Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and former Vice President Joe Biden greet each other Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Latest: Biden says 'I'm for Barack' at Democratic debate

September 12, 2019 - 8:36 pm

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on the Democratic presidential debate (all times local):

7:35 p.m.

Joe Biden is evoking former President Barack Obama and his signature policy achievement as a contrast to rivals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Biden said Thursday during the third Democratic debate: "I know the senator says she's for Bernie. Well, I'm for Barack."

Biden is committing to building on the Affordable Care Act with a public option, while both Warren and Sanders have championed the farther-reaching "Medicare for All" policy goal.

Warren says "We all owe a huge debt to President Obama" because he "fundamentally transformed health care in America." The Massachusetts senator, like Sanders, believes Medicare for All is the better way to move forward.

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7:25 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke claims the perpetrator of last month's mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, was "inspired to kill by our president."

O'Rourke made the comment during his opening statement in the Democratic debate Thursday.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh replied on Twitter that O'Rourke is "as desperate as he can be."

The shooter killed 22 people, many of them Latino, at a Walmart store on Aug. 3 and is believed to have written a manifesto expressing racist and anti-immigrant sentiments. The author of the manifesto insisted his opinions "predate Trump and his campaign for president."

But the words echoed some of the views Trump has expressed on immigration, Democrats and the media.

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7:15 p.m.

Businessman Andrew Yang is announcing plans to give away $1,000 a month to 10 families over the next year as part of his effort to prove the efficacy of his universal basic income campaign proposal.

Yang said during Tuesday night's Democratic primary debate that he will randomly choose 10 families to receive $12,000 over the next year that will come from his campaign funds. If elected president, Yang has proposed what he calls a "Freedom Dividend," which would give every citizen 18 and older $1,000 each month, something Yang says would address poverty and help Americans cover basic needs.

He has already started distributing funds to two families in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as another family in Florida that was selected via Twitter.

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7:05 p.m.

The third debate of the Democratic presidential primary is underway with the top candidates sharing the debate stage for the first time.

Ten hopefuls are meeting Thursday in Houston. Former Vice President Joe Biden is at center stage along with two of his closest rivals, progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The three have not been on stage together during previous debates, which were split over two nights. Tougher requirements to qualify for the debate stage winnowed the number of candidates this time, resulting in a one-night debate.

Also debating are Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (BOO'-tuh-juhj), former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and businessman Andrew Yang.

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5:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is weighing in on the Democratic primary field hours before his would-be opponents face off on the debate stage in Houston.

Trump said Thursday that he thinks he'll face former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Sen. Bernie Sanders next year. He says, "It's going to be one of those three."

Trump says he's going to catch up on the Democratic debate once he returns from Baltimore, where he is traveling to address congressional Republicans on Thursday evening.

He says, "It's going to be very interesting. I'm going to have to watch it as a rerun."

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11:50 a.m.

Just hours before Thursday night's debate in Houston, former Vice President Joe Biden went up with a digital ad aimed at deflecting criticism of President Barack Obama's administration.

Biden is shown saying in footage from a campaign event that Obama "was a president our children could and did look up to." Biden says he was "proud to serve as his vice president, but never more proud than the day we passed health care."

Other Obama administration accomplishments appear on-screen, including "protected dreamers" and "led on marriage equality."

After a debate earlier this summer in Detroit, Biden said he was "a little surprised" at the flak he took from fellow Democrats about Obama's legacy, pushing back against criticism of the Affordable Care Act and Obama-era immigration policy.

Some Democrats in early voting states like South Carolina, which holds the first primary vote in the South next year, have listed Biden's proximity to Obama as among their top reasons for supporting him.

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8:35 a.m.

The top Democratic presidential contenders will finally be on one debate stage Thursday in Houston as Joe Biden tries to solidify his early lead over Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg (BOO'-tuh-juhj) will look to reclaim some lost momentum.

The ABC News debate has 10 candidates altogether and will air on a broadcast network with a post-Labor Day uptick in interest in the race. That could give candidates their largest audience yet as the campaigning heads into the fall.

It's also the first time Warren and Biden will appear on the same stage.

But the campaigns say that doesn't necessarily mean the three-hour debate will end up being a direct clash between the progressive Massachusetts senator and the more centrist former vice president.

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