Donald Trump, China and Climate Change: America's Biggest Threats According to Democrats

During the Democratic Party's first primary debate of the 2020 election cycle, ten candidates were asked to name the single greatest geopolitical threat facing the United States. The answer? Mostly Donald Trump, China and climate change.

"What is the biggest threat? Who is the geopolitical threat to the United States? Just give me a one-word answer," NBC's Chuck Todd asked all ten candidates. Wednesday night's debate, the first of 12 over the next year, took place in Miami, Florida, and was moderated by NBC.

Four of the candidates on stage said China posed the most danger to the U.S. Over the past year, the Trump administration has been locked in a bitter trade war with the Chinese government. Only one candidate, Amy Klobuchar, mentioned Iran, after it recently shot down a U.S. drone and President Donald Trump approved, and then cancelled, plans of a retaliatory strike.

Another four candidates listed climate change at the top of their concerns. But Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who is running his 2020 White House bid largely based on climate change issues, said Trump was the biggest threat to the country.

In October 2018, the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report identifying climate change as an existential threat to the world. The experts warned that there is only a dozen years left for global warming to be limited before we worsen the risk of deadly drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was the only candidate to name Russia as the biggest threat to the U.S. after their interference in the 2016 election.

Here's what all of the candidates said on Wednesday:

  • John Delaney: "The biggest challenge is China. The biggest geopolitical threat remains nuclear weapons."
  • Jay Inslee: "The biggest threat to the security of the United States is Donald Trump. No question about it."
  • Tulsi Gabbard: "The greatest threat we face is the fact that we are at greater risk of nuclear war today than ever before in history."
  • Amy Klobuchar: "Economic threat: China. But our major threat right now is what's going on in the Mid-East with Iran."
  • Beto O'Rourke: "Our existential threat is climate change."
  • Elizabeth Warren: "Climate change. "
  • Cory Booker: "Nuclear proliferation and climate change."
  • Julián Castro: "China and climate change."
  • Tim Ryan: "China without a question."
  • Bill de Blasio: "Russia because they are trying to undermine our democracy and they are doing a damn good job of it and we need to stop them."

The first Democratic primary debate will continue on Thursday, as the second set of 10 candidates take the stage. Thursday's debate will feature the race's top contenders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, going head-to-head.

democrats existential crisis debate question
Democratic presidential candidates New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio (L-R), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and former Maryland congressman John Delaney take part in the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty