Democrats clash on fundraising, tax policy in sixth primary debate

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
December 20, 2019: Seven Democratic presidential candidates debated Thursday night in Los Angeles. Cory Booker and Julián Castro aired ads during the debate.        

Each Friday, we highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.
Daily Presidential News Briefing, Staffer Spotlight - Symone Sanders

Symone Sanders is a Democratic staffer with experience in political communication. She worked as national press secretary on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and has contributed to several news outlets. She graduated from Creighton University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, national press secretary
  • 2015 Michael Futrell (D-Va.) House of Delegates campaign, communications director
  • 2014 Chuck Hassebrook (D-Nebr.) gubernatorial campaign, deputy communications director

Other experience:

  • 2017-present: 360 Group LLC, principal
  • 2018: Harvard Institute of Politics, resident fellow
  • 2017-2019: Priorities USA, communications and political outreach strategist
  • 2014-2015: Global Trade Watch, state director

What she says about Biden:

“I feel like this there’s a misconception that he doesn’t get it, that he’s out of touch, and I’m confused about how someone who can be so much about relationships, so much about meeting people where they are, can also be out of touch with the moment that we’re in. He’s absolutely not out of touch. I think he’s laser-focused and has a clear idea about how he thinks we get America back on track.”

Notable Quote of the Day

“The single most important divide on the debate stage—and within the Democratic electorate—is whether Trump is the disease or merely a symptom of something much more troubling.

Candidates like Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar are making an implicit argument that Trump is an aberration and simply getting past him should be our primary goal. Meanwhile, Warren and Sanders (and, to a lesser extent, Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer) see Trump as the natural outgrowth of decades of curdled economic and social developments.”

– Dan Lavoie, progressive communications strategist

Debate Night

Seven Democratic presidential candidates debated Thursday night in Los Angeles: Joe BidenPete ButtigiegAmy KlobucharBernie SandersTom SteyerElizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang.

The candidates discussed impeachment, trade, climate change, fundraising, race, foreign policy, immigration, electability, education, and healthcare. Sanders had the most speaking time at 20 minutes. Yang spoke the least at 10.8 minutes.

For highlights from the debate for each candidate, click here.


  • Michael Bennet will campaign in New Hampshire on Saturday with stops in Enfield, Sunapee, Franklin, and Bedford. He announced on Thursday that he will begin allowing the press to attend his private fundraisers.
  • Michael Bloomberg issued his healthcare proposal on Thursday, which includes a Medicare-like public option, tax credits for households with high insurance premiums, and a permanent federal reinsurance program for the market.
  • Cory Booker aired a new ad during the debate in 22 markets nationwide as part of a $500,000 ad buy.
  • Julián Castro aired an ad during the debate criticizing Iowa and New Hampshire’s early primary placement.
  • The Tulsi Gabbard campaign held a debate night event in New Hampshire, which Gabbard attended by livestream.
  • Klobuchar will begin a bus tour of Iowa on Friday, visiting 27 counties over four days.
  • Deval Patrick will hold town halls in New Hampshire on Sunday.
  • Sanders will campaign in California on Friday and Saturday, holding town halls and rallies in Moreno Valley, San Diego, and Venice. People’s Action, a coalition of 40 progressive groups with 1 million members, endorsed Sanders.
  • Zack Davis, Kamala Harris’ former Iowa senior adviser, joined Steyer’s campaign as a senior adviser for battleground states.
  • Warren will hold a town hall and community conversation in Iowa on Saturday.


  • Cheddar interviewed Donald Trump director of strategic communications Michael Shure about Trump’s re-election strategy.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: December 20, 2015

In a poll of Iowa Republicans released on CBS News, Ted Cruz led Donald Trump 40 percent to 31 percent. In New Hampshire, however, Trump led the field with 32 percent. Cruz and Marco Rubio followed with 14 percent and 13 percent.

Click here to learn more.