As President Trump pro-longed the war in Afghanistan, Democrats ramped up their campaigns heading into this week’s pivotal debate in Houston.
“The future doesn’t have to be a dark place,” candidate Pete Buttigieg said in a speech to the New Hampshire Democratic Convention. “I can’t wait for a future where we look back in pride on the choices that we made in 2020. I can’t wait to tell my future children what we did to set them up for success.”
Buttigieg, the gay Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has climbed to as high as fifth in a recent poll by Politico. He isone of 10 Democrats who qualified for the debate stage Sept. 12.
The Democratic National Committee raised requirements for this debate, requiring candidates to have at least two percent support in four different surveys while amassing 130,000 unique donors. Joining Buttigieg in the debate are former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke, venture capitalist Andrew Yang and former Housing & Urban Development secretary Julian Castro.
ABC News and Spanish language network Univision are airing the debate, hosted by Texas Southern University, Thursday from 8 to 11 p.m. EST.
Elsewhere, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York withdrew from the race. Gillibrand, who declared she was going to ‘Clorox the Oval Office,’ did not qualify for the Houston debate. Other candidates who did qualify but are still in the race include, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, spiritual author Marianne Williamson, Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard, former Maryland representative John Delaney, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Navy Admiral Joe Sestak and billionaire Tom Steyer.
Meanwhile, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford announced intentions to seek the Republican party’s nomination. Sanford, 59, said the country is financially vulnerable and there needs to be a conversation about what it means to be a Republican. He joins former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and talk radio host Joe Walsh as primary challengers to President Trump.
Seemingly ignoring his GOP rivals, Trump spent the week trolling CNN on Twitter over its hurricane Dorian coverage and touting the monthly jobs report that showed nearly 160 million people employed in the United States. He also canceled a meeting with the President of Afghanistan and Taliban leaders after learning 12 people, including a U.S. soldier were killed in the war.
“How many more decades are they willing to fight?,” Trump tweeted.
Appearing on the CBS Late Show, Buttigieg told host Stephen Colbert, the Afghanistan government needed to become more involved in the peace talks, saying they have been on the “sidelines” of this process. Buttigieg, a lieutenant in the Navy Reserves, deployed to Afghanistan in 2014.
“When you make peace with somebody, you make peace with your enemy – that’s what it is to come to the table,” Buttigieg said, adding “but at the end of the day, we’ve got to leave.”
On Oct. 7, 2001, the U.S. launched an invasion of Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the homeland. The war has claimed the lives of 2,419 U.S. service members and wounded 19,950.
“The question is are we going to leave well or are we going to leave poorly,” Buttigieg said. “We’ve got to leave with whatever assurances we need on keeping the American homeland safe but without getting sucked into a generation of guaranteeing all that needs to go right with the Afghan government.”