Spread across two nights, the second Democratic debate proved to be more memorable than the first, creating a number of highlight-worthy exchanges and clap-backs — all while keeping a vast majority of the debate on topics of substance.
On night one, it was Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders against a pack of more-moderate outsiders who were fighting to make an impact in a race that’s slowly leaving them behind. On Wednesday night, it was the rematch of former Vice President Joe Biden vs. Sen. Kamala Harris, but the duo also faced criticism individually from each of the other eight Democrats on stage.
Here’s a list of the most memorable and noteworthy exchanges from the debates, broken down by night.
Tuesday’s best moments
Warren calls out candidates who say progressive policies are a fairy tale
Warren drew one of the loudest applause lines of the night on Tuesday when she hit at Rep. John Delaney for saying that extreme-progressive policies, which Warren represents, are simply not realistic.
"I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for," the senator said.
The comment was made directly after Delaney said he is not running on “fairy tale” policies.
Warren later accused Delaney of touting Republican talking points in order to criticize her and Sen. Bernie Sanders more progressive policies, such as a “Medicare for all”-style health care system and a broad liberalization of the immigration system.
“We are the Democrats. We are not about taking health care from anyone. That’s what the Republicans are trying to do, and we should stop using Republican talking points,” she said.
Sanders to Tim Ryan: ‘I wrote the damn bill’
While Sanders was in the middle of explaining his comprehensive “Medicare for All” platform and how it will cover all costs for senior citizens, Rep. Tim Ryan openly questioned how comprehensive the platform really is.
“You don’t know that, Bernie," Ryan quietly interrupted, but loud enough for Sanders to hear.
“I do know that, I wrote the damn bill,” Sanders hit back, referencing a “Medicare for All” bill he introduced in the Senate.
Sanders then continued his same talking point, uninterrupted, while CNN’s cameras panned to a defeated-looking Ryan, who needed to make a splash Tuesday night to stand a chance in surviving in the still-dense Democratic field.
Sanders to Delaney: ‘You’re wrong’
Simple but effective.
At least, it was in the eyes of the Detroit crowd that erupted to Sanders’ response to Delaney’s criticisms of his “Medicare for All" plan by telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that he would simply tell Delaney ‘You’re wrong.’
Sanders, however, did expand on why he believed the representative from Maryland was wrong.
“Right now, we have a dysfunctional health care system.” Sanders said. "Eighty-seven million uninsured or underinsured, 500,000 Americans every year going bankrupt because of medical bills, 30,000 people dying while the health care industry makes tens of billions of dollars in profit.”
Delaney said earlier in Tuesday’s debate that Sanders’ plan was ‘bad policy’ and, in the past, called it ‘political suicide that will just get President Trump reelected.’
Buttigieg: “This is the exact same conversation we’ve been having since I was in high school”
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s singled out gun violence in schools while criticizing Congress for acting slowly to incorporate new gun control law, saying the U.S. has now “produced the second school shooting generation in this country.”
“We’re supposed to be dealing with this so you don’t have to,” Buttigieg said. “High school is hard enough without worrying that you’re going to get shot.
“We have now produced the second school shooting generation in this country. We dare not allow there to be a third.”
Buttigieg said he was in high school at the time of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. He also said it was the "exact same conversation” the country is having right now, highlighting what he believes to be stagnant progress in enforcing gun control.
Wednesday’s best moments
Biden to Harris: ‘Go easy on me, kid’
In what felt like a somewhat forced comment, Biden, 76, opened up the night by telling Harris, who walked all over him in the first debate in Miami, 'Go easy on me, kid."
Harris, 54, didn’t acknowledge the comment, but instead shook Biden’s hand and asked how he was.
Minutes later, in his opening statement minutes later, Biden predicted that Harris might not follow his advice.
“I think Democrats are expecting some engagement here, and I expect we will get it,” he said.
Booker to Biden: You can’t invoke Obama ‘when it’s convenient’
Sen. Cory Booker hit Biden hard multiple times throughout Wednesday’s debate, keeping his pre-debate promise of being Biden’s antagonist throughout the night.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio put Biden on the spot about whether he backed the 3 million deportations that happened under former President Barack Obama. Biden dodged the question, saying he was not going to disclose private conversations between him and the former president.
That’s when Booker stepped in:
“You can’t have it both ways,” he said to Biden. “You invoke President Obama more than anyone in this campaign; you can’t do it when it’s convenient and then duck it when it’s not.”
Booker further hit Biden on immigration after the former vice president suggested immigrants should be able to stay in the country and receive a seven-year green card if they were highly educated.
Booker responded again, saying that plays “exactly into what the president wants” — dividing immigrants into different categories.
“Well that’s playing into what the Republicans want: to pit some immigrants against other immigrants,” he said.
Gabbard attacks Harris on marijuana
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard targeted Harris over her history as the top prosecutor in California — a topic she’s been hit with since announcing her candidacy for president. Wednesday night was no different, with Gabbard landing the hardest punch
Gabbard specifically criticized Harris on her record over prosecuting drug offenses and the death penalty.
“I’m deeply concerned about this record,” Gabbard said, starting to read from a list of issues, including what she says was Harris blocking evidence that could have freed a man from death row and keeping inmates behind bars for “cheap labor.”
"She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana," Gabbard said.
Harris responded: “As elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people — which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.”
Booker to Biden: ‘You’re dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know the flavor’
While discussing criminal justice, Biden took more heat from Booker on a bill that he helped through the Senate in 1994 that experts now say resulted in mass incarceration.
In defending himself, Biden deflected and challenged Booker on his criminal justice record as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, citing issues with the city’s police department.
Booker immediately said back that he was “shocked” Biden would want to compare records.
"If you want to compare records — and, frankly I'm shocked that you do — I am happy to do that. Because all the problems that he is talking about that he created, I actually led the bill that got passed into law that reverses the damage that your bill," Booker said. "You were bragging about calling it the Biden crime bill up until 2015."
Biden further criticized Booker’s performance in running his city. To which, came the money quote:
“Mr. Vice President, there’s a saying in my community: You’re dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know the flavor.
“Come to the city of Newark and see the reforms we’ve put in place ... You are trying to shift the view from what you created. There are people in prison for life for drug offenses because you stood up and used that ‘tough on crime’ phony rhetoric that got a lot of people elected, but destroyed communities like mine.