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With 12 candidates crowding the 4th Democratic debate stage, it’s understandable that they couldn’t cover every single issue facing the American people. But many people on social media who were watching the debate complained that some of the more pressing issues were either glossed over or not even addressed at all. 

For instance, the urgent topics of climate change and immigration policy were missing in action during the debate on Tuesday night. Both of those issues have manifested themselves in major ways this year.

But somehow, Anderson Cooper of CNN, which co-sponsored the debate along with the New York Times, wanted to end the event on the most random of notes: by asking the candidates about the contrived (and irrelevant) controversy of Ellen DeGeneres happily sitting next to former President George W. Bush at a football game.

Debate organizers and moderators apparently thought knowing how each candidate’s least likely friendship was forged was more important than asking them a single question about the state of policing in America and the issue of race, two matters that are bound to play a major role with voters of color, one of the most coveted voting demographics. In fact, the only time the topic of policing along racial lines was brought up came from former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. The Texas native took it upon himself to invoke the name of Atatiana Jefferson, the Black woman who was killed after now-former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean killed her in her own home by shooting through her bedroom window at what the Fort Worth Police Department said was a  “perceived threat.”

“I am not going to give these police officers another reason to go door to door in certain communities,” Castro said emphatically before dropping the line of the night. “Because police violence is also gun violence and we need to address that.”

By bringing up Jefferson’s name, Castro was able to do what the debate moderators were not: address both policing and race in one fell swoop.

California Sen. Kamala Harris was able to briefly work the issue of race into one of her answers when she admonished the moderators’ line of questioning about healthcare for not including Black maternal health. “Women will die, poor women, women of color will die,” Harris said before going on to also briefly reference how gun violence disproportionately affects Black people.

But in an upcoming election season where the Black vote is being particularly courted extra aggressively, it was unclear why that particular demographic wasn’t addressed by debate moderators once. Black women have been repeatedly hailed as the backbone of the Democratic Party, yet there was not one question about them. 

That fact was not missed among Twitter users, who sounded off at what they saw as glaring omissions from the fourth debate’s line of questioning from moderators.


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