Mid-Missouri for Bernie Sanders hosted watch party Tuesday

The debate proved to be less heated than the Republican debates, with candidates and attendees agreeing on many issues.

The first Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night proved to be a relatively amicable exchange between the 2016 primary candidates. Controversial issues such as immigration reform and income inequality seemed to unite the candidates in what Hillary Clinton said was "different from what you hear at Republican meetings."

Mid-Missourians for Bernie Sanders organized a watch party at Rose Music Hall to show the debate. An almost unnavigable crowd filled the venue, and a majority of the attendees were dressed in Bernie Sanders merchandise. Media Relations Coordinator Laura Mikytuck said the turnout was higher than they expected. Persephone Dakopolos, a campaign manager overseeing communications and finance teams for Mid-MO for Bernie, posted on the group’s Facebook event page that 463 people attended.

The crowd filled both the inside of the hall and the outside patio, both of which had screens to show the debate. A couple rows of seats near the stage inside were filled with attendees of various ages.

Sophomore Nora Faris sat in the front row. She said she is "still in the learning process … figuring out where my loyalties lie." Although she is rooting for Republican candidates Sen. Marco Rubio and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, Faris thinks that it is important to watch both Democratic and Republican debates in order to get both sides of the story.

“No matter where they come from, America needs a leader who understands politics, economics and our history,” Faris said. "They need to have a great vision for where America is going."

The Democrats focused on the progress of the U.S. The majority of the candidates agreed that the country needs immigration reform so undocumented immigrants can have the same opportunities as citizens, such as in-state tuition.

The candidates also agreed on the disintegration of big banks. Sanders was the biggest advocate for this, stating several times that the U.S. government has focused too much on corporations, bailing out banks and giving tax breaks to the wealthy.

"Congress doesn't regulate Wall Street," Sanders said to a wave of cheers that echoed through Rose Music Hall. "Wall Street regulates Congress."

Other major issues the Democrats debated were mass incarceration and social injustice. When asked by an audience member via Facebook if “black lives matter or do all lives matter,” all five candidates responded in agreement to the former, saying that the rate of incarceration of black men is unacceptable. The candidates proposed providing occupational opportunities to minorities instead of incarceration. This was applied to those indicted for marijuana possession as well. Clinton proposed tackling mass incarceration and policing reforms to help children in these situations to live up to their “God-given potential.”

Despite the almost unanimous opinion on these policies and reforms, there appeared to be a few discrepancies concerning the candidates' positions on other issues.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who moderated the debate, called Sanders out on his varying opinions on immigration reform and gun control. Cooper also questioned whether his socialist views and his objections to the Vietnam War would make him a viable candidate.

Mikytuck said Sanders is a trustworthy candidate because his stance on issues has been the same for years, and he has policies to back up his propositions.

Clinton was accused of changing her opinions, especially about marriage equality and trade agreements. She emphasized her conviction in her values and principles, and backed up her policies with experience.

Clinton said she has participated in discussions about Middle East foreign policy with President Barack Obama, and that he has had to make difficult decisions.

"It's not about getting to the perfect conclusion, but balancing the risk," Clinton said.

Hillary supporters at the watch party raised cheers when the former secretary of state declined to answer questions about her controversial email use during her time in office.

“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” Sanders said.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley responded to Sanders’ declaration by insisting that the debaters “talk about issues that matter to most people,” such as college students’ debt, which won more roaring agreement from the music hall’s crowd.

O’Malley touted his record of legislation passed during his term as governor. He claimed that his administration raised the minimum wage, passed marriage equality legislation, and set Baltimore, which has been experiencing violence and unrest, “on the path to intolerance of violence.” He also advocated strongly for a clean energy grid by 2050.

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb stressed the importance of “common sense” foreign policy. Webb was the only senator to vote against the Iraq War and believes that China's economic and environmental policies are a threat to U.S. efforts.

Former Rhode Island Gov. and Sen. Lincoln Chafee said he believes in honesty and that he has not been involved in any scandals. He said credibility is important, as are environmental reforms and national security.

Mikytuck said she hoped the debate helped give Sanders more recognition and educate voters about the other candidates.

“I hope this was a chance for everyone to gauge the values of each candidate,” Mikytuck said.

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