Over 15 million television viewers tuned in on Wednesday night as two Texas Democrats and eight other Democratic presidential hopefuls squared off in the first presidential debate of the 2020 cycle.
On Wednesday night, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke was positioned in center stage near Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and opened his answers in the debate in Spanish. His Spanish response set the pace for the evening as Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Texan Julian Castro, the former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, also answered questions in Spanish.
It was a cordial affair most of the evening between the two Texans until the topic of immigration was raised. Castro accused O’Rourke of not supporting decriminalizing border crossings. Castro then called upon O’Rourke to support repealing Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
"I just think it's a mistake, I think it's a mistake, Beto, and I think if you truly want to change the system, then we got to repeal that section," Castro said. "If not, it might as well be the same policy."
O’Rourke responded to Castro, saying he was narrowly looking at a small part of the issue, instead calling for a “comprehensive” change to immigration laws.
The exchange drew praise for Castro and criticism for O’Rourke, but it was not the only part of the evening for which the El Paso Democrat received criticism. O’Rourke was also criticized by some pundits for his exchanges with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, in which some felt O’Rourke was not forceful enough in articulating his positions.
While ten Democrats were on stage last night, ten others will take the stage tonight. That debate will be broadcast on NBC networks and Telemundo.