Harris and Swalwell target Biden in second debate night

 Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

June 28, 2019: Kamala Harris and Eric Swalwell challenged Joe Biden during the second debate night. Donald Trump traveled to Japan for the G20 economic summit.

Each Friday, we’ll highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.

Juan Rodriguez was Kamala Harris‘ (D) campaign manager for her U.S. Senaterun in 2016. He earlier worked in California state government.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Kamala Harris U.S. Senate campaign, campaign manager

Other experience:

  • 2013-2015: Office of Attorney General Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), senior advisor
  • 2009-2013: Office of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), director of state relations

What he says about Harris:

“This is a campaign powered by the people, focused on making health care a right, putting $500 a month in the pockets of working Americans, and giving every public school teacher in America a raise. We’re excited by the support we’re already seeing.”

Notable Quote of the Day

“Democrats above all seek electability. But this debate is a good reminder that electability comes in many forms — and the ideal candidate in one election may not be the most electable candidate in another. In 2004, as John Sides has pointed out, the Democrats thought that they needed to speak to religious voters — but that’s not how Obama won. In 2012, the Republicans thought that they needed to speak to Latinx voters — but again, that’s not how Trump won.”

– Dan Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania professor of political science

Debate Highlights

  • Michael Bennet condemned Citizens United and gerrymandering. He also shared the story of his mother’s separation from her family in Poland during World War II while discussing his involvement in the bipartisan Gang of Eight immigration legislation and family separations.
  • Joe Biden defended his record on civil rights and school integration after Harris said he had worked with segregationists to oppose busing. He also said he could work with Republicans, pointing to a 2012 deal with Mitch McConnell on taxes.
  • Pete Buttigieg said he had been unable to diversify South Bend’s police force and that systemic racism in policing needed to be addressed. He also said there was a tension between Christian values and family separations at the border.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand said that “women’s reproductive rights are under assault” by the Republican Party and abortion policies created by compromise, like the Hyde Amendment, were unacceptable. She also said she supported a buy-in transition period before adopting a Medicare for All system.
  • Kamala Harris criticized Biden’s record on busing and shared she was in the second class to integrate at her public school in California. She also opposed the Obama administration’s deportation policy, saying it affected the immigrant community’s ability to reach out to law enforcement.
  • John Hickenlooper said Democrats needed to make clear they are not socialists. He said he supported the mission of the Green New Deal but opposed its job guarantee. On immigration, Hickenlooper said the Trump administration’s family separation policy was tantamount to kidnapping.
  • Bernie Sanders said that under his policies, the middle class would pay more in taxes but less in healthcare and education. He also opposed court packing, called for rotating judges, and said that support for Roe v. Wade would be a litmus test for his federal judicial nominees
  • Eric Swalwell quoted Biden to say that political leadership should pass to a new generation, particularly on issues of automation and climate change.
  • Marianne Williamson said the discussion around healthcare needed to address the underlying causes of chronic illness, including pharmaceutical and environmental policies. She also directly challenged Trump, saying she would “harness love for political purposes.”
  • Andrew Yang said Russia was the greatest geopolitical threat and that Chinese intellectual property theft and should not be addressed through tariffs. He said the first international relationship he would reset would be China to seek cooperation on climate change, AI, and North Korea.


  • After touring a facility housing migrant children in Homestead, Florida, Bill de Blasio said it looked like a prison camp and called for an end to family separations.
  • Cory Booker introduced the Remove Marijuana from Deportable Offenses Act Thursday, which would remove marijuana use and activities from the list of offenses making an immigrant deportable or ineligible for citizenship. 
  • Steve Bullock appeared on WMUR’s “Conversation with the Candidate” series in New Hampshire.
  • Julián Castro discussed his plan to decriminalize border crossings in an interview on The View.
  • During an interview on Fox News, John Delaney criticized Medicare for All and said Democrats would lose the election if they nominate a candidate pushing the policy.
  • Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that she had more than 85,000 donors, roughly 45,000 donors away from the fundraising threshold for the third debate.
  • Jay Inslee renewed his calls for a debate focused solely on climate change, saying the first debate showed it would not be properly highlighted.
  • Wayne Messam supported striking workers at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport Thursday morning.
  • Seth Moulton will campaign in New Hampshire over the weekend, including attending the Nashua Pride Festival.
  • Beto O’Rourke spoke with top donors and bundlers Thursday about his debate performance and how to improve in July.
  • Elizabeth Warren, along with Bidende Blasio, and Buttigieg, will speak at the Rainbow PUSH Convention in Chicago this weekend.


  • Donald Trump arrived in Japan for the G20 summit where tariffs, the global economy, climate change, oil markets, and marine plastic waste are expected to be discussed.
  • Bill Weld tweeted that he was looking forward to debating TrumpNo incumbent president has participated in a primary debate and the Republican National Committee disbanded the party’s debate committee in 2018.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: June 28, 2015

CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Donald Trump about NAFTA, the U.S.-Mexico border, and same-sex marriage.