2020 Democratic candidates debate

United States Democratic Party Logo

Emily Sackley

Last week, six Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election qualified for a debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. On Tuesday, February 25, the same six will debate in Charleston, South Carolina. They are Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. 

But who are they and what do they stand for? On the issues of immigration, the environment, education and gun control, here are how the candidates stand.

Photo by David Lienemann
Vice President Joe Biden

Joe Biden

Joe Biden is 77 years old and is from Scranton, Pennsylvania. He formerly served as the Vice President of the United States from 2009-2017. Before his vice presidency, Biden was the Senator of Delaware from 1973 to 2009. He has also been both a public speaker and an author.

As for Joe Biden’s political positions, on the matter of immigration, Biden voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which built additional walls and barriers along the US-Mexico border. In terms of climate change, he has supported the Paris Climate Accords, and “Today, he is outlining a bold plan – a Clean Energy Revolution – to address this grave threat and lead the world in addressing the climate emergency,” according to his website, joebiden.com.

When it comes to education, Biden supports two years of free community college education along with universal kindergarten and preschool. Regarding the Second Amendment, Biden supports stronger gun legislation including universal background checks and the elimination of assault style rifles.

Photo by Bloomberg Philanthropies
Mayor Mike Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg is 77 years old and from Boston, Massachusetts. Bloomberg was previously a Wall Street executive, Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and former three-term Mayor of New York City from 2002-2013.

On the matter of immigration, Bloomberg funded a pro-immigration advocacy group partnership and subsequently wants to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. On mikebloomberg.com, it states, “The grandson of immigrants, Mike believes in the power of the American Dream. Throughout his career, he has been a passionate advocate for welcoming immigrants and fixing the broken immigration system. Immigrants make our country stronger, and Mike is focused on reclaiming America’s role as the beacon of freedom and opportunity for people from around the world.”

Concerning climate change, Bloomberg says he will strive to cut economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030, reduce pollution from buildings and transportation, rejoin the Paris Agreement, and prioritize the fight to prevent wildfires, according to his campaign website. 

On education, he’s fought for charter schools, raised salaries for teachers, and the standards for tenure. Gun control is one of his top priorities, and he consequently supports universal background checks, efforts to limit gun trafficking, and a ban on assault weapons.

Photo by Gage Skidmore
Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaking with supporters at a town hall at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines, Iowa.

Pete Buttigieg 

Pete Buttigieg is 37 years old and is from South Bend, Indiana, where he served as mayor from 2012 until this past January 1st. Buttigieg was previously a consultant for McKinsey & Company from 2007-2010, a US Navy Reserve officer from 2009 to 2017, and went on a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan as a counterintelligence officer.

As for Immigration, he supports DACA and is opposed to the Trump administration’s border wall. Regarding climate change, Buttigieg wants the US to be carbon neutral by 2050 and also wants the US to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. Buttigieg’s plan states, “We must channel all of our energies into a national project—one that unifies every American, from big cities to rural communities, around this urgent threat and seizes the tremendous opportunity for a new era of climate action.”

Buttigieg is also an advocate for debt-free public college for students from lower-income families and tuition-free public college for middle-income students. In terms of gun control, he wants universal background checks.

Official Senate Photo
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar is a 59 year old US senator from Plymouth, Minnesota. Klobuchar was previously a corporate lawyer, partner at Minnesota law firms Dorsey & Whitney and Gray Plant Moody, Hennepin County Attorney from 1999 to 2006.

On immigration, Klobuchar voted for 2013 immigration legislation to provide a path to citizenship to most undocumented immigrants without criminal records. She also wants to fund stronger border security.

On the matter of climate change, Klobuchar has said she wants the US to rejoin the Paris Accords. In September, she argued in favor of carbon pricing, and plans to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. She has also talked about partnering with large meat and dairy corporations to lower their carbon footprint. According to amyklobuchar.com, “Amy is deeply committed to tackling the climate crisis and believes that it is an urgent priority for our communities, for our economy and for our planet. She is a co-sponsor of a Green New Deal and has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.”

While Klobuchar doesn’t support free, four-year college for all, she supports the reduction of student debt. As for gun control legislation, she supports universal background checks, the banning of assault rifles, and law enforcement to remove guns from people that pose a threat.

Photo by Gage Skidmore
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is 78 years old and is from Burlington, Vermont. He was previously Mayor of Burlington from 1981-1989, and a member of the US House of Representatives from Vermont during the years of 1991-2007. He is currently US Senator for Vermont..

On the subject of immigration, Sanders wants to offer a pathway to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants. With respect to climate change, he is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, which according to berniesanders.com, would “transform our energy system to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million jobs needed to solve the climate crisis.”

Sanders supports making public colleges and universities tuition free for undergrads. Concerning gun safety, he supports universal background checks, but his past voting record shows that he has not always supported more restrictive gun control measures.

Official portrait 114th Congress
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren is 70 years old and from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She is currently the US Senator from Massachusetts. Warren was previously advisor to President Obama on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 2010-2011, the Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) from 2008-2010, and a tenured law professor at Harvard Law School from 1993 to 2013.

Regarding Immigration, Warren supports the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protects young people who came to the US illegally as children and supports the decriminalization of unauthorized border crossings. In the matter of climate change, Warren has signed on to the Green New Deal resolution.

Concerning education, she has introduced several bills to aid student loan borrowers. She supported a proposal, introduced by her Senate colleague, Brian Schatz, to make room, board and other expenses loan-free for students attending public colleges. According to warren.senate.gov, “Through her oversight work, she has successfully overturned rules that harm consumers and students.” On the issue of gun control, Warren co-sponsored a ban on assault weapons