Influential Michigan Democrat: South Carolina Debate Was ‘A Disgrace’

February 26, 2020 Updated: February 26, 2020
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Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) called on the 2020 Democratic candidates to focus their attention on other issues instead of trying to destroy one another after Tuesday night’s debate in South Carolina.

“It was a disgrace,” Dingell said on Wednesday. “It was a circular firing squad. They’re forgetting about what we need to be focused on.”

Even though she is a first-term member of Congress, Dingell was married to longtime Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who was the son of a Democratic Congressman. When Dingell died in February of last year, his wife ran for his seat and won.

“They’re contributing to the fear and hatred in this country. I’m sure Russia and China were delighted at their performance,” she told Fox News.

Some critics have panned the CBS moderation team for failing to get the candidates under control, but Dingell suggested she doesn’t agree with that assessment.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary
Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Tom Steyer walk on stage prior to the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“It was disgusting. They [talked over] each other. They fought each other. They came with lines to destroy each other,” Dingell told the news outlet. “They are all strong candidates,” said Dingell, “but if they keep tearing each other apart, they are helping each other make sure none of them are strong at the top of the ticket.”

During the debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the current frontrunner, came under sustained attack by the other candidates who tried to paint him as a sympathizer to communist regimes. Sanders said he denied that he supports authoritarianism.

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg warned that if Sanders became the nominee, he would be easily defeated by incumbent President Donald Trump, who would focus on Sanders’ support of socialist policies.

“If you think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders v Donald Trump,” he said during the debate. Sanders denied that his policies are radical and said, “I’m hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight. I wonder why.”

The South Carolina primary takes place on Saturday and will be the first state to feature a plurality of black voters. Days later, on the March 3 Super Tuesday, candidates will be vying for more than a third of the delegates.