harris, a California senator, expressed their support of a mandatory buyback for assault-style weapons, while Elizibeth Warren, a Massecusetts senator, and Sen. Klobuchar both support a voluntary buyback program.

Harris even proposed a timetable for when she would get gun control codified if she was president. 

Congress has had years to act and failed because they do not have the courage,” she said. “When I’m elected, I’ll give them 100 days to pull their act together, put a bill on my desk for signature, and if they don’t, I will take executive action and put in place a comprehensive background check requirement and ban the importation of assault weapons into our country because it is time to act.”

Castro and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana do not support mandatory buybacks. Castro said mandatory buybacks were ill-defined, and if law enforcement is not going door-to-door to collect them, then it’s not mandatory. He shared his experience growing up in a neighborhood where gun violence was common and said people in his neighborhood were not looking for another reason for police to knock on their doors.

Former Vice President Joe Biden suggested that registering weapons would reduce them being used, and he touted the National Firearms Act — the first federal gun control law which placed a $200 tax on the manufacture or sale of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns — as a model for successful gun control legislation.

On jobs and manufacturing:

Early in the debate, the candidates were asked about the future of automation and how they would bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. 

O’Rourke said he met with the Lordstown General Motors workers who are striking and lost their jobs when their plant closed earlier this year. He proposed negotiating trade deals with Mexico, strengthening unions, improving education and creating apprenticeships as solutions that could bring manufacturing jobs back.

Yang raised concerns about the future of trucking jobs in Ohio and across the nation as the transportation industry moves toward automation. He also claimed that Ohio has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs, which led to the election of President Donald Trump. Ohio has lost around 300,000 manufacturing jobs since the 1990s, but Yang did not specify what timeframe he was referring to.

Castro claimed Ohio has lost jobs under Trump’s presidency. Jobs have actually increased under the Trump presidency, but blue-collar manufacturing jobs in Ohio have declined under his administration.

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