WASHINGTON – After an unusually long silence, President Donald Trump finally weighed in on Tuesday night's Democratic debate, saying his prospective opponents would shrink a growing economy.
"If I hadn’t won the 2016 Election, we would be in a Great Recession/Depression right now," Trump tweeted Wednesday. "The people I saw on stage last night, & you can add in Sleepy Joe, Harris, & the rest, will lead us into an economic sinkhole the likes of which we have never seen before. With me, only up!"
In a separate retweet, Trump repeated his frequent claim that Democratic proposals are socialist: "'The lesser of two Socialists is still a Socialist!' Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana," he said, quoting the Republican.
Ten Democrats took the stage in Detroit on Tuesday for nearly three hours of debate in which progressives like Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. appeared to separate themselves from their more moderate opponents.
If I hadn’t won the 2016 Election, we would be in a Great Recession/Depression right now. The people I saw on stage last night, & you can add in Sleepy Joe, Harris, & the rest, will lead us into an economic sinkhole the likes of which we have never seen before. With me, only up!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2019
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Another debate Wednesday will feature ten more candidates, including, as Trump referenced, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris.
During Tuesday's session, Democrats referred to Trump as a "racist" whose lies are forging an economy that benefits corporations at the expense of the middle class and the poor.
Sanders called Trump a "liar," a "fraud" and a "phony" – but also added that beating him in the 2020 election "is not going to be easy."
Trump plans to make the economy a key part of his re-election strategy, trumpeting news that stock markets have hit hit record highs while the unemployment rate has hit record lows.
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Democrats say economic growth on Trump's watch is slower than it should be, and many of the jobs that have been added are low-paying. They say Trump's moves to cut taxes and reduce regulations benefit corporations rather than workers. Democrats who gathered for the debate in Detroit pointed to this week's closure of a nearby General Motors plant.
During the debate, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren said that "Donald Trump is part of a corrupt rigged system that has helped the wealthy and the well-connected and kicked dirt in the faces of everyone else."
Trump had maintained an unusual silence on Tuesday night, declining to tweet during or after the debate. Earlier Tuesday, Trump told reporters he planned to watch, and said then that he sees Biden as his likeliest opponent in the 2020 general election.
Trump also bashed one of the debate questioners, CNN anchor Don Lemon, calling him the "dumbest man on television" for a question that he said "insinuated" that Trump is a racist. Echoing a comment he made Tuesday, Trump claimed "in fact I am 'the least racist person in the world.'”
Lemon did not utter the word "racist" but his question included the comment that "President Trump is pursuing a reelection strategy based in part on racial division." At another point, Lemon asked, "what do you say to those Trump voters who prioritize the economy over the president's bigotry?"
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democratic debates 2019: Trump says candidates would shrink economy