Elizabeth Warren repeatedly came under attack during the Democratic presidential debate as rivals accused the Massachusetts senator of ducking questions about the cost of Medicare for All and her signature wealth tax plan in an attempt to derail her rising campaign.
The pile-on Tuesday reinforced her new status as a front-runner in the contest to take on President Donald Trump next year. With first state primaries rapidly approaching, her many challengers have dwindling opportunities to emerge as powerful alternatives to the progressive agenda she's championing.
The night's confrontations were mostly fought on familiar terrain for the Democrats, who have spent months sparring over the future of health care with former Vice President Joe Biden and other moderates pressing for a measured approach while Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders call for a dramatic, government-funded overhaul of the insurance market. Still, unlike Sanders, Warren refused to say whether she would raise taxes on the middle class to pay for a Medicare for All universal health insurance plan - a stance that's increasingly difficult to maintain given her more prominent status.
Featuring a dozen candidates, the debate, sponsored by CNN and The New York Times and held in Ohio, was the largest in modern history. It was the first time the White House hopefuls gathered in a little more than a month. In that time, the political landscape has changed with Trump facing an impeachment inquiry in the House centered on his quest to get Ukraine to dig up unflattering details about Biden, another front-runner among the Democrats hoping to unseat the Republican president. Also debating were New York entrepreneur Andrew Yang, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Obama housing chief Julián Castro and billionaire activist Tom Steyer.
With files from the Associated Press
Nomiki Konst, former member of the DNC Unity Reform Commission, which worked to increase participation in the Democratic Party and reform the presidential primary process; former Bernie Sanders surrogate in 2016; she tweets @NomikiKonst
Sean T. Walsh, Republican political analyst and partner at Wilson Walsh Consulting in San Francisco; he is a former adviser to California Governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger and a former White House staffer for Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush