President Trump is set to hold a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday night. It’s his first gathering of supporters since the second round of Democratic presidential debates this week.
Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson gathered a group of Democratic voters in this crucial swing state to discuss the debates and where the candidates stand.
Democratic Voters From Cincinnati
Gladys Pope, 39
On the debate over reparations for African American descendants of slaves
“I don't think that people, black Americans in this country who are descendants of slaves, should get a check because then how do you figure out who's who and the records were so scattered back then and how do you prove it and all of that? I do think that historically, America has made atonement for when they have wronged a certain group of people with like Holocaust survivor payments and the Japanese internment camps and Native Americans. So America as a country has a history of saying, 'Listen we got this wrong, and we understand that we put a lot of people in a terrible position because of federal and legal and civil systems that were put into place by the government.'
“Slavery had ended ... and that was it. Everybody was just on an equal playing field from then on. You would not see the economic and socioeconomic disparity that you see between blacks and whites now. But there were certain systems that were put in place by the government over a period of decades, hundreds of years, that put black people in a deficient position I believe. And I don't think it's wrong for America to acknowledge that, and to say, 'Hey, here's how we're gonna make that right.' Now … I don't agree with [monetary reparations], but something that acknowledges the things that black people have gone through in this country, things that we still face, and to help sort of try to give us advantages to try to offset the disadvantages that were historically put in place.”
On which candidate is best equipped to beat Trump
“Well, you talked about electability and then you said, 'Who do you think could most easily beat Donald Trump?' And before last night's debate, I probably would have said Kamala Harris. But the way that [Rep. Tulsi Gabbard] challenged her — and you could tell she was not ready — she was thrown off of her game. It took her awhile to kind of respond and to clarify her position, and that kind of scared me.
“I don't want someone that can beat Donald Trump. I want someone that can beat everything that he stands for. This race is not just against Donald Trump as the person. It's against this new idea of hate and bigotry and lying and cheating and scamming and name calling. We want a president who can put that whole era to bed.
“[That person is] Joe Biden.”
Yonathan Tewelde, 23
On climate change as a top priority
“I mean for me, it's a pretty pressing issue. I was telling one of my friends, I was like, 'I'm going to buy a property in Tennessee and like if we don't do anything, it'll be beachfront property in a couple of years.'
“It's a pressing issue because it's not only an American issue — it's a global issue. And in every movie anytime there's an asteroid heading to Earth, the whole world seems to combine together and do something about it. But it's not an asteroid — it's our world. And I think we should definitely do something about it. So for me, if I was running for president, I'd probably say, 'Yeah, this will probably be a top three, if not the No. 1 issue.' ”
On how the candidates attacked each other instead of Trump
“I had a business teacher ... once tell me that if you're selling a product and you only talk bad about the other product, chances are your own product isn't good. And I saw a lot of that last night.
“I mean, it made for great TV. The whole Biden and Booker thing, I was like, it reminded me of like [WWF Superstars of Wrestling] or whatever when I was a kid. So that was cool to see, but it didn't gain anything of substance or I wasn't looking at it, and I was like [thinking], 'I can see that person being president.’ ”
Colleen Bowman, 45
On which candidate is best equipped to repair the racial divide in the U.S.
“I think that any person on that stage would have been better than Donald Trump at repairing racial problems because every single person on that stage is willing to admit that there is a problem that needs fixed and that we need to address that head on, rather than, you know, just saying, 'Well, I'm not racist.' Because like Gladys said, we have a whole system that was built on racism.”
On the issue of likability vs. electability
“Electability is important to all of us because we're in the situation we're in. But I did take really to heart what Elizabeth Warren said the first night, and I'm not going to get it exactly right. But she said voting for people out of fear rather than the things we believe in is the wrong choice. And I think she's right on that. But I also think she's a pretty strong candidate, so she would win likability and electability for me.”
David Hughes, 59
On the idea of universal health care or “Medicare for All” plans
“Well I understand that most European countries [and] Canada have essentially universal health care. Having said that and if it wasn't for Medicare — I just had a very minor procedure, I was in and out of a hospital in two hours, it was $8,000. If it hadn't been for Medicare, I'd be in trouble. But I just when we talk about universal health care in this country, I think it's a third rail for Democrats to go. There has to be some option for people, when you refer to employer-based care.”
On why he believes Biden will be the Democratic nominee
“I mean, it's a little early. I think all the candidates are very competent. I would be happy with any one of them in the White House over Trump. I still think it's going to be Biden. I just think he's the most electable. He has an appeal to conservative Democrats, to rural voters, [and the] working class. I just think he's the guy, and I know there's a lot of questions about his age but he looked confident like last night. And I think it's gonna be Biden.”
Cam Hardy, 29
On which candidate is most prepared to bridge the racial divide
“My girlfriend and I were talking about this last night, this very topic, and you know, based off of the person I picked earlier, I would say Kamala Harris would be a person that's equipped to handle it. When I think about race relations and how crippled they are in America, I don't like a person like Biden or you know someone else like that in that stature just does not seem like they would be able to take care of that or to heal.
“He's been around a long time. ... I don't know if experience is necessarily a good teacher in this exact sense.”
On the size of the Democratic field and who is leading
“I think that can't be all about, 'I hate Trump.' I think that in order for a Democrat to win, you have to come with a vision and something about change. That's the way to win. Personally, I think that the size of how many people running is huge. So I don't know who's leading and who's not. I mean, you know, I watched all the debates. But I was pretty bored, you know, like seriously I mean, it's too many people, too many thoughts, too many perspectives … Some should drop out of the presidential race and run for Senate. That's what I think we need to be turning our attention to.”
Christine Zevon, 68
On “Medicare for All” and getting rid of private health insurance
“I'm not in favor of universal health care at all. I feel like you should have private presented to you. I'm on Medicare. I love Medicare. I love it, love it, love it. Great to turn 65 and not even worry about big bills or doctor bills. But having said that, I think people need the option and maybe I'm from the old school, but just to say, 'This is going to be rolled out and it's going to be for all,' does not make sense to me. And how they're going to pay for it does not make sense to me. I think let it continue. Fix the Affordable Health Care Act that President Obama brought in and then go from there because what we have is working, and starting from nothing doesn't sound right to me.”
On how the candidates attacked each other instead of Trump
“I did not like it at all. I thought that there will be a time and a place that they can start ganging up on each other, but I think that what is happening right now with the person in the White House needs to be talked about.
“And I think they should focus on what he has done, let the American people hear it. If they want to add, 'This is how I'm going to make something different,' but it was too much back and forth and I was disappointed.”
This segment aired on August 1, 2019.