The upcoming Democratic presidential debates will tell us a lot — not only about the candidates but also about journalists, a group often accused of liberal bias.
In 2016, reporters asked Republican presidential candidates whether they would attend a gay wedding. In 2012, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney whether he thought states had the right to ban contraception. In a 2007 debate, Republican candidates were asked whether they did not believe in evolution and answered by raising their hands.
For years, the news media have drilled Republicans on cultural issues, seeking information on where candidates stand on some of the most sensitive and divisive topics imaginable.
With the first 2020 Democratic debates coming in a double-header next week in Miami, here are a few questions that would be equally tough on the 20 Democratic candidates who made the cut.
Immigration, #MeToo and socialism
►Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said President Bill Clinton should have resigned because of his treatment of women. Do you agree Clinton should have stepped down as president due to his me-too problem?
►Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said she was fine with noncitizens voting in some local elections. Are there any elections in which you would support allowing noncitizens the right to vote, or do you flat-out oppose allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote in any election?
►If illegal immigrants commit felonies, will you allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport them?
►Aside from those who commit felonies, are there any illegal immigrants you would support deporting?
It’s not just cultural issues that need to be probed. Economics and the Democratic candidates’ growing support for socialism are prime areas for questioning:
►What should the highest marginal income tax rate be? It’s currently 37%.
►How do you define “fair share”? The top 10% of taxpayers, people making more than $139,713 a year, made almost 47% of the nation’s income but paid nearly 70% of all income taxes. What percent of the income tax should they pay? And I repeat, they make just 47% of the nation’s income.
►What is more important — equality of opportunity or equality of outcome?
►And for democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, have you ever flown first class?
Is Bergdahl a traitor? And what about Iran?
Foreign policy issues also need to be raised:
►Will you close the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and move it back to Tel Aviv?
►Will you re-sign the Iran nuclear deal, the same one President Barack Obama negotiated?
►President Obama promised to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Will you make a similar pledge, and if so, to where will you move Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the September 11th attacks? Or would you consider releasing him?
►Did President Obama do the right thing when he released five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl?
►Do you consider Bergdahl a traitor?
►Will you pledge not to use Fusion GPS for any of your opposition research?
The first pair of debates is June 26-27. I can’t wait to watch.
Ari Fleischer was White House spokesman in the George W. Bush administration. Follow him on Twitter: @AriFleischer.