WASHINGTON – Nearly half of the Democratic presidential candidates made their case Wednesday to one of the largest growing voter field: women of color.
The candidates convened at the She The People Presidential Forum, which was held at Texas Southern University — a historically black university located in Houston.
Sens. Cory Booker, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren all spoke at the event.
The Democratic presidential field is one of the largest and most diverse in history, and several of the candidates have noted they are trying to reflect the United States' growing population.
The Census Bureau this week reported that that voter turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds jumped 79 percent from 20 percent to 36 percent. The bureau noted that it was the largest percentage point increase for any age group.
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In addition, the 2018 midterms also turned out more voters in racial groups. There was a more than 10 percentage point increase in black voter turnout in 2014 than in 2018. The Asian and Latino voter turnout also increased each by more than 13 percentage points.
Here are the top moments from the forum:
Castro mixed up with his twin
Former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro likely didn’t get the home state greeting he expected.
Before diving into answering questions on his policy stances, Castro noted that there was a mistake in the program: the photo was of his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro.
“I will say though that the picture you all have in your program is actually of my brother, Joaquin,” Castro told the moderators, which was met with laughs. “That’s my brother's picture, yeah it’s true.”
“He would say that that's a good thing because he's better looking that I am, but you know,” Julián joked.
Gabbard would repeal Muslim ban
Gabbard announced Wednesday that if she was elected, she would repeal President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban.”
“This is something that needs to be addressed,” she said.
The presidential proclamation restricts entry into the United States for certain groups of people from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia.
In addition, she also called out Trump for criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar.
“The criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar – what Donald Trump has been saying about her – is reprehensible,” Tulsi said. “It is trafficking in Islamophobia and should be condemned by everyone."
The president has repeatedly tweeted about Omar, one of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress. Omar (D-Minn.) has come under fire over the past several months for controversial comments she made about Israel. She has since apologized for some of her comments.
Omar has received death threats following Trump’s tweets, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sought protection for the Minnesota Congresswoman.
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Kamala would pardon those convicted of federal drug crimes
Harris, who was previously served as Attorney General of California, said that she would "absolutely" use her pardon power to release federal prisoners locked up for non-violent drug offenses.
"There are a lot of folks who have been incarcerated who should not have been incarcerated,” she said, adding Trump only uses his pardon power “for his friends.”
Harris went on to say that she believes that some of the young men who have been convicted of marijuana offenses should be “first in line” to get jobs in that industry.
“Now this is one of the fastest growing money making industries in our country, and the very young men who were trying to make money doing the same thing but got criminalized and have now been branded felons for life are excluded from the economic opportunities that are now available because of this new industry,” she said.
“Part of what has to happen is there has to be policies in place that look at the background and actually do the work that some of those young men should be first in line to get the jobs that are available,” Harris continued.
About 30 states have either legalized recreational and medical marijuana or just medical marijuana in the U.S.
Klobuchar says she doesn’t need just Midwest votes to win
Klobuchar, who has dubbed herself “The Senator Next Door,” said Wednesday that she won’t just rely on Midwestern voters to try to win the White House.
The Minnesota Senator has largely based her platform on trying to win over White working-class voters, who mostly voted for Trump in 2016.
Klobuchar, instead, said that anyone looking to be president will also need to win over voters of color.
“First of all, we have to do both to win. We have to do both,” she said.
She went on to point out how the 50th anniversary of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to Congress, coincided with 20 black women being elected to Congress during the 2018 midterms.
“That is the arc of justice and we need more,” Klobuchar said.
'I’ve got a plan'
Warren has been regarded as the candidate with the most detailed policy proposals.
And throughout the forum, the Massachusetts Senator prefaced her proposals with one simple phrase: "I've got a plan."
Warren, who received some of the loudest cheers from the audience, described her a number of her proposals, including racial housing discrimination and health care for all.
One policy Warren presented received renowned praise was addressing mortality rates for black women.
To combat this, Warren said she would incentivize hospitals with low maternal mortality rates, while penalizing hospitals with high maternal mortality rates.
"The United States for 25 years has profoundly failed on this front," Warren said of the maternal mortality rate for black women. "We have failed our mamas. We have failed our babies."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Castro twin mix-up and pardoning drug felons: 5 takeaways from 2020 candidates in She the People forum