(CN) – Ten more Democratic candidates faced off during the second night of the first primary presidential debate where immigration and health care dominated the discussion, including a fiery exchange between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden.
The debate, hosted by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, was held in Miami, Fla. for the second consecutive night.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who received the first question, kicked off the debate by discussing higher taxes to fund universal health care and a free college education.
“People who have health care under ‘Medicare for all’ will have no premiums, no deductibles, no copayments, no out-of-pocket expenses. Yes, they will pay more in taxes, but less in health care for what they get,” Sanders said.
The rest of the candidates who joined Sanders on the second night of debates were former Vice- President Joe Biden, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, author and activist Marianne Williamson, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and California Rep. Eric Swalwell.
Most of the candidates agreed on implementing new comprehensive health care reform and free higher education for Americans.
“We have to make sure we understand that to return dignity to the middle class, they have to have insurance that is covered and they can afford it. They have to make sure that we have a situation where there’s continuing education and they’re able to pay for it,” Biden said.
Hickenlooper expressed his support to improve the health care system, but said we can’t completely eliminate the system we have now.
When asked if free health care would also be offered to undocumented immigrants, all the candidates said yes without hesitation.
The debate also revealed some of the key differences between the 10 contenders who vastly argued the immigration issue and civil rights.
“First of all, we cannot forget our DACA recipients, and so I’m going to start there,” Harris said when asked about immigration. “I will immediately, by executive action, reinstate DACA status and DACA protection to those young people. I will further extend protection for deferral of deportation for their parents and for veterans, who we have so many who are undocumented and have served our country and fought for our democracy.”
“If you haven’t committed a crime, you should not be deported,” Kamala added.
Swalwell joined the immigration debate by saying that on day one of his presidency, he would reunite the families that have been separated by the Trump administration.
“There is nothing that Trump would not do to separate families, and cage children,” Swalwell said.
The topic of civil rights and racism caused a quarrel among Biden and Harris. Harris criticized Biden for his support of segregated busing in the 1970s.
“Growing up, my sister and I had to deal with the neighbour who told us her parents couldn’t play with us because we were black,” Harris said.
Harris accused Biden of praising two senators who she said “built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”
“It’s a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true, number one. Number two, if we want to have this campaign litigated on who supports civil rights and whether I did or not, I’m happy to do that,” Biden said.
During the second half of the debate, the candidates were also given the opportunity to briefly discuss their opinions on gun reform, climate change, the economy, abortion and foreign policy.
“We have a gun crisis right now. More than 40,000 people are being killed. I believe that we need comprehensive gun legislation,” Sanders said.
On the topic of climate change, Harris said the situation was more dire than people knew.
“I don’t even call it climate change. It’s a climate crisis. It represents an existential threat to us as a species,” Harris said. “And the fact that we have a president of the United States who has embraced science fiction over science fact will be to our collective peril.”
The contenders were given the opportunity to offer their closing remarks during the last few minutes of the debate.
“We have to restore the backbone of America, the poor and middle class people. We need to unite the United States. We can do anything if we are together,” Biden said.
“This election is about you. We need a candidate that can beat Trump. I would be a president that leads with a sense of humility and honesty,” Harris said.