Here's what's happening:
- The first Democratic debate of the 2016 presidential campaign featured Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.
- It was a critical contest for Clinton, and she put on a dominant performance amid questions about her use of a personal email account for government business while she was secretary of state.
- Moderator Anderson Cooper was also a strong presence, challenging the candidates and keeping them on time.
And now, the weed question. Should it be legalized?
Sanders, who said he smoked pot twice, said he would legalize it. "We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs of Wall Street off and yet we are ... giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana. We need to rethink our criminal justice system."
Clinton, who says she hasn't smoked pot, when asked if she's ready to take a position: "No." "I do support the use of medical marijuana," she said, adding, "I think we're just at the beginning."
Answers on Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who leaked a trove of sensitive information to WikiLeaks:
Question: How would your presidency not be a third term of President Obama?
— Chafee: Ending the wars — Clinton: Being the first woman president — Sanders: "Our government is going to work for all of us and not just a handful of billionaires" —Webb: Using less executive authority — O'Malley: A green energy revolution
Sanders' answer on a question about Hillary Clinton's email scandal brought down the house:
Then they shook hands:
But then the other candidates had to answer the same question and...
Clinton just laid it down after sparring with O'Malley, reminding everyone that he endorsed her for president in 2008.
Chafee was asked about his past comments saying that Clinton should not be allowed to run for president because she voted for the Iraq War:
"If you're going to make those poor judgment calls at a critical time in our history...that's an indication of how someone will perform in the future," Chafee said.
Clinton responded that even though she and Obama differed on the vote for war during the 2012 election, he still chose her to be secretary of state. "What I worry about is what will happen with ISIS gaining more territory, gaining more reach," she said.
Clinton went strong on Sanders' record on guns, saying he didn't support laws that would lead to more stringent laws.
The first question goes to Hillary Clinton, including about her changing her position on same-sex marriage and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. "Do you change your identity based on who you're talking to?" moderator Anderson Cooper asked.
"Like most human beings, I do absorb new information, I do look at what's happening in the world," she said.
"I'm a progressive," she said. "But I'm a progressive who likes to get things done."
Chafee also explained why he left the Republican party:
Here's a quick rundown of the opening statements:
— Chafee said he's never personally experienced a political scandal. — Webb discussed his family's history. His parents were laborers and now their children are successful. — O'Malley touted his record of getting "things done," and discussed economic injustice that threatens to "tear our country apart." — Sanders said "all of the new income and wealth being created is going to the top 1 percent." He also lambasted the campaign finance system, the over-jailing of black men, and mobilizing people "to take back our government" from billionaires. — Clinton led with specific plans. "I have spent ... my entire adult life looking for ways to even the odds" for people to get ahead." She said the center of her campaign is "raising wages," making the tax system fair for the middle class, and paid family leave.
Here is some great pro-debate analysis by BuzzFeed News's political reporters:
Five Democrats will square off in their first debate of the 2016 presidential campaign season on Tuesday evening, and all eyes will be on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's performance.
The debate, sponsored by Facebook and aired on CNN, will take place at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas.
Hillary Clinton is hoping a strong performance will finally put aside persistent questions about her use of a personal email account for government business while she was in the Obama administration. Her allies have pushed the message in recent days that she is the true progressive in the race and is the candidate who had plans and policies that she could actually put into practice.
Sanders, who has enjoyed unexpected popularity around the country, is hoping to rally more support for his unabashedly socialist message.
The contest is the first time these two candidates — along with former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb — will have to directly address each other and their positions. —Tom Namako