Dubbed as just a “conversation”, this afternoon, State Senator Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles) and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco) faced off in their first and only debate. Hosted and moderated by PPIC President Mark Baldisseri, a plethora of topics were covered during the Democrat-on-Democrat discussion which lasted about 60 minutes at the Bechtel Conference Center in San Francisco.
Baldassare kicked off the event by diving directly into each candidate’s 3 main focus points if elected to the U.S. Senate. De León was quick to jump at the question and demonstrated to be a lengthy talker as he remained fixed on the topic for quite some time. A trait he would continue to exhibit throughout the dialogue. He concentrated on issues such as Medicare for all, climate change and immigration, all familiar issues he has been campaigning on since day one. He explained his belief that Medicare should be a human right while expressing some dissatisfaction that right now it is only reserved for some. He also illustrated an emotional story of his past relating to immigration and how difficult it was for his mother to come here as an undocumented person.
Despite not appearing in a debate in over 10 years, the veteran Feinstein showed no signs of hesitation. Also pointing out immigration as one of her main policy pinnacles, when asked about a poll that casted 85 percent of Americans being in support of a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, she stated “There is a real need for a major immigrant bill” before adding “I’m lead Democrat of the Judiciary Committee.. If we are in the majority (next term) there will be a complete reform plan brought before our committee.” De León responded to the same question with a less policy focused response and instead exemplified another emotional story of one of his constituents who was stopped by police with his family and “dehumanized” in front of them. “We need to do something real about this… there is nothing being done in Washington”, stated De León.
When De León’s handling of past sexual assault allegations during his time as State Senate Pro Tem were brought up, there was a slight moment in the audience where the crowd was seemingly in shock that the highly contentious topic was raised. Although the candidate handled it well stating, “I worked very closely with the women from the California State Senate and together we moved forward with the most comprehensive plan in the state senate history.” However, critics would say this is a far cry from what actually happened.
After getting through the uncomfortable question, Feinstein was next on the chopping block. Most likely experiencing a flash back from the Kavanaugh hearing just two weeks ago, she was asked if her handling of Ford’s letter was indeed kept confidential or if she might have made a mistake. The incumbent was short in explaining that everything she had been involved with was kept completely confidential.
Finally, the “issue” of President Trump was brought about which surely couldn’t be left untapped in one of the most liberal states in the country. There were many questions involving Trump, including “What are the areas in which you feel most strongly you should resist” under this Administration? Following a brief laugh from the audience, Feinstein and De León both agreed that the most important battle they need to wage war on is immigration. Feinstein referred back to her senate leadership experience affirming “the big area that comes to me is immigration. I do not believe in the separation of children from their parents. If we have a majority in the senate that bill will get passed.” Surprisingly, Feinstein did give Trump some credit for his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un explaining how she is delighted with how the nuclear missile de-escalation is going.
Before ending the question and answer forum, one last Trump inquiry was examined. If elected to the senate “will you move forward with impeachment?” This question seemed to excite De León as he said “from day one I would move forward with impeachment… the issue is illegal standard, does he meet the legal standard for impeachment? He makes Richard Nixon look like a choir boy!” It should be noted that De León failed to identify any specific legal wrongdoings in his response. As for Feinstein, she did not comment on moving forward with impeachment.
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