In the opening moments of Wednesday night’s first Democratic debate, it was clear where the spotlight was: on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the highest-polling candidate of the 10 presidential hopefuls on stage in Miami.
The debate’s moderators directed four questions to Warren in the first 20 minutes, more than any other candidate, and those questions touched at the heart of her policy agenda — the economy, income inequality, and sweeping change to the nation’s health care system.
That gave Warren an opportunity to get at the heart of her stump speech from the get-go. “We need to make structural change in our government and our economy and in our country,” she said to wrap up the debate’s first answer, to applause.
The rest of the field found themselves chasing Warren’s agenda, too, illustrating just how much the liberal senator has set the policy framework of the crowded 2020 primary.
The first question, for example, directed to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was framed as a response to an idea championed by Warren: breaking up Facebook, Amazon, and Google, something Booker has criticized.
“Why do you disagree?” he was asked.
In recent weeks, Warren has surged to the top tier of the two dozen-strong field of Democrats after a shaky first stretch in the race. Several polls have shown her trailing only former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) nationally and in key states, even surpassing Sanders in some surveys.