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Race was a hot-button issue at Tuesday's Democratic debate, with candidates asked to respond to what many have condemned as racist and divisive rhetoric by President Trump.

Driving the news: Author Marianne Williamson had her crystalizing moment with her answers on how to heal racial divides in the U.S., earning huge rounds of applause after proposing $200 billion to $500 billion in reparations for the descendants of slaves and condemning the state of water quality in Flint, Michigan.

"Flint is the tip of the iceberg. I was in Denmark, South Carolina, where there is a lot of talk about it being the next Flint. We have an administration that has gutted the Clean Water Act. We have communities particularly communities of color and disadvantaged communities all over this country who are suffering from environmental injustice. I assure you, I lived in Grosse Pointe, what happened in Flint would not have happened in Grosse Pointe. This is part of the dark underbelly of American society. The racism, the bigotry, and the entire conversation that we're having here tonight, if you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days."
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke

O'Rourke, who recently spoke about revelations that his own ancestors were slave owners, stated: "The legacy of slavery, and segregation, and Jim Crow and suppression is alive and well in every aspect of the economy and in the country today."

  • The Texas Democrat said he will work to address racial disparities in education and health care, in addition to supporting Rep. Sheila Jackson's (D-Texas) reparations bill.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar

When asked about Trump voters who "prioritize the economy over the president's bigotry," Klobuchar responded: "There are people that voted for Donald Trump before that aren't racist... But I don't think anyone can justify what this president is doing. "

  • Klobuchar added that she will seek to improve economic opportunities for African American communities, whom she says are "the ones that have been most hurt by what we've seen in the last decades."
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper

Hickenlooper touted his record on race in Colorado, emphasizing his work in police reform, education reform and affordable housing.

  • "You have to deliver a vision like that for the whole country," he said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren

When asked about how she would combat the rise of white supremacy, Warren stated: "We need to call out white supremacy for what it is: domestic terrorism."

  • She specifically highlighted her education plan, which would increases Pell Grants and "level the playing field" by allocating $50 billion toward historically black colleges and universities.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Having recently dealt with backlash in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana, over an officer-involved shooting, Buttigieg said:

  • "Systemic racism has touched every part of American life, from housing, to health, to home ownership. If you walk into an emergency room and you are black, your reports of pain will be taken less seriously. If you apply for a job and you are black, you are less likely to be called just because of the name on the resume. It's why I have proposed we do everything from investing in historically red line neighborhoods, to build black wealth in home ownership, to supporting entrepreneurship for black Americans."
Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sanders said does not in favor of cash payments to descendants of slaves, but does support Rep. Jim Clyburn's bill that he said focuses "big time" on rebuilding communities suffering from racial disparities. He also emphasized his own "Thurgood Marshall Plan," which would seek to end continued segregation in America's public schools.

Go deeper

D.C.-Beijing tensions are shifting markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. markets stand to lose $2 trillion in value if D.C. and Beijing drift further apart.

Why it matters: Political chasms are showing up in new securities regulations that put companies and investors in a bind. The rules are also another reflection of how much relations between the world’s largest economies have cooled, even as they remain economically interdependent. 

54 mins ago - Health
Axios Investigates

Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on prescription drugs, and the bills keep getting bigger. But some of the companies promising to help rein in those costs prevent employers from looking under the hood.

Why it matters: Documents provided to Axios reveal a new layer of secrecy within the maze of American drug pricing — one in which firms that manage drug coverage for hundreds of employers, representing millions of workers, obscure the details of their work and make it difficult to figure out whether they're actually providing a good deal.

Congress' chip-funding pause raises alarms

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, a plea by the Commerce Secretary and growing desperation from industry officials, Congress still can't get a key bill that funds the U.S. chip business over the finish line.

Why it matters: With the global chip shortage continuing to crimp the economy, the semiconductor industry has ramped up pressure for funding of U.S.-based manufacturing facilities as one remedy.