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DianeBentleyRaymond/iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- Officials from the Trump administration have met with local agencies and advocates in Los Angeles about the federal government getting more involved in assisting with the homelessness crisis in the state.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday his administration has warned officials in Los Angeles and other cities in California to "clean it up."

Speaking at a GOP lawmaker retreat in Baltimore -- a city he said earlier this summer was "rat and rodent infested" -- Trump claimed businesses are leaving Democratic-controlled cities.

"We're going to fight for the future of cities like Baltimore that have been destroyed by decades of failed and corrupt rule," the president said. "These are our great American cities, and they're an embarrassment."

Trump has made it a campaign issue, saying in August at a Make America Great Again rally in Ohio: "Nearly half of all the homeless people living in the streets in America happen to live in the state of California. What they are doing to our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country. It's a shame the world is looking at it. Look at Los Angeles with the tents and the horrible, horrible disgusting conditions. Look at San Francisco. Look at some of your other cities."

A White House official confirmed there was an administration team on the ground in California this week on a fact-finding mission about the homelessness crisis but didn’t elaborate on specific options being discussed.

"Like many Americans, the President has taken notice of the homelessness crisis, particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies of overregulation, excessive taxation, and poor public service delivery are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. "In June, the President took action and signed an Executive Order to confront the regulatory barriers to affordable housing development, a leading cause of homelessness. President Trump has directed his team to go further and develop a range of policy options for consideration to deal with this tragedy."

"The spike in homelessness we are seeing in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco is alarming," A HUD spokesperson said in a statement. "While there are many state and local issues at play here, we’re looking at a range of options available to us at HUD -- as well as other agencies -- for possible federal action, if and where appropriate."

The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that Trump ordered aides to launch a "sweeping effort" to combat homelessness in California cities, which could include plans to force people out of tents and camps and direct them into unused government facilities.

The Los Angeles Times also reported officials met with law enforcement unions in the city a discussed a range of issues including options to increase law enforcement involvement.

The White House statement seems to shift partial blame for the problem on local policies. In a letter to Trump, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he welcomes increased attention to the issue of homelessness but that a lack of resources and support on the federal level is also part of the problem.

"It is clear that no local government, including ours, can address homelessness on our own," Garcetti said in the letter. "For many years, the federal government has woefully underfunded our housing safety net, contributing to homelessness. The federal government cut HUD funding for the production of new housing and preservation by 31% for the 2016-2018 time period, and according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, only one in four low-income families who qualify for housing assistance actually receive it. This pressure is acutely felt here in Los Angeles, where 36,000 people experience homelessness on any given night."

Affordable housing and homelessness advocacy groups like the National Low Income Housing Coalition said the most significant step the administration could take would be to fund existing programs focused on ending homelessness and stop proposing cuts to the budget for those programs at HUD and the Interagency Council on Homelessness.

"The solution to homelessness is affordable homes -- not criminalization, not punishing poor people for being poor, not sweeping homeless people into increasingly unsafe areas, and not warehousing people in untenable and unsustainable conditions," NLIHC president and CEO Diane Yentel said in a statement.

"Homelessness in California is a crisis, as it is in many other areas of the country," she added, "and it demands action from federal, state and local government. But Trump and his administration are not acting in good faith to solve for it -- they’ve worked time and again over the last two years to worsen the housing and homelessness crisis and this latest effort looks to be no different."

Advocates also have said that uncertainty around federal grant programs during shutdowns and the federal budget process also can make the private housing sector less willing to work with nonprofits on affordable housing, creating additional challenges.

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Gwengoat/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- A hand-drawn swastika was discovered inside an office building at the Department of Homeland Security Nebraska Avenue Complex, a source confirmed to ABC News on Saturday.

The hand-drawn image was removed and the matter was referred to the Office of Inspector General and the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

"This display of hate and cowardice does not represent the dedicated hardworking men and women of the Department of Homeland Security," Andrew Meehan, acting assistant secretary for public affairs for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement provided to ABC News.

"It has no place in an organization that works tirelessly to protect the American people and combat hate in all its forms," he added. The situation "is currently being investigated to ensure that swift and corrective action is taken."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A political advertisement during a commercial break in Thursday night's Democratic debate, hosted by ABC News and Univision, caused an uproar for disturbing content that showed progressive icon Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being consumed by fire, followed by a black-and-white image of skeletons in an apparent reference to Cambodia's Khmer Rouge genocide in the 1970s.

The controversial ad, placed on several local ABC stations but not across the network, was paid for by a Republican super PAC called New Faces GOP.

The ad's narrator featured the executive director of the outside group behind the ad, Elizabeth Heng, who says: "Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know the horror of socialism? My father was minutes from death in Cambodia before a forced marriage saved his life. ... Mine is a face of freedom. My skin is not white, I'm not outrageous, racist nor socialist. I'm a Republican."

Heng formed the group in March following her unsuccessful bid in 2018 for a seat in California's 16th Congressional District, losing to Democratic Rep. Jim Costa by 15 percentage points.

She began her political career by working for the Oregon Republican Party in 2010. She later worked under Congressman Ed Royce, R-Calif., as a press and legislative assistant before taking on the role of his deputy campaign manager in 2012. Heng also worked for the U.S. House's Foreign Affairs Committee from 2013 to 2017 before she launched her congressional bid.

Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman New York lawmaker, initially responded to the provocative ad Thursday night by tweeting: "Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they aren't racist. Life is weird!"

She later followed up with another tweet, condemning it further: "Know that this wasn't an ad for young conservatives of color - that was the pretense. What you just watched was a love letter to the GOP's white supremacist case."

Heng, the daughter Cambodian refugees, invoked rhetoric frequently used by President Donald Trump on the campaign trail, calling Democrats in Washington "radical liberals" in a statement Friday.

Ahead of Thursday's debate, the Trump campaign unleashed an ad blitz that included buying two full-page newspaper ads and flying a massive banner in the air that criticized socialism just before the debate began.

Painting Democrats as socialists is routine for the president's reelection team, which has argued the entire opposition field is radical leftists.

But Heng went further in her statement, arguing that "in reality socialism is forced obedience, conformity, and blind allegiance that leads to a tyrannical State. Socialism represents the exact opposite of the values and freedoms on which our nation was built."

Heng's New Faces GOP PAC has raised about $170,000 so far this year, according to its most recent FEC filing. FEC reports show it's funded by a seemingly random group of GOP donors from across the country, including Trump donor Andrew Sabin.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump confirmed the death of Hamza Bin Laden, son of the 9/11 terrorist mastermind and al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, marking the first time the White House is confirming his death since it was initially reported earlier this summer.

"The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," said President Trump in a White House statement. "Hamza bin Laden was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups."

Bin Laden was killed in a United States counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

His death was first reported by senior U.S. officials back in July.

Hamza bin Laden is believed to have been killed during a joint raid by American and Afghan Special Forces, according to an Afghan intelligence source. Bin Laden wasn’t the target of the raid, but was caught in the compound as they conducted a raid for someone else.

After the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan in 2011, Hamza bin Laden later emerged as a "key leader" in the terrorist organization, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. government said a letter found in the elder bin Laden’s compound during the Navy SEAL raid “indicat[ed] that he was grooming Hamza to replace him as leader" of al-Qaeda .

In February, the U.S. State Department announced a $1 million reward for information leading to bin Laden’s capture and accused him of "threatening attacks against the United States in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by U.S. military forces."

"Hamza was both the biological and ideological heir to his father,” said Tom Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“Al-Qaida counted on him to speak to a new generation of jihadists," he said.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Despite previous warnings, the State Department is still not doing enough to ensure the safety of bomb-sniffing dogs that it provides to partner countries for counter-terrorism, resulting in poor conditions, mistreatment, and sometimes death, according to a watchdog report.

"While dogs in the [Explosive Detection Canines Program] are tools used to combat terrorism, they are also living creatures that deserve appropriate attention to their safety and well-being," the department's inspector general said in a new report. But some countries, in particular Jordan, have not been providing proper care.

What's worse, according to the inspector general, is that the State Department failed to provide enough oversight despite previous issues. At least 10 dogs died while others lived in "unhealthy conditions" in Jordan's care from 2008 to 2016, for example, but the department continued to provide dozens of dogs to the critical counter terror ally.

According to the new report, one veterinarian working with the department recommended the program be shut down because of how poorly the dogs were handled. The inspector general called for the department to halt providing dogs "until there is a sufficient sustainability plan in place to ensure their health and welfare" -- a recommendation the department has rejected, citing national security.

Dogs remain one of the most effective means of detecting explosives and therefore deterring terrorism, according to the department. But the report argues that this is only the case when they are being properly care for and are healthy.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF, was initially in charge of providing canines to countries -- 10 in total: Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, and Thailand. But the State Department developed its own program in 2016 where dogs and their new foreign trainers are given training in the U.S. and then sent back home.

The program, however, did not have "any written policies, procedures, or written standards of care until after a draft" when the inspector general report was first provided in June, the report said. That meant there were no defined follow-up periods to check on canines' health, and while the State Department team followed U.S. Army standards, they had no standard of care that they required of foreign partners. Letters of agreement about the canines with Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, for example, made no mention of standards of care, beyond that it is the country's responsibility and not America's, per the report.

There have been problems with dogs in several countries. In Indonesia, all the dogs were overweight and had skin issues, the report said, while in Mexico, there was no record of health and welfare checks by the ATF.

But Jordan has had the most persistent problems. The department told the inspector general that it had put in place guarantees to ensure better care, including sending "mentors" to live in country full-time and oversee the program.

The report found, however, "Concerns persisted even with [mentors'] presence in Jordan... Since 2016, little progress has been made regarding the ability of Jordan to care for the [dogs]; in that time, however, [the State Department] has provided 66 dogs to Jordan."

"Multiple dogs" appeared emaciated months after "supposed improvements" were reported, per the report, while many suffered from engorged ticks. Five veterinarians working with the program "expressed concern with the health and welfare of the canines in Jordan," with two recommending on-the-ground oversight.

In particular, the report told the story of three dogs -- all of which happened after improvements were supposed to have been made.

Zoe, a two-year old Belgian Malinois, died of heat stroke near the Syrian border in July 2017, which was attributed to "negligence and improper care" by her trainers.

Mencey, a three-year old Belgian Malinois, became so sick with infections from fleas that even after the U.S. took him back for emergency medical care, veterinarians were unable to treat him and had to euthanize him in March 2018.

Athena, another two-year old Belgian Malinois, was found in a kennel covered in dirt and feces, emaciated and unhealthy -- but her poor condition wasn't noticed by the two full-time mentors on the ground until the veterinarian team raised concerns. She was returned to the U.S. in April 2018 and successfully nursed back to health, and after her incident, the department sent a veterinarian team that arrived last November to live in country full-time for two years.

Still, despite steps like that, the inspector general says it "remains concerned that Jordan is not able or willing to provide adequate care for working dogs without the Department's intervention and that any improvements that have been made were simply a reaction to pressure."

They recommend Jordan not receive any new canines until there is a sufficient plan in place, but the department rejected that, saying it would harm U.S. national security interests to counter terrorism and prevent "explosives from reaching the United States." Instead, the department's counter terrorism bureau says it has a sufficient plan in place.

No plan was ever provided to the inspector general, which says it therefore "cannot confirm whether this plan addresses canine health and welfare."

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- A special operations airman was awarded the Air Force Cross on Friday at a ceremony that recognized his actions during a 2017 combat mission against the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Keller, assigned at the time as a joint terminal attack controller for Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component Afghanistan, is credited with helping to save the lives of 130 members of his assault force who came under fire during a clearance mission against 350 ISIS fighters in Nangarhar Province on Aug. 16, 2017.

Keller, a combat controller with the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, was awarded the medal by Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday.

The Air Force Cross is the nation's second-highest medal for combat valor, only after the Medal of Honor, and is "bestowed on members of the armed forces who display extraordinary heroism while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States," according to a release from the Kentucky Air National Guard.

"[Keller] controlled the most aircraft, he dropped the most bombs -- by a long shot I might add -- and saved the men he was with," Goldfein said during the Friday ceremony.

After 15 hours of combat, his force struck an improvised explosive device that killed four personnel and wounded 31 others, the release said. Keller, who also suffered a traumatic brain injury from the explosion, managed to direct airstrikes while returning fire, "repulsing an enemy assault" less than 500 feet away.

The award citation states that Keller helped move 13 critically wounded casualties to a helicopter landing zone "under a hail of enemy fire."

"When medical evacuation helicopters were unable to identify the landing zone, he sprinted to the center of the field, exposing himself to enemy fire in order to marshal in both aircraft and aid in loading casualties," according to the citation.

Keller then "repulsed a three-sided enemy attack by returning fire with his M-4 and passing enemy positions on to another joint terminal attack controller, allowing friendly forces to break contact" with the enemy. He later had to be medically evacuated for his injuries.

"His personal courage, quick actions and tactical expertise whilst under fire directly contributed to the survival of the 130 members of his assault force, including 31 wounded in action," the citation said.

It's estimated that 50 ISIS fighters were killed during the operation.

"We never know when airmen like Dan will risk everything for a teammate in a really bad situation," Goldfein said, adding, "He didn't give it a second thought or a moment's hesitation."

The American killed in the operation was Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler, 27, a Green Beret with 19th Special Forces Group. Air Force Staff Sgt. Pete Dinich, an active duty pararescueman assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing, was presented a Silver Star medal in September for his actions during the 2017 operation.

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Kameleon007/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal action on guns has been a divisive issue, but a quarter of a century ago, it was a reality.

On this day 25 years ago, then-President Bill Clinton signed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, commonly called the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was a part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

The ban was law for a decade before expiring in 2004, but the effectiveness of the ban has been debated ever since.

Regular mass shootings have kept the topic of a new version of an assault weapons ban in the national conversation in recent years.

The 1994 version


Most reviews of the 1994 version of the assault weapons ban point to loopholes in the text of the bill that, some argue, made it less effective than some would have wanted.

The bill specifically changed the federal criminal code "to prohibit the manufacture, transfer, or possession of a semiautomatic assault weapon," however, it specified which semiautomatic assault weapons were included.

The bill banned more than a dozen specific firearms and certain features on guns, but because there are so many modifications that can be made on weapons and the fact that it did not outright ban all semiautomatic weapons, many such guns continued to be legally used.

It also banned the "transfer or possession" of large-capacity ammunition devices that carried more than 10 bullets, and noted that while there were exceptions, those not excluded would be treated as firearms.

The biggest of the various loopholes in the bill was that it only applied to the specified types of weapons and large-capacity magazines that were created after the bill became law, meaning that there was nothing illegal about owning or selling such a weapon or magazine that had been created before the law was signed.

The bill that ultimately became law was passed in the Senate with a vote of 95-4 in November 1993.

The effort to have the House of Representatives' iteration pass was pushed along by a bipartisan group of former presidents -- Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- who wrote a letter in May 1994 to House members urging them to pass the bill, according to The Los Angeles Times. Former President George H.W. Bush did not sign the letter, the paper noted.

It passed the House in August 1994, with a vote of 235-195, and the reconciled version passed the Senate four days later. It was signed into law by Clinton as part of a larger crime bill on Sept. 13, 1994.

The bill passed with a sunset provision of a decade in place, meaning that when lawmakers agreed to it they knew that it would automatically expire in 2004 unless renewed through another vote.

Congress did not reauthorize the ban at that time, meaning that the sale and manufacture of those previously banned weapons was legal once again on Sept. 13, 2004.

How effective was the ban


Findings and opinions on the ban, unsurprisingly, have differed.

On Aug. 5, after the mass deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Clinton tweeted a call for a new iteration of the ban.

"How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks? After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths. When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now," Clinton wrote in the tweet.

One of the most-cited studies on the effectiveness of the ban was done in 2004. That federally funded report by the National Institute of Justice at the Department of Justice found that the number of gun crimes involving automatic weapons dropped by 17 percent in the six cities involved in the study during the ban.

The report pointed to a reduction in the use of assault pistols, but noted that there had not been a clear decline in the use of assault rifles.

Ultimately, the report claimed that it was "premature" to make any decisive conclusions.

"Because the ban has not yet reduced the use of LCMs [large capacity magazines] in crime, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. However, the ban’s exemption of millions of pre-ban AWs [assault weapons] and LCMs ensured that the effects of the law would occur only gradually. Those effects are still unfolding and may not be fully felt for several years into the future, particularly if foreign, pre-ban LCMs continue to be imported into the U.S. in large numbers," the report stated.

"Although the ban has been successful in reducing crimes with AWs, any benefits from this reduction are likely to have been outweighed by steady or rising use of non-banned semiautomatics with LCMs, which are used in crime much more frequently than AWs. Therefore, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence," the study’s summary said.

The prospects of another ban

Calls for a new assault weapons ban often crop up after mass shootings, and some lawmakers -- mostly Democrats -- hope to act upon those requests.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 in January, though there has been little movement on the bill since.

Some individual states have adopted their own iterations of the law, banning some semiautomatic weapons, but no such federal law has been in place since.

According to the Giffords Law Center, which is associated with a nonprofit gun violence prevention group, seven states -- California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York -- as well as Washington, D.C., have laws banning assault weapons.

An amendment banning the future sale of assault rifles in Florida has prompted recent debate.

A Florida National Rifle Association lobbyist spoke out against the proposal at a hearing in August, pointing to the impact it would have on gun manufacturers in the state, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

"If I were the owner of one of these firearm manufacturing companies, I wouldn’t wait to see what voters do," lobbyist Marion Hammer said, according to the newspaper. "If this were allowed to go on the ballot, I'd say, 'I’m outta here.'"

Assault weapons and a possible federal ban or buyback program have been a popular topic among the 2020 Democratic candidates as well, ensuring that there will be continued debate on the issue for the months, and possibly years, to come.

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ABC News(HOUSTON) -- As Democrats descended into Republican territory for Thursday’s debate in Houston, Texas, they made their pitches to voters with the hope of creating a battleground opportunity in 2020.

Over the course of nearly three hours, the 10 candidates exchanged blows over pivotal issues including health care, gun legislation, climate change, education and criminal justice.

Amid the multitude of topics, all eyes were focused on Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren who were facing off for the first time at the center of the stage. Despite the high stakes for two of the top-polling candidates, their matchup didn’t create major fireworks, but rather continued the back-and-forth over whether Democrats should embrace a moderate party platform or move toward a more progressive stance.

The debate also featured a rare moment of unity on the heels of tragedy that took place in the border town of El Paso, Texas. Despite their differences regarding the best way to pursue gun policy reform, all of the candidates rallied around former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native.

The center stage tangle over health care

The first-time faceoff between Biden and Warren almost immediately devolved into a pile-on over health care across all wings of the debate stage. With Warren on his left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders to his right, Biden, the current top-polling front runner, was pelted with attacks on all sides.

While Warren and Sanders questioned whether Biden’s plan, which would build upon Obamacare rather than completely overhaul it, went far enough, Biden staunchly defended the former president’s landmark health care bill.

“I know that the senator says she’s for Bernie. Well I’m for Barack. I think Obamacare worked,” Biden said. “This is about candor, honesty, big ideas.”

Biden also questioned how the two progressives flanking him on stage would pay for their plans.

“My distinguished friend, the senator on my left, has not indicated how she pays for it,” Biden said in reference to Warren’s defense of a “Medicare For All” plan.

“And the senator has, in fact, come forward and said how he's going to pay for it, but it gets him halfway there,” Biden added in a pivot to Sanders.

Biden also argued Warren’s plan would result in tax hikes for the middle class, which the Massachusetts senator didn’t overtly deny. Instead, Warren took a swipe back by insisting she “actually never met anybody who likes their health insurance company.”

The debate over “Medicare For All” exposed deep divides between the progressive and more moderate candidates on stage, including current Senate colleagues.

Sanders was put on the spot for his backing of “Medicare for All” by Sen. Amy Klobuchar. While Sanders claimed ownership over writing the plan, which he said would would be the most cost-effective policy for providing Americans with health care, Klobuchar insisted otherwise.

“While Bernie wrote the bill, I read the bill,” Klobuchar jabbed.

Former colleagues face off

While the former vice president invoked the accomplishments of President Obama on health care, he also fielded a sharp attack from one of his former administration colleagues. In a testy exchange, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro seemed to question Biden’s mental fitness as he argued over the difference between automatic enrollment and opting-in for coverage.

“That's a big difference, because Barack Obama's vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered. He wanted every single person in this country covered. My plan would do that. Your plan would not,” Castro said.

As Biden said Americans would not have to buy into coverage under his plan, Castro followed up with a claim that the former vice president contradicted himself.

“You just said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in,” Castro shot back. “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago? Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago?”

In fact, two minutes earlier Biden stated people would be enrolled in Medicare if they could not afford health insurance.

“Anyone who can't afford it gets automatically enrolled in the Medicare-type option,” Biden said, later adding, “If you want Medicare, if you lose the job from your insurance company, from your employer, you automatically can buy into this.”

Harris pivots from challenging Biden to taking on Trump

After briefly rising and falling in the polls following a headline-grabbing debate performance in June, Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday pivoted away from the theatrics that marked her early performances and focused on targeting a rival not on the debate stage: President Donald Trump.

“I have a few words for Donald Trump,” Harris said, turning to speak directly to the camera. “What you don't get you is that the American people are so much better than this.”

The California senator added that her campaign is focused “on our common issues, common hopes and desires” and that she will work to unify the country and turn “the page for America.”

“And now, President Trump, you can go back to watching Fox News,” Harris said after calling out the president.

And later in the debate, amid a fiery discussion on Medicare for All, Harris again used her time to address the president.

“At least five people have talked, some repeatedly on this subject, and not once have we talked about Donald Trump,” Harris said. “So let's talk about the fact that Donald Trump came into office and spent almost the entire first year of his term trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.”

Harris’ campaign has somewhat stumbled after initially seeing a bump in polling following a blockbuster moment in the first debate when the California senator criticized Biden for his history of working with segregationists and opposing school busing.

In Thursday’s showing, Harris looked like a candidate trying to stretch over the primary and into a general election showdown with the president by making the case she’s the most prepared to lead the Democratic Party and the country moving forward.

Candidates defend records on race, praise O’Rourke’s response to El Paso shooting

The issue of race in America took center stage during Thursday night’s debate -- and while most of the candidates called out Trump for widening the racial divide, a number of the Democrats on stage were asked to defend their own record.

ABC News Correspondent Linsey Davis asked Mayor Pete Buttigieg, “You've been struggling with issues around race in your own community. You've also said that anyone who votes to re-elect President Trump is, at best, looking the other way on racism. Does that sort of talk alienate voters and potentially deepen divisions in our country?”

The South Bend mayor looked to divert his response away from his record and toward Trump, saying, “I believe what's deepened divisions in the country is the conduct of this president, and we have a chance to change all of that.”

And when confronted about her record in law enforcement by Davis, Sen. Harris seemed ready to respond: “I'm glad you asked me this question, and there have been many distortions of my record.”

Harris went on to defend her service, promising to close private prisons and to hold law enforcement, including prosecutors, accountable. The former California attorney general added that her experience would allow her to fix the system “from the inside.”

“I will have the ability to be an effective leader and get this job complete,” Harris said.

Another major moment: Amid the heated discussion on racial issues and gun control, candidates found a brief moment of unity Thursday night, offering support for O’Rourke in his home state for his response to the recent mass shooting in El Paso which targeted Latinos.

“I want to commend Beto for how well he has spoken to the passion and the frustration and the sadness after what happened in his hometown of El Paso. He's done a great job with that,” Castro told his fellow candidate.

The former vice president also commended O’Rourke for how he handled the shooting, first calling the former congressman “Beto” before apologizing.

“Excuse me for saying Beto," Biden said, to which O’Rourke replied, "That’s all right, Beto's good.”

“The way he handled what happened in his hometown is meaningful. The look in the eyes of those people, to see those kids, to understand those parents, you understand the heartache,” Biden said.

And in one of the more passionate moments from Thursday’s debate, O’Rourke argued for stricter gun control by telling an emotional story of visiting with victims of the shooting.

“I met the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was shot by an AR-15 and that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15 in Odessa, in Midland. There weren't enough ambulances to get to them in time,” O’Rourke said. “So, hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.”

Buttigieg shares his personal story of coming out

All 10 candidates were asked to close the debate by sharing some of their professional setbacks in order to demonstrate their ability to be resilient leaders if elected president.

The question drew a wide array of responses, including Buttigieg’s personal story of coming out under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, before becoming an elected official in a conservative state.

“When it came to professional setbacks, I’d wonder whether just acknowledging who I was, was going to be the ultimate career-ending professional setback,” Buttigieg said. “I came back from the deployment and realized that you only get to live one life, and I was not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer, so I just came out.”

“I had no idea what kind of professional setback it would be, especially because inconveniently, it was an election year in my socially conservative community,” he continued. “What happened was that when I trusted voters to judge me based on the job that I did for them, they decided to trust me and re-elected me with 80% of the vote. And what I learned was that trust can be reciprocated, and that part of how you can win and deserve to win is to know what's worth more to you than winning.”

As the first openly gay person to run for U.S. president, Buttigieg’s account offered a reminder of the historic nature of the diversity among this field of candidates.

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ABC News(HOUSTON) -- A Republican lawmaker from Texas made what Beto O'Rourke called a "death threat" against the Democratic presidential candidate on Twitter, prompting a report to the FBI.

It began on the stage of the third Democratic presidential candidate's debate Thursday night.

In response to a question about his proposal that owners of assault weapons be forced to sell them to the government, O'Rourke said, "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."

The comment was met with sustained applause and the candidate's account later tweeted the line.

Hell yes, we're gonna take your AR-15.

— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 13, 2019

Texas state Rep. Brisco Cain, a pro-gun, Republican lawmaker, responded on Twitter, "My AR is ready for you Robert Francis."

O'Rourke's birth name is Robert Francis O'Rourke, and he has been mocked by Republican lawmakers for using his nickname, Beto.

Within hours, Twitter removed the tweet for violating its terms of service, but not before O'Rourke took a screenshot.

He responded with his own tweet, saying, "This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn't own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else."

Cain replied, "You're a child Robert Francis."

The O'Rourke campaign is reporting the original tweet from Cain to the FBI, a campaign official told ABC News.

You’re a child Robert Francis https://t.co/rU3WoYQFQV

— 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐢𝐧 (@BriscoeCain) September 13, 2019

Twitter users responded with disbelief, and Cain called one commenter "an idiot."

Cain is a member of the Texas House of Representatives for House District 128, which covers an area east of Houston, where the debate was held.

He is a member of the newly formed Texas Freedom Caucus and has been outspoken against O'Rourke's proposed ban and mandatory buy-back.

Earlier this month, he wrote on Twitter, addressing O'Rourke, "I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands."

O'Rourke has been particularly outspoken about banning military-style assault weapons and instituting a mandatory buy-back scheme since a man in an El Paso Walmart last month killed 22 people and injured dozens more. The suspect is thought to have used an AK-style rifle. El Paso is O'Rourke's hometown.

Most candidates in the Democratic debate on Thursday night made statements or commitments about regulating guns.

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Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television(HOUSTON) -- During the Democratic debate on Thursday, Julian Castro got into a testy exchange with Vice President Joe Biden over their plans to make sure that more Americans are covered by health insurance -- but he later insisted in an interview with ABC News he had not taken a shot at Biden's age.

The moment Thursday night came when Castro said that because Biden's plan allows Americans to choose to participate, some 10 million people would be left uninsured. Here is the full transcript of that exchange:

Castro: I also want to recognize the work that Bernie has done on this and, of course, we owe a debt of gratitude to President Barack Obama. Of course, I also worked for President Obama, Vice President Biden, and I know that the problem with your plan is that it leaves 10 million people uncovered. Now, on the last debate stage in Detroit, you said that wasn't true and Senator Harris brought that up. There was a fact check of that, they said that was true.

You know, I grew up with a grandmother who Type2 diabetes and I watched her condition get worse and worse. But that whole time, she had Medicare. I want every single American family to have a strong Medicare plan available. If they choose to hold onto strong, solid private health insurance, I believe they should be able to do that, but the differences between what I support and what you support, Vice President Biden, is that you require them to opt-in, and I would not require them to opt-in, they would automatically be enrolled.

They wouldn’t have to buy in. That's a big difference because Barack Obama's vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered. He wanted every single person in this country covered. My plan would do that. Your plan would not.


Biden: They do not have to buy-in. They do not have to buy in.

Castro: You just said that you just said that two minutes ago. You just said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in.

Biden: Your grandmother would not have to buy in if she qualified for Medicaid --

Castro: Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago? Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago? I can't believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in, and now you're saying they don't have to buy-in. You're forgetting that.

Biden: You are automatically enrolled.

Castro: It automatically enrolls people regardless of whether they choose to opt-in or not. If you lose your job, for instance, his, his health care plan would not automatically enroll you. You would have to opt-in. My health care plan would. That’s a big difference. I'm fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama, and you're not.

Biden: That will be a surprise to him.

Several minutes earlier, Biden did reference the necessity to buy in to his proposed plan. Here is the full transcription of that exchange with Senator Bernie Sanders:

Biden: Look, everybody says we want an option. The option I'm proposing is, Medicare for all -- Medicare for choice. If you want Medicare, if you lose the job from your insurance company, from your employer, you automatically can buy in to this. You don't have, no pre-existing condition can stop you from buying in. You get covered. Period. And if you notice, nobody's yet said how much it's going to cost the taxpayer. I hear this, large savings, the president -- my friend from Vermont thinks that the employer is going to give you back if you negotiate as a union all these years, got a cut in wages because you got insurance. They're going to give back that money to the employee?Sanders: As a matter of fact, they will.

Biden: Well let me tell you something. For a socialist you got -- For a socialist, you got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.

After the debate, Castro told ABC News he did not regret the exchange and said “of course” he checked the transcript.

“I wasn’t taking a shot at his age," Castro said. "I was taking a shot at the fact that he had just said the words ‘buy-in.’”

“It’s not an attack on Vice President Biden, It’s not something about the personalities. It’s about the health care policy – that was my focus,” he said.

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ABC News(HOUSTON) -- Sparks flew Thursday night in Houston as the 10 highest-polling Democratic presidential candidates clashed on issues like health care and criminal justice, and fought to prove they were best-suited to beat President Donald Trump in 2020.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro appeared Thursday at Texas Southern University in a debate hosted by ABC News.

Here are the seven biggest moments of the night:

1. Yang: 10 families to receive $12,000 from campaign

Yang kicked off the third debate by asking viewers to volunteer to accept his money.

During his opening remarks, the candidate said his campaign would give 10 families $1,000 per month for a year to demonstrate the value of his signature policy, a universal basic income.

"It's time to trust ourselves more than our politicians," Yang said, urging viewers to nominate themselves to participate "if you believe that you can solve your own problems better than any politician."

Some campaign finance experts have said the monthly gifts, dubbed "Freedom Dividends," walk a very fine line in terms of campaign finance laws that prohibit the personal use of campaign funds.

2. Biden fends off attacks on health care

Biden staunchly defended the Affordable Care Act enacted under President Barack Obama and fended off attacks from Sanders, who introduced a Medicare For All bill, and from Warren and Castro.

Biden questioned Sanders' suggestion that under Medicare for All employers would return savings to employees.

“Well let me tell you something. For a socialist, you got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do,” Biden quipped.

While Sanders said that his plan was better for Americans who fall ill with cancer or heart disease, Biden -- whose son, Beau Biden, died from cancer in 2015 -- shot back by saying he knows "a lot about cancer."

Castro, who also worked in the Obama administration, took aim at Biden’s health plan, saying that it would leave 10 million people without coverage, whereas Castro's plan would offer universal coverage.

"I'm fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama, and you're not,” Castro said.

“That will be a surprise to him,” Biden replied.

3. Harris confronted about record on criminal justice reform

Criminal justice reform has been one of the most hot-button topics during the campaign, and Sen. Kamala Harris' record as a prosecutor, as a San Francisco district attorney and then as the attorney general in California, has come under scrutiny.

ABC moderator Linsey Davis noted that Harris' recently-released plan reversed several of her previous positions: "You’ve said you changed on these and other things because you were, quote, swimming against the current and thankfully, the currents have changed. But when you had the power, why didn't you try to affect change then?"

Harris defended her prosecutorial history against what she called "distortions," and pointed to her efforts to help those with criminal histories tied to drugs find employment, requiring law enforcement officers to wear cameras full-time and creating racial bias trainings for police officers.

"Was I able to get enough done? Absolutely not," she said. "But my plan has been described by activists as being a bold and comprehensive plan that is about ending mass incarceration, about taking the profit out of the criminal justice system."

4. Rivals offer kind words to O'Rourke on El Paso shooting

During a night of tense exchanges, Biden, Harris, Klobuchar and Booker each made a point of offering kind words to rival O’Rourke for his handling of the mass shooting last month at a Walmart in his home town of El Paso, Texas.

“I'm happy that people like Beto O'Rourke are showing such courage now and coming forward and also now supporting licensing,” Booker said. “But this is… what I'm sorry about -- I'm sorry that it had to take issues coming to my neighborhood or personally affecting Beto to suddenly make us demand change.”

O’Rourke spoke about El Paso and another, more recent deadly shooting in Odessa, Texas.

“Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," he said. "We're not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.”

5. Castro takes on Biden on immigration

Castro made a couple of pointed attacks against Biden, including for refusing to directly address criticism of the Obama administration's policies on deportations while touting his time in the Obama administration only when it suits him.

"He wants to take credit for Obama's work but not answer any questions," Castro said of Biden.

6. Harris compares Trump to small man in Wizard of Oz

Speaking about Trump’s trade policy, Harris compared the president to a character in the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz -- and it wasn’t Dorothy.

“He reminds me of that guy in The Wizard of Oz, you know, when you pull back the curtain, it’s a really small dude?” Harris said.

7. Biden interrupted by protesters

Late in the debate, just as Biden was beginning to talk about how he had dealt with a setback, he was interrupted by a group of protesters chanting from the audience.

It was not immediately clear what the protesters were chanting, though photos taken as they were led out of the debate hall showed them wearing t-shirts that read: “DEFEND DACA, ABOLISH ICE, CITIZENSHIP FOR ALL.”

When Biden began again, he offered an emotional account of losing his first wife and daughter in a car crash early in his career.

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OlegAlbinsky/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump didn't tweet during the third Democratic primary debate on Thursday night, but a number of other key Republicans spoke out in real time.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told ABC News: "Unimpressive roster of Dems up there tonight. Nothing new. President Trump will dominate any of them."

During the debate, Murtaugh also called out Andrew Yang's plan to give 10 supporters $1,000 a month for a year as part of a push for a universal basic income.

"Not one new word uttered on stage, outside of Yang openly buying votes," Murtaugh said.

Eric Trump tweeted during the debate that "these people are so uninspiring... #yawn."

Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a number of tweets that were critical of the Democrats during the debate, commenting on three that specifically criticized former Vice President Joe Biden.

Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, released a statement after the debate, slamming "Democrats' big government socialism."

"President Trump's record of accomplishment easily eclipses any of these weak candidates," McEnany said in the statement. "Thank you to ABC and the Democrat Party for another infomercial for President Trump!"

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Kendall Karson/ABC News(HOUSTON) -- The last moments of the Democratic debate took a more personal turn when each candidate opened up about the biggest setback they've endured.

Former Vice President Joe Biden answered first and spoke about losing his wife, Neilia Biden, and their 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, in a car crash in 1972.

"I lost my faith for awhile. I came back," Biden said. "But the fact is that I learned that the way you deal with it is you deal with finding purpose. Purpose in what you do. … And my purpose is to do what I've always tried to do and stay engaged in public policy."

Protesters interrupted Biden at the beginning of his remarks as they chanted from the audience. It was not immediately clear what they were yelling, but photos of them being removed showed that they were wearing T-shirts that read: "DEFEND DACA, ABOLISH ICE, CITIZENSHIP FOR ALL."

In a historic moment for any presidential debate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg opened up about his decision to come out as gay.

"I came back from the deployment and realized that you only get to live one life, and I was not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer, so I just came out," said Buttigieg, who served as a military officer in Afghanistan.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, spoke about the difficulties he's overcome in both his personal life and political career.

"Resilience, to me, means growing up in a rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, New York, the son of an immigrant who came to this country without a nickel in his pocket," Sanders said.

"Professional resilience means to me, George, running for U.S. Senate in Vermont and getting 1% of the vote. Running for governor and getting 2% of the vote. Finally becoming mayor of Burlington, Vermont, with a 10-vote margin," Sanders continued, referring to ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., spoke openly about becoming the first black woman elected as attorney general in California. She said she remembered being told when she was running that it wasn't her time and it would be too difficult.

"I didn't listen," she added. "And a part of it probably comes from the fact that I was raised by a mother who said many things that were life lessons for me, including, 'Don't you ever let anybody ever tell you who you are, you tell them who you are.'"

Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke said he learned about resilience in meeting with people in El Paso, Texas following the mass shooting at a Walmart that left 22 dead.

"We were not defeated by that, nor were we defined by that," O'Rourke said. "The very thing that drew that killer to us is the very thing that helps us set the example for the rest of this country. We don't see our differences as disqualifying or dangerous, we see them as foundational to our success, to our strength and to our security and to our safety."

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Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television(HOUSTON) -- The Democrats wrapped up their third presidential primary debate of the 2020 cycle, and although they repeatedly touted their own similarities, as well as their contrasts to President Donald Trump, that didn't stop them from trading barbs.

Some of the biggest zingers came as early as the opening statements, but those carried on throughout the three-hour debate Thursday night in Houston.

While the winners and losers of the night will be debated in the days to come, here's a selection of some of the night's best one-liners:

1. "It's original, I'll give you that," Mayor Pete Buttigieg said, reacting to entrepreneur Andrew Yang's announcement that his campaign will be giving $1,000 a month for a year to 10 families, a potential test run for his promise to support a universal basic income.

2. "While Bernie [Sanders] wrote the bill, I read the bill," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said during an early exchange over health care.

The debate over Medicare for All was an early discussion where the candidates tried to distinguish themselves from one another.

3. "They said, 'Do you think Trump is responsible for what happened?' And I said, 'Well, look. Obviously he didn't pull the trigger, but he's certainly been tweeting out the ammunition,'" Sen. Kamala Harris said during a conversation about the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

4. When asked if he was proposing taking away guns, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke said, "I am, if it's a weapon that was designed to kill people on the battlefield."

He returned to the vow after talking about the shooting in Odessa, Texas.

"Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore," O'Rourke said.

5. "He wants to take credit for Obama's work but not answer any questions," former Secretary Julian Castro talking about Vice President Joe Biden.

That wasn't the first time Castro directly took on Biden. During the earlier debate over health care, Castro accused Biden of getting tripped up, asking him, "Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?"

6. "Step one is, appoint a secretary of education who actually believes in public education," said Buttegieg.

The South Bend mayor went on to say that teachers should be paid more and public education should "teach more to do with critical thinking and social and emotional learning." The push to pay teachers more was echoed by other candidates on the stage, including Yang and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who noted that she was the sole former public school teacher on the stage.

7. "No, I'm going to go like the rest of them do -- twice over," Biden said, fighting back after a moderator tried to cut his speaking time.

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adamkaz/iStock(HOUSTON) -- The top-polling presidential candidates tackled an array of issues during Thursday's Democratic debate in Houston, but things got heated when they were asked about how they planned to mend America's growing racial divide.

Recent polls indicate that racism is a top concern among young black voters, especially in the wake of the racially-motivated attack on Latinos in El Paso, Texas last month that left 22 dead.

During the debate, the candidates were asked to explain why they are the best person to address the growing racial divide. Most of the candidates overwhelmingly agreed that President Donald Trump has made the country's racial divide much worse, but they differed on how they planned to take on the issue if elected.

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas

O'Rourke, who said the shooter who targeted immigrants in his hometown of El Paso was inspired by Trump, said issues surrounding racism would be a top priority for him as president.

"Racism in America is endemic. It is foundational. We can mark the creation of this country not at the fourth of July, 1774 but August 20th, 1619 when the first kidnapped African was brought to this country against his will and in bondage and as a slave, built the greatness and the success and the wealth that neither he nor his descendants would ever be able to fully participate in and enjoy," O'Rourke said.

He vowed to sign a reparations bill to address racism "at its foundation."

"We have to be able to answer this challenge. And it is found in our education system where in Texas a 5-year-old child in kindergarten is five times as likely to be disciplined or suspended or expelled based on the color of their skin," he said. "In our health care system where there is a maternal mortality crisis three times as deadly for people of color or the fact that there is ten times the wealth in white America than there is in black America."

"We will also call out the fact that we have a white supremacist in the White House and he poses a mortal threat to people of color all across this country," he added.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

Booker, former mayor of Newark, also targeted the president.

"We know Donald Trump's a racist, but there is no red badge of courage for calling him that. Racism exists. The question isn't who isn't a racist, it's who is and isn't doing something about racism. And this is not just an issue that started yesterday," Booker said. "We have systemic racism that is eroding our nation from health care to the criminal justice system. And it's nice to go back to slavery, but dear God, we have a criminal justice system that is so racially biased, we have more African Americans under criminal supervision today than all the slaves in 1850."

If elected, he said he would create an office in the White House to deal with the problem of white supremacy and hate crimes.

"We will make sure that systemic racism is dealt with in substantive plans from criminal justice reform to the disparities in health care, to even one that we don't talk about enough, which is the racism that we see in environmental injustice and communities of color all around this country," Booker said.

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro

Castro, who served as mayor of San Antonio, Texas, before spending over two years in President Barack Obama's cabinet, said he plans to focus on police reform.

"A few weeks ago, a shooter drove 10 hours inspired by this president to kill people who look like me and people who look like my family," Castro said, before invoking the names of several black men and women who have died at the hands of white police officers. "White supremacy is a growing threat to this country and we have to root it out."

"We need to root out racism," he said, "because that doesn't represent the vast majority of Americans who do have a good heart."

He said that police reform would be a key part of his strategy.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg, who previously said "anyone who votes to re-elect President Trump is, at best, looking the other way on racism," once again accused the president of deepening divisions in the country.

"We know that the generational theft of the descendants of slaves is a part of why everything from housing to education to health to employment basically puts us in two different countries," Buttigieg said. "I have proposed the most comprehensive vision to tackle systemic racism in every one of these areas."

Buttigieg also said that he wanted "to make sure that we're not just dealing with the over-incarceration of black Americans but also black solutions" including "entrepreneurship, raising to 25% the target for the federal government to do business with minority-owned businesses," and "investing in HBCUs that are training and educating the next generation of entrepreneurs."

As president, he said he would focus on "transcending this framework that pits us against each other."

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

Harris, who is aiming to become the first woman and woman of color to reach the Oval Office, sought to defend her record as a California prosecutor.

"I made a decision that if I was going to have the ability to reform the system, I would try to do it from the inside," said Harris. "Was I able to get enough done? Absolutely not. But my plan has been described by activists as being a bold and comprehensive plan that is about ending mass incarceration, about taking the profit out of the criminal justice system," she said. "I plan on shutting down for-profit prisons on day one. It will be about what we need to do to hold law enforcement, including prosecutors, accountable."

She said ending mass incarceration would be a major priority as president.

"My plan is about making sure that in America's criminal justice system, we de-incarcerate women and children, that we end solitary confinement and that we work on keeping families intact," she said. "As president of the United States, knowing the system from the inside, I will have the ability to be an effective leader and get this job complete."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Klobuchar dealt with dozens of incidents involving black men who were killed by police during her eight years as a Minnesota prosecutor, but she said her record on racial justice issues had been "misinterpreted."

"When I was there, the way we handled these police shootings, I actually took a stand to make sure outside investigators handled them. I took on our major police chief in Minneapolis," she said. "But in the prosecutor's office they were handled with the grand jury. That's how they were handled across our state. I now believe it is better for accountability if the prosecutor handles them and makes those decisions herself."

She said that she was "proud of the work our staff did" and highlighted several cases where her team went after suspects accused of killing African American children.

"What changes did we make? Go after white color crimes in a big way. Diversify the office in a big way. Work with the Innocence Project to make sure we do much better with eyewitness I.D.," Klobuchar said. "And as a senator and as your president I will make sure that we don't just do the first step act when it comes to criminal sentencing, that we move to the second step act which means the 90% of people that are incarcerated in local and state jails, let's reduce those sentences for nonviolent offenders and let's give them jobs and let them vote when they get out of prison."

Former Vice President Joe Biden

When asked about racial issues, Biden spoke about his past work as a public defender and what his stances are today.

"We should be talking about rehabilitation. Nobody should be in jail for a nonviolent crime. When we were in the white house, we released 36,000 people from the federal prison system. Nobody should be in jail for a drug problem," he said.

"We build more rehabilitation centers, not prisons. I'm the guy that put in the drug courts to divert people from the criminal justice system. And so, we have to change the whole way we look at this. And we put people in prison, we have to equip them when they get out. Nobody who got in prison for marijuana, for example, immediately upon being released," he said. "That should be a misdemeanor, they should be out and their record should be expunged."

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