Updated at 11:30 p.m. ET on June 27, 2019.
Joe Biden is the current front-runner of the Democratic Party. He’s leading all other primary candidates, in several polls, by double digits. And many party strategists believe that the working-class-whispering former vice president is the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump.
But at tonight’s Democratic primary debate, many of the questions posed—and some of the most heated moments—involved the candidate both physically and politically to Biden’s left: Bernie Sanders.
In one of the first exchanges of the night, the moderators cited Sanders’s affiliation with the Democratic Socialists of America, and asked former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper whether the Democratic Party is veering toward socialism. Hickenlooper replied by criticizing two policy proposals that Sanders has famously championed: Medicare for All, which would usher in a government-run health-care system, and the Green New Deal, the ambitious blueprint to combat climate change. The moderate Hickenlooper, who took heat earlier this year for declining to call himself a capitalist, called for the candidates to more clearly communicate that “we,” meaning the Democrats, “are not socialists.” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York cut in too, trying to assure viewers that the current debate within the party is not about socialism, but “between capitalism on the one hand and greed on the other.”