The first debates in the Democratic presidential primary ahead of the 2020 election have now finished — and one of the candidates claims that organizers took active steps to limit his involvement. Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang first claimed during a get-together with supporters following his time on stage that he would have offered more but he found that his microphone did not seem to be on, claiming to have been speaking without anything happening. He ended up with the least speaking time of anyone on the stage for the second night of the two-night event, only talking for about three minutes.
As he put it:
‘There were also a few times, FYI, where I just started talking, being like, ‘Hey I’d like to add something there,’ and my mic was not on. It’s not like if you start talking it all of a sudden takes over the convo. It’s like I was talking and nothing was happening.’
— PJ McCartney (@pjmccartney) June 28, 2019
NBC — who hosted the debate along with MSNBC and Telemundo — flatly denies that Yang’s microphone was cut off or that any candidate’s mic was ever off at all, although they did have other technical difficulties and might just be trying to save face. During the first debate night, the event had to go to a minutes-long break after getting ready to keep going only to find background noise from some microphones being inappropriately left on.
The morning after Yang’s debate appearance, he re-upped his claim about being “mechanically restricted” by the organizers and pledged to “do better” in July, when the candidates next debate under the apparent same rules of access that allowed candidates to be featured on stage this time around.
During the time that he did get to speak, Yang defended his key policy proposal to deliver $1,000 a month to every American 18 years or older, which he claims is imperative in the face of the rising technological revolution in which more and more jobs will be threatened, a theme that Donald Trump has consistently tapped into to build support for his own platform. Yang claimed that the large payments could be covered by items like a new Value Added Tax that’s not even at the level that European countries currently collect on the amounts of value added to consumer goods.
He’s not the only outsider candidate who jockeyed for time during these first debates. Self-help author Marianne Williamson was on stage alongside him and did not get called on for at least almost the entire first half-hour of the only two hour event. Along with California Congressman Eric Swalwell (who for some reason repeatedly criticized fellow candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden’s age) and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Williamson spoke for a total of about five minutes.
Leading the pack that second night were perhaps unsurprising names, including Biden who spoke for just over 13 minutes, California Senator Kamala Harris who spoke for just over 12 minutes including a diatribe in which she hammered Biden over his supposed shaky approach to race relations, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who spoke for about 11 minutes.
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