Here are the 9 biggest moments from the fifth Democratic debate in Atlanta

2020 debate

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Democratic presidential candidates Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders pose together at the start of their fifth 2020 campaign debate at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.

  • On November 20, ten presidential candidates gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, for the fifth Democratic primary debate co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.
  • With less than three months out before the first primary contests take place in Iowa and New Hampshire, the race is quickly heating up.
  • But after two marathon days of explosive impeachment hearings, Wednesday's debate was relatively subdued, with Democrats mostly focusing on the issues and refraining from attacking each other directly.
  • Here are the nine biggest moments from the debate.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. 

On November 20, ten presidential candidates gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, for the fifth Democratic primary debate co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

In order to qualify for the November debate, candidates needed both 165,000 individual donors and to earn either 3% in four DNC-approved national polls or 5% in two approved early-state polls from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada. 

In all, ten candidates made the stage, down from 12 who participated in the October debate. The November debate was moderated by veteran NBC correspondent and host Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, and Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker.

With less than three months out before the first primary contests take place in Iowa and New Hampshire, the race is quickly heating up.

While former Vice President Joe Biden leads most national polls and has a massive lead among both African-American and Latino voters, he's facing fierce competition in Iowa and New Hampshire from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and especially from Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the moderate lane. 

But after two marathon days of explosive impeachment hearings, Wednesday's debate was relatively subdued, with Democrats mostly focusing on the issues and refraining from attacking each other directly. 

Still, the candidates took some shots at each other. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Kamala Harris traded sharp criticisms over each other, and Sen. Cory Booker brought down the house with a zinger against Biden's lack of support for national marijuana legalization. 

Here are the nine biggest moments from the debate:

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Biden made a powerful argument for his candidacy based on the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump

Biden made a powerful argument for his candidacy based on the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump

The House of Representatives is currently pursuing an impeachment inquiry into allegations that the Trump administration leveraged a $400 million military aid package to Ukraine in exchange for the Ukrainian government announcing investigations into the Bidens.

Biden's son Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oil and gas company, from 2014 to 2019. Trump's administration and the GOP have falsely argued that Biden acted improperly by calling for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who they incorrectly claim was investigating Burisma at the time.

After a dramatic day of hearings detailing the extent to which the Trump administration tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, the former vice president made a powerful case arguing that he is so formidable that neither Trump nor Russian President Vladimir Putin wants him to be president.

Joe Biden: "By the way, I learned something about these impeachment trials: I learned No. 1 that Donald Trump doesn't want me to be the nominee. That's pretty clear." pic.twitter.com/V0KTdHcJYM

— Axios (@axios) November 21, 2019

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker politely sparred over Warren's wealth tax plan.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker politely sparred over Warren's wealth tax plan.

Warren and Sen. Cory Booker had a remarkably polite exchange over the details of Warren's wealth tax, which would place a 2% tax on individuals with assets over $50 million and a 6% tax with individuals who hold over one billion in assets.

While Warren asserts that a wealth tax is justified based on the fact that almost every Americans build their wealth based on public resources, Booker said that public policy should focus more on helping Americans become entrepreneurs and build up wealth of their own.

"We as Democrats have got to start talking not just about how we tax from a stage, but how we grow wealth in this country amongst those disadvantaged communities that are not seeing it." Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren square off on the wealth tax. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/968bAfX7po

— CNBC (@CNBC) November 21, 2019

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Kamala Harris sparred and traded criticisms of each other.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Kamala Harris sparred and traded criticisms of each other.

Gabbard and Harris reignited a feud initially sparked during the September Democratic debate, when Gabbard took aim at Harris over her controversial record on criminal justice.

In the November debate, Harris attacked Gabbard for her frequent, pointed criticism of the Democratic party's foreign policy doctrine, which Gabbard casts as promoting dangerous interventionism.

"It's unfortunate that we have someone on this stage who during the Obama administration spent four years full-time on Fox News criticizing President Obama," Harris said.

In turn, Gabbard accused Harris of "trafficking in lies, smears, and innuendos because she cannot challenge the substance of the argument I'm making."

WATCH: Sen. Harris heavily criticizes Rep. Gabbard's record, and Gabbard fires back. pic.twitter.com/7fLwSVpLbu

— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 21, 2019

Sanders pointedly criticized the Israeli government and said the US needs to re-think who their allies are.

Sanders pointedly criticized the Israeli government and said the US needs to re-think who their allies are.

Just a few days after the Trump administration controversially announced it would no longer condemn illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory as "inconsistent with international law," Sanders called out the Israeli government at the debate.

"It is no longer good enough for us to be simply pro-Israel. I am pro-Israel, and we must treat the Palestinian people with the respect and dignity they deserve. The situation in Gaza where youth employment is above 70% is unsustainable. We need to be thinking about who our allies are," Sanders said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden awkwardly put his foot in my mouth in saying America needs to "punch away" at the issue of domestic violence.

Former Vice President Joe Biden awkwardly put his foot in my mouth in saying America needs to "punch away" at the issue of domestic violence.

Biden said repeatedly we have to keep “punching” at the issue of domestic violence.

— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 21, 2019

.@JoeBiden, talking about the problem of domestic violence, says we have to "keep punching at it, punching at it, punching at it" in order for it to end. pic.twitter.com/FuMw1ih74r

— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) November 21, 2019

Harris made a powerful plea to recognize and lift up the voices of black women in the Democratic party.

Harris made a powerful plea to recognize and lift up the voices of black women in the Democratic party.

In an exchange with Buttigieg, Harris called out the Democratic party, for, in her view, taking black voters and especially black women for granted in its electoral politics.

"Candidates have taken certain constituencies for granted, and when it gets near election time they show up to a black church they've never been before.....at some point black women get tired of saying 'thank me for showing up' and say 'show up for me," Harris said.

Sen. Harris on the relationship between the Democratic party and African Americans voters: "The question has to be, 'where you been and what are you going to do?'" #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/bGHKZBKtz2

— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 21, 2019

Biden also falsely claimed that "the only black woman elected to the US Senate" supports his bid for the presidency, which Harris forcefully refuted from the stage.

Biden also falsely claimed that "the only black woman elected to the US Senate" supports his bid for the presidency, which Harris forcefully refuted from the stage.

Biden misspeaks and says he had support from "the only African-American woman that had ever been elected to the United States Senate," before correcting that he meant "first."

Harris's reaction:pic.twitter.com/oIL1hcMfWS

— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 21, 2019

Booker brought down the house with a targeted shot at Biden still declining to endorse marijuana legalization, saying, "I thought you might have been high when you said it."

Booker brought down the house with a targeted shot at Biden still declining to endorse marijuana legalization, saying, "I thought you might have been high when you said it."

.@CoryBooker calls out @JoeBiden for his position that marijuana shouldn't be legalized:

"I thought you might have been high when you said it." pic.twitter.com/5v6i0UqANF

— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) November 21, 2019

Near the end of the debate, Buttigieg and Gabbard traded shots at each other over military policy.

Near the end of the debate, Buttigieg and Gabbard traded shots at each other over military policy.

Buttigieg and Gabbard, the only two military veterans on stage, had a contentious back-and-forth about their respective visions for the US military going forward.

After Gabbard accused Buttigieg of wanting to place US troops in Mexico to fight drug cartels, Buttigieg claimed that Gabbard had taken his remarks out of context, and shot back at her: "I have enough judgment not to sit down with Bashar al Assad," referencing Gabbard's infamous 2017 meeting with the Syrian dictator.

Read more:

Kamala Harris rips into Tulsi Gabbard for being an Assad apologist and Fox News regular who criticizes her own party

Andrew Yang says if he's elected president he'll tell Putin: 'I'm sorry I beat your guy'

Tulsi Gabbard is more well-known after Hillary Clinton took a jab at her, but also less popular

Biden said we need to 'keep punching at' domestic violence and the internet was not amused

Now Tulsi wants in on this, criticizes him for floating idea of sending troops to Mexico.

Pete says she's taking him out of context. Then to Assad:

"If you're talking about experience, let's talk about judgment. I would not have sat down with a murderous dictator like that."

— Eli Stokols (@EliStokols) November 21, 2019
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