What you need to know for the Oct. 15 Democratic debate


Mark Nozell / Flickr

Kelsey Tice Nicholson

With a year to go until the 2020 election, the Democratic party has over 20 confirmed candidates running for president. Most Democratic candidates seem to be running on incredibly similar platforms, which may make it hard for Democratic voters to narrow down their top choice for Commander-in-Chief. With another Democratic debate happening on Oct. 15, it’s important to look at the participants who will be involved.

The Pace Press has compiled a list of the 2020 Democratic candidates who are participating in the debate on Oct. 15. and their stances on popular issues to help University students narrow down their selections. This article only deals with their stances on certain issues and not on the pasts and controversies surrounding the candidates. The Pace Press encourages you to do even deeper research into anyone you plan to vote for.


  • Climate Change: Biden’s plan will ensure that the U.S. achieves a 100 percent clean energy economy and reaches net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. He also plans to reenter the Paris Climate Accord.
  • Economy: Biden has pledged to close $1.6 trillion in tax “loopholes.” However, he does not believe “500 billionaires are the reason why we’re in trouble” and has vowed not to “demonize” the wealthy.
  • Health Care: Biden does not support Medicare-for-All, instead planning to expand Obama’s Affordable Care Act by giving every American access to affordable public health insurance and reducing health care costs.
  • Immigration: Biden’s website says he plans to secure the border in a humane fashion, and has recently pledged not to deport veterans who aren’t U.S. citizens.
  • Gun Control: Biden is a vocal supporter of gun control. He plans to ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require background checks for all gun sales, and incentivize “extreme risk” laws.
  • Women’s Rights: Biden personally opposes abortion. His campaign announced in June that he still supports the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother. Days later, Biden recanted his support for the Amendment. Biden’s campaign website says that he plans to increase access to contraception and protect the Constitutional right to an abortion.


  • Climate Change: Warren has proposed the Green Manufacturing Plan to develop technology to prevent climate change, including a $2 trillion 10-year investment dedicated to clean energy research and extending clean American technology to other countries.
  • Economy: Warren has proposed an Ultra-Millionaire wealth tax, wherein households with incomes above $50 million would be taxed two percent on every dollar of net worth above $50 million, and three percent on every dollar above $1 billion.
  • Health Care: Warren supports Medicare-for-All, plans to lower the cost of prescription drugs with the Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, and hold insurers accountable for adequate mental health benefits with the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act.
  • Immigration: Warren plans to allow more refugees into the U.S., end the abuse of migrants and reduce detention, and decriminalize border crossings. She also plans to remake ICE and CBP to refocus them on homeland security efforts and insist on transparency.
  • Gun Control: Warren has proposed a plan to reduce gun deaths by 80 percent by instituting universal background checks and prosecuting gun traffickers, as well as passing anti-corruption legislation. She also plans to pass gun violence prevention legislation which will be revisited yearly.
  • Women’s Rights: Warren has issued a Congressional call to action to protect women’s reproductive rights. She proposes an end to the Hyde Amendment, increasing funding for Title X, and repealing Trump’s gag rule that prevents doctors from discussing abortion with their patients.


View this post on Instagram

Paid for with a tax on the billionaire class.

A post shared by Bernie Sanders (@berniesanders) on

  • Climate Change: Sanders plans to reach 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030 and complete decarbonization by 2050, as well as investing $16.3 trillion and declaring climate change a national emergency.
  • Economy: Sanders wants to increase the estate tax to 77 percent for the wealthiest citizens in America, as well as calling for America to ensure a “decent-paying job” for all American citizens. He supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hour.
  • Health Care: Sanders is the originator of Medicare-for-All legislation in the Senate. He plans to give all Americans coverage for their entire lives, financed by taxes. He plans to lower the prices of prescription drugs with the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act.
  • Immigration: Sanders wants to enact immigration reform that includes a path towards citizenship, develop a humane policy for asylum seekers, and end the separation of families at the border.
  • Gun Control: Sanders plans to end the NRA’s “corrupting effect on Washington” and expand background checks, end the “gun-show loophole”, ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons, and prohibit high-capacity magazines.
  • Women’s Rights: Sanders is pro-choice and opposes the Hyde Amendment. He also plans to adopt the Equal Pay for Equal Work through the Paycheck Fairness Act and “fully fund Planned Parenthood, Title X, and other initiatives that protect women’s health, access to contraception, and the availability of a safe and legal abortion.”


View this post on Instagram

We need a Secretary of Education that believes in public education.

A post shared by Pete Buttigieg (@pete.buttigieg) on

  • Climate Change: Buttigieg wants to implement a Green New Deal with a carbon tax-and-dividend for Americans, build a 100 percent clean energy society, and decarbonize transportation and major corporations.
  • Economy: Buttigieg plans to close the wealth gap and raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. He has also proposed the Walker-Lewis Initiative to “spur entrepreneurship and job creation in underserved communities.”
  • Health Care: Buttigieg supports a single-payer healthcare system, describing his proposed system as “Medicare-for-All Who Want It,” maintaining the existence of private insurance agencies but providing other options.
  • Immigration: Buttigieg wants immigration laws that don’t compromise human rights by including a pathway to citizenship and reasonable security measures at the border. He also wants to end family separation at the border.
  • Gun Control: Buttigieg plans to instate universal background checks, enact extreme risk laws, close the boyfriend loophole, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and establish a nationwide gun licensing system.
  • Women’s Rights: Buttigieg is pro-choice and supports access to preventative care, contraceptive services, prenatal and postpartum care, and safe and legal abortion. He also plans to repeal the Hyde Amendment.


View this post on Instagram

I know how important having a teacher who looks like you is to your success.

A post shared by Kamala Harris (@kamalaharris) on

  • Climate Change: Harris plans to implement the Green New Deal as well as modernize our infrastructure for a carbon-free future. She also wants to build a clean economy that will create jobs in this modernization and re-enter the Paris Climate Accord.
  • Economy: Harris has unveiled a $3 trillion plan that would give single Americans making up to $30,000 a year a $3,000 tax credit and give married couples making up to $60,000 a year a $6,000 tax credit.
  • Health Care: Harris’s Medicare-for-All plan would expand the current Medicare system and allow “private insurers to offer Medicare plans as a part of this system that adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits.”
  • Immigration: Harris is a vocal supporter of the DACA program and says she plans to reevaluate ICE. She also plans to end family separation at the border.
  • Gun Control: Harris is in favor of banning assault weapons, requiring universal background checks, and repealing the NRA’s corporate gun manufacturer immunity. She also plans to close the “boyfriend loophole” and make gun trafficking a federal crime.
  • Women’s Rights: Harris unveiled her Reproductive Rights Act, which will prevent states from enacting abortion-restricting laws without clearing it with the Justice Department. She also does not support the Hyde Amendment. Harris supports equal pay for women and will protect Planned Parenthood.


  • Climate Change: Climate change will be O’Rourke’s top priority as president. He plans to invest $5 trillion in infrastructure and innovation and wants to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. He also plans to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Economy: O’Rourke supports the $15 federal minimum wage and a “tax code that gives a break to the middle class.” He also plans to close the pay gap by implementing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
  • Health Care: O’Rourke says he supports “Medicare for America” that would take the current Medicare plan in place for government employees and open it up to the uninsured while keeping private insurance plans as they are.
  • Immigration: O’Rourke is against family separation at the border and plans to increase funding to the asylum system, prevent the deportation of DREAMers, and create a pathway to citizenship.
  • Gun Control: O’Rourke supports universal background checks, closing the “boyfriend” and “gun show” loopholes, passing extreme risk laws, and increasing trauma support.
  • Women’s Rights: O’Rourke is pro-choice and plans to work with Congress to pass legislation that protects the full spectrum of reproductive health care through insurance coverage. He also plans to repeal the Hyde Amendment.


  • Climate Change: Booker plans to invest over $3 trillion by 2030 to shift the U.S. to a carbon-neutral economy and “supercharge innovation and a clean energy workforce” by increasing the funds applied to climate research. He wants to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement and supports the Green New Deal.
  • Economy: Booker plans to implement Rise Credit, which will expand on Earned Income Tax Credit as well as enact “Baby Bonds, a new American birthright to close the wealth gap,” and raise the federal minimum wage to $15, and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
  • Health Care: Booker supports Medicare-for-All and wants to implement universal paid family and medical leave, provide resources for those affected by the opioid crisis, and lower prescription drug costs.
  • Immigration: Booker wants to end family separation at the border and ensure that our immigration system is humane. He also plans to update the asylum process and expand protections for DREAMers.
  • Gun Control: Booker plans to implement gun licensing, pass universal background checks, ban assault weapons, and close loopholes. He also wants to require handgun microstamping, take on the NRA and corporate gun lobby, and limit gun buyers to one handgun per month.
  • Women’s Rights: Booker is pro-choice and plans to create a White House Office of Reproductive Freedom, repeal the Hyde Amendment, guarantee access to employer-provided contraceptive care, and end the domestic gag rule.


  • Climate Change: Klobuchar supports the Green New Deal and has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. Klobuchar plans to re-enter the International Climate Change Agreement and bring back the standards for clean power and gas mileage in place during the Obama Administration.
  • Economy: Klobuchar plans to raise the corporate income tax from 21 to 25 percent to pay for a $650 billion increase in federal spending on infrastructure. She also plans to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • Health Care: Klobuchar sees Medicare-for-All as a future possibility, but instead plans to expand Medicare or Medicaid to include cost-sharing reductions and lowering the price of prescription drugs. She has also called for a $100 billion investment in mental health and substance abuse treatment.
  • Immigration: Klobuchar supports a “comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes the DREAM Act, border security and an accountable pathway to earned citizenship.” Klobuchar also wants to end family separation at the border.
  • Gun Control: Klobuchar supports banning the sale of assault weapons ban, universal background checks, closing the “boyfriend loophole”, and raising the age to buy military-style assault weapons from 18 to 21.
  • Women’s Rights: Klobuchar is pro-choice and believes that southern anti-abortion legislation is a “violation of civil rights.” She has spoken in the past about making abortions “safe and rare.”


  • Climate Change: Yang plans to tax greenhouse gas emissions, as well as using human engineering to cool the planet, investing in “large-scale geo-engineering measures  like shoring up glaciers and reducing solar exposure.”
  • Economy: Yang believes in taxing capital gains like regular income and giving Americans a “Freedom Dividend” of $1,000/month. His idea of human-centered capitalism measures success based less on GDP and more on median income, standard of living, and social/economic mobility.
  • Health Care: Yang supports Medicare-for-All, increasing funding into mental health research, and decriminalizing opioids. He also wants to shift how doctors are compensated “to promote holistic and empathic care.”
  • Immigration: Yang plans on heightening border security and creating a “new tier of long-term permanent residency for anyone who has been here illegally for a substantial amount of time.” He plans to deport any undocumented immigrant who do not enroll in this system.
  • Gun Control: Yang proposes a tiered system for licensing guns similar to the different kinds of drivers’ licenses. Those with semi-automatic weapons or assault rifles would need more rigorous training and more intrusive background checks.
  • Women’s Rights: Yang is in favor of access to abortions, increased access to contraception, and making state abortion laws the responsibility of doctors. He says he will “support a woman’s right to choose in every circumstance.”


  • Climate Change: Steyer’s Justice-Centered Climate Plan will focus on creating a regenerative economy with emphasis on local solutions. He will focus on creating jobs that will neutralize global warming pollution by 2045 with an emphasis on low-income, indigenous, and communities of color.
  • Economy: Steyer plans to expand earned income tax credit, roll back President Trump’s tax cuts, and institute a wealth tax.
  • Health Care: Steyer supports a universal healthcare system, including a “strong public option that aggressively competes with the private insurance marketplace.” He plans to reduce prescription drug costs and eliminate surprise billing.
  • Immigration: Steyer plans to reinstate DACA and TPS programs, “reinvigorate” the visa system to attract the “best and brightest,” and create a path to citizenship.
  • Gun Control: Steyer’s “We Can End Gun Violence” plan will establish universal background checks, ban assault weapons, enact extreme risk laws, close loopholes, and create a new Office of Gun Safety and increase licensing requirements.
  • Women’s Rights: Steyer will fight for full reproductive rights for women, equal pay in the workplace including paid family leave, and equal opportunities in STEM.


  • Climate Change: Gabbard plans to introduce legislation that will bring the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. with the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act. She supports the Green New Deal, though she is concerned with some of its “vague language.”
  • Economy: Gabbard has been vague on her plans to close the wealth gap, but voted against President Trump’s tax breaks for the wealthy and stated in 2017 that our “tax code needs serious reform.”
  • Health Care: Gabbard supports Medicare-for-All, but also believes that Americans should be allowed to remain with their private insurance providers if they choose.
  • Immigration: Gabbard plans to institute humane solutions at the border, supports DACA,  wants to increase funding for the asylum system and create a clear and enforceable pathway to citizenship.
  • Gun Control: Gabbard has advocated for a complete ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. She plans to strengthen the current National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Gabbard is focused on “building bipartisan solutions that can actually be passed into law, rather than using the issue as a partisan political football.”
  • Women’s Rights: Gabbard supports a woman’s right to choose, equal pay for women, though early in her career she was anti-abortion. She has since voted in favor of abortion rights.


  • Climate Change: Castro plans to recommit to the Paris Climate agreement and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. He also wants to establish a National Climate Council and increase investments in research.
  • Economy: Castro plans to introduce a $3,000 child tax credit for working families, increase paychecks up to $9,000/year for working families with his Working Families First tax credit, and raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour.
  • Health Care: Castro supports Medicare-for-All and will allow individuals to opt out if they already have private health insurance. He will also make sure insurance covers mental health as well as physical health, and will invest in rural and low-income communities to make sure they have access to healthcare.
  • Immigration: Castro’s People First immigration policy will break up ICE, create a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers and those with temporary protected status. He also plans to revamp the visa system and end the separation of families at the border. Castro supports the increase in refugee admissions.
  • Gun Control: Castro places the majority of his focus on preventing acts of domestic terrorism by investing in programs to “combat hate.” He also plans to implement universal background checks, close NRA loopholes, and renew a permanent assault weapons ban.
  • Women’s Rights: Castro supports abortion rights, appoint judges who will keep Roe v. Wade in place, advance sex education and access to contraceptives, and end gag rules.