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Monday May 25th, 2020 1:56PM

The Latest: Gabbard criticizes Clinton, Democratic ‘rot’

By The Associated Press
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the Democratic presidential debate (all times local):

10 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has criticized 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, prompting a sharp back-and-forth with Sen. Kamala Harris.

The congresswoman from Hawaii and California senator are among 10 Democratic candidates debating Wednesday night in Atlanta.

Gabbard doubled down on earlier comments that Clinton represents the “personification of the rot in the Democratic Party.” She says the party is influenced by a “foreign policy establishment” that supports regime-change wars. She calls it the “Bush, Clinton, Trump foreign policy doctrine.”

Harris responded by saying it’s unfortunate to have a candidate on stage who criticizes President Barack Obama on Fox News, “buddied up” to Trump adviser Steve Bannon to get a meeting with Trump and wouldn’t call out a war criminal.

Gabbard accuses Harris of “smears and innuendo.”

___

9:45 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is continuing to push for modifications to Obama-era health care reforms over the holistic “Medicare for all” proposals from two of his Democratic presidential rivals.

In Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, Biden argued that voters are hesitant to make the transformative, government-backed changes pushed by candidates including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Biden says he doesn’t want to force anyone to give up private health insurance.

Warren says that she wants to “bring as many people in and get as much help to the American people as fast as we can.”

When questioning came to Sanders, he responded: “Thank you, I wrote the damn bill.”

___

9:35 p.m.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is disagreeing with the wealth tax proposed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as they join other Democratic presidential candidates for a debate Wednesday night.

Booker says Warren’s proposal “is cumbersome,” has failed in other countries and would stunt economic growth in blighted urban areas.

Warren has proposed raising taxes by 2 cents on wealth over $50 million to finance a host of programs including universal preschool and higher teacher pay.

Warren, who has come under attack recently for the proposal, called her policy “transformative.”

Booker is fighting to break out in the debate, hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, in part because he has not yet qualified, by fundraising and polling criteria, for the December debate.

___

9:15 p.m.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is challenging her Democratic presidential rivals to promise they won't give ambassador posts to campaign donors.

Warren's comments kicked off the Democratic presidential debate in response to a question about the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

She says Gordon Sondland, the president's ambassador to the European Union and a central figure in the proceedings, is not qualified for the job and his appointment is evidence of corruption in Washington.

Sondland gave more than $1 million to President Donald Trump's inaugural committee. Sondland testified before Congress on Wednesday.

Warren says none of her Democratic rivals has agreed with her pledge to block donors from getting ambassador posts.

___

9 p.m.

Pete Buttigieg’s dramatic rise in the Democratic race for president makes him a prime target at Wednesday night’s debate.

The candidates bunched at the front of the pack are seeking to distinguish themselves on the debate stage in Atlanta with just three months until 2020 presidential voting begins.

The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has gained significant ground in recent months in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first caucuses on Feb. 3. But with top-tier status comes added scrutiny, as the other front-runners discovered in four previous debates throughout the summer and fall.

___

1: 15 p.m.

Four Democrats jumbled at the top of the party’s presidential primary are looking to begin separating themselves in the final debate before Thanksgiving begins sapping voters’ attention.

And that may mean sharpest criticism for the one with the most-recent rise, Pete Buttigieg.

The 37-year old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has gained significant ground recently. But with top-tier status comes added scrutiny, as the other front-runners discovered in four previous debates throughout the summer and fall.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont all faced attacks previously.

The pressure will be on Wednesday night in Atlanta for Buttigieg to demonstrate he can woo black voters and that running a city of only about 100,000 residents qualifies him to be president.

___

Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “ Ground Game.”

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