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Photo courtesy CNN

The rest of the field clearly thinks that Elizabeth Warren has passed Joe Biden as the Democrats' 2020 frontrunner, and the attacks rained in on her at last night's 12-pack debate outside Columbus, Ohio.

The state of play: Even Biden piled on Warren, over Medicare for All. Every conversation about whether taxes would go up under Medicare for All, and every dodge, threatened to eat away at Warren's image as a truth-teller.

  • As Axios' Alexi McCammond notes from the debate at Otterbein University, in Westerville, Ohio: What's a plan if you don't clearly articulate the specifics of what that means for Americans?
  • Warren racked up the most speaking time out of any candidate, a byproduct of the onslaught.

Other takeaways from the Axios politics team:

  • Biden is trying to use the Obama years — and one Senate accomplishment, the assault weapons ban — to pitch himself as the one who can get big things done. But he seemed to get flustered easily.
  • Biden's best moment was a fiery exchange over Medicare for All, where he was the moderate and Warren was the leftist activist. This yielded fodder to help the Trump campaign label Warren as a socialist. Republican officials tell us that's their most resonant message against her.
  • Bernie's back! After his heart attack and major surgery, he exuded his usual passion. He said he's feeling great, thanked his supporters and then moved on and didn't dwell on his health.
  • Part of the reason Pete Buttigieg, who had his most aggressive night so far, swung at everyone: More fodder for fundraising emails.
  • Cory Booker thinks his ticket to longevity in the race is to be the peacemaker.

Joe Biden on Hunter Biden:

"Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. And that's what we should be focusing on. ... My son's statement speaks for itself."

Go deeper: 5 takeaways from the debate

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Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.

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