Sanders and Warren defend progressive policies against attacks in U.S. Democratic debate

DETROIT (Reuters) - Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders offered an unabashed defense of their progressive policies during a Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, as their more moderate rivals criticized their proposals as unrealistic and politically untenable.

The debate frequently pitted the two U.S. senators against the other eight candidates on stage, with healthcare and immigration policy highlighting the divisions between the two camps.

On the first night of back-to-back debates, Democrats were united in stressing the urgency of defeating Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election. But they delivered bruising critiques of their party rivals’ positions as detailed policy disagreements dominated the nearly three-hour event.

The dispute between the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic Party highlighted the central question of the nominating contest: Which candidate in the field of more than two dozen would be best positioned to beat Trump next year?

The moderate wing, led at times by Montana Governor Steve Bullock, argued Democrats risk losing voters after moving too far to the left in the opening debate last month in Miami.

“Watching that last debate, folks seemed more concerned about scoring points or outdoing each other with wish-list economics than making sure Americans know we hear their voices and will help their lives,” said Bullock, who emerged as a forceful voice in his first presidential debate.

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