On Sunday, CNN hosted town halls for 3 Democratic presidential candidates in Atlanta, Georgia, as part of an effort to allow 3 relatively unknown contenders a chance to pitch themselves to the American people and attract a broader voter base. Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts answered questions at the first town hall moderated by Victor Blackwell. Moulton started by outlining how his gun control platform could have presented the Virginia mass shooting from Friday. He supports bans on high-capacity magazines, suppressors, and semiautomatic assault weapons, and wants extra gun purchase scrutiny. Then he argued that Congress should impeach President Donald Trump and do the right thing. He also laid out his mental health plan of mandatory checkups for veterans and high schoolers and a dedicated hotline for private help. He added he is for equal justice under law for all races. For healthcare, he said he is skeptical of Medicare for all but wants a public option. Moulton concluded by saying he is running in order to unite Americans over shared values and desire to make America better.
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio answered questions at the second town hall moderated by Poppy Harlow. First, he called for the National Rifle Association to support gun reform but did not offer specific proposals. He criticized US trade and tax policy for giving companies incentives to outsource jobs overseas. On climate change, he proposed fighting climate change with a jobs program by boosting the solar, battery, and electric vehicle markets. He also came out in support of impeachment of Trump for obstruction of justice as described in the Mueller report. He cited trade as a top 2020 issue and castigated Trump's trade war for not having a strategy. Finally, Ryan also said he supports a healthcare public option that allows people to buy into a government program like Medicare if they want.
Representative Eric Swalwell of California answered questions at the third town hall moderated by Jim Sciutto. First, he promised in the first 100 days to protect America's elections from foreign interference and restore trust with global allies. He cautioned against impeachment of Trump, saying Congress should first exhaust every other remedy. He added he will implement a mandatory national assault weapons buyback based on Australia's program. Unlike the other two, he came out in support of Medicare for all, as long as people can choose private insurance if they want. He also proposed a plan to help graduates pay off their student debt. Swalwell concluded by showing a vial of insulin and calling for public investments to research cheaper cures.
Although Moulton, Ryan, and Swalwell all answered questions well, garnered much applause, and gave the impression that they truly care about the American people, they still face an uphill battle in the Democratic primary race. First, they are relatively unknown political characters in a crowded primary with big names like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Second, they are all white men, at a time when diversity is more important to voters than ever. Third, history is not on their side. Only James Garfield has gone directly from sitting Congressman to President. Therefore, the three candidates will need outstanding performances at the upcoming debates in order to move on in the nomination battle.