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'Racist,' 'liar,' 'horrible': Second Democratic debate kicks off with early attacks on Trump

Key Points
  • The top Democratic candidates in the 2020 presidential race wasted little time in their first primary debate before taking heavy swings at President Donald Trump.
  • The early attacks represented a stark rhetorical shift from the previous night, when 10 other Democratic candidates focused more of their energy on laying out their policy visions early on. 
  • Political analysts had widely expected the Democrats to hammer the Republican president throughout both nights, along with Biden, who has maintained a commanding lead in the polls despite being by far the biggest target in the Democratic field.
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I would eliminate Donald Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy: Joe Biden

The top Democratic candidates in the 2020 presidential race wasted little time in their first primary debate before taking heavy swings at President Donald Trump.

Vice President Joe Biden said that "Donald Trump put us in a horrible situation." Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called Trump a "pathological liar" and "a racist." California Sen. Kamala Harris slammed Trump's signature tax cuts as a boon for "the top 1%."

And that was just in the first 10 minutes.

The early attacks represented a stark rhetorical shift from the previous night, when 10 other Democratic candidates — who on average were less popular than the Thursday night group — focused more of their energy on laying out their policy visions early on.

Political analysts had widely expected the Democrats to hammer the Republican president throughout both nights, along with Biden, who has maintained a commanding lead in the polls despite being by far the biggest target in the Democratic field.

But that wasn't the case for much of the first half of Wednesday night's debate — and Trump, who was traveling to Japan for the G-20 summit, appeared to take notice.

Overall, Trump played a significantly larger role in the second primary debate than the first, NBC News reported. Trump was mentioned 52 times Thursday night, compared with 35 mentions during Wednesday's debate.

Biden, unsurprisingly, focused on Trump more than any other candidate. The former veep entered the 2020 contest as the top-polling candidate, and he has attacked Trump directly since day one.