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Biden attacks Warren, Sanders over cost of healthcare plans in Democratic debate

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Biden attacks Warren, Sanders over cost of healthcare plans in Democratic debate

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden clashed with progressive challengers Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on healthcare in a debate on Thursday, defending Obamacare and pushing them to be honest about the cost of their plans.

With the top 10 Democratic candidates sharing the debate stage for the first time, they focused more on their shared opposition to Republican President Donald Trump and pared back some of the bickering that marked the first two debates this summer.

Biden was sharper and more aggressive than in either of the first two debates, when he came under frequent attack for his record on race and criminal justice during his long tenure in the U.S. Senate.

But like the first two debates, the Democrats were quick to leap into battle on healthcare, the issue that has ignited the most heated disagreements in the campaign for the party’s nomination to face Trump in the November 2020 election.

Biden, who served as vice president for eight years under Barack Obama, said he would build on Obama’s landmark 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. He accused Warren and Sanders of wanting to tear it down with Medicare for All, a proposed government-run healthcare program that would eliminate private insurance.

“I know that the senator says she’s for Bernie. Well I’m for Barack. I think Obamacare worked,” Biden said, asking Warren and Sanders to explain how they would pay for their plans. “This is about candor, honesty, big ideas.”

Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts who has moved into second behind Biden in many opinion polls of the Democratic race, praised Obama’s healthcare efforts but said more was needed.

“Now the question is how best can we improve on it,” she said, adding that under Medicare for All, those at the top would pay more but the middle class would pay less.

Aside from the exchange over healthcare, Biden and Warren avoided any direct confrontations. Sanders and former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro led the charge against Biden.

Sanders, who sponsored a bill in the U.S. Senate to create a Medicare for All plan, said the program based on the existing government-run Medicare program for Americans 65 and older was the most cost-effective approach. Some analysts have estimated his plan would cost $32 trillion over a decade.

Biden said his proposal would give Americans more options, including staying with their plans if they like them.

“I’ve never actually met anybody who likes their health insurance company,” Warren fired back.

Castro accused Biden of flip-flopping in his description of his own plan.

“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro, 44, asked Biden, 76, who has faced questions about his age.

When Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, noted the exchange was what people did not like about politicians, Castro shot back: “That’s called an election.”

PRAISE FOR OBAMA

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also tried to calm things down, noting: “A house divided cannot stand,” quoting from a famous speech by Abraham Lincoln.

The candidates made an effort to praise the legacy of Obama, after facing criticism from some Democrats after the last debate for attacking his policies on healthcare and immigration.

But Castro, who has lagged badly in opinion polls, accused Biden of being quick to tie himself to Obama when it suited him and walk away when it did not.

“He wants to take credit for Obama’s work but not have to answer any questions,” Castro, who served in Obama’s administration, said in his second attack of the night on Biden.

Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren debate during the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

“I’m fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama and you’re not,” Castro told Biden. “That’ll be a surprise to him,” Biden responded.

Sanders took aim at Biden’s vote as a senator to authorize the U.S. military invasion of Iraq. He said: “I never believed” either President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney’s arguments in favor of the invasion.

While the debate was under way, Trump spoke to Republican lawmakers on a retreat in Baltimore, and said the Democrats were reinforcing the need for his re-election.

“You really have to elect me. Whether you like me or not, it makes no difference, because our country will go to hell if any of these people get in,” Trump said.

The debate was narrowed to one night and 10 candidates after the party toughened the requirements for qualifying. The previous two Democratic debates in June and July featured 20 candidates split over two nights.

Author Marianne Williamson, one of the contenders who did not qualify for the debate, commented on Twitter that it featured “nice people” but was not a game changer.

“All incremental. Ultimately boring,” she wrote.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang opened the debate by promising to give $1,000 a month to 10 Americans for the next year, calling it a “freedom dividend.” The offer drew laughs from a few other contenders.

“It’s original, I’ll give you that,” Buttigieg said.

The sharp bickering during the first two rounds of the debates dismayed some Democrats, who have urged the candidates to rein in their attacks and focus on laying out their own affirmative agendas.

The candidates this time tried to emphasize their areas of agreement. Biden praised former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke for his work after a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, drawing a sustained ovation from the debate crowd.

Slideshow (27 Images)

O’Rourke, who has called for gun licensing and a mandatory gun buyback for assault weapons, was asked if he was going to take away people’s guns.

“I am if it was a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield,” he said. “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

Reporting by Tim Reid and Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Peter Cooney

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

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Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

WATCH: LIBERAL POLICIES BLAMED FOR WORSENING CALIFORNIA’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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