The first debate among the fiveDemocratic presidential hopefulswas hosted by CNN in Las Vegas and showed a very strong front-runner Hillary Clinton, who even got support from challenger Bernie Sanderson the email scandal.Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, former Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley and former governor and senator from Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee were the other contenders in the debate, which started 5:30pm local time (8:30 EDT). O'Malley had a good night, outshining Webb and Chafee.

8:00pm – Final statements. The candidates stress how different this debate was from the Republicans' previous debates.

In the reactions, commentators say Clinton showed she is the most experienced debater, and was given a big assist by Bernie Sanders in the email issue. It will now be interesting to see if this debate will shift any numbers in the pools, which Clinton currently fronts.

Marijuana laws

7:45pm – Senator Sanders would vote for the legalization of recreational use of marijuana. Clinton is not ready to take a position, but she does support the use of medical marijuana, asking for more research. "We're just at the beginning, but we've got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana."

Paid family leave

7:41pm – "We can design a system and pay for it that does not threaten small businesses," Clinton says, championing for mandatory paid leave, and accusing Republicans from not minding having the government interfering with women's choices about their body.

Sanders says America is an embarrassment.

Climate change

7:37pm – O'Malley says he's the only candidate with a plan to move America to a 100% clean electric grid by 2050. Webb calls for an "international plan" and Sanders believes"this is a moral issue," quoting Pope Francis, "we've got to be extremely aggressive." Hillary Clinton recalls her and Obama's work "hunting" for the Chinese in 2009, in Copenhagen, which led to China signing an agreement.

7:35pm – The third and last block of the debate opens. Hillary thinks she has "the right combination" for what the country needs. Sanders thinks there is profound frustration in this country about "established politics."

7:26pm – "Being a woman president would be a big change," Hillary states. Bernie Sanders wants to transform America by a "political revolution." Webb doesn't think a revolution is going to come or the Congress will pay for "a lot of this stuff."


7:21pm – Clinton and O'Malley defend their vote for the Patriot Act post-9/11; Sanders would shut down the NSA surveillance program as a President.

"The government is involved in our emails, websites, and corporate America is doing it as well. We have the right to be free," Sanders states. Chafee would bring Edward Snowden home with no charges; Clinton says he broke the laws of the United States and stole important information. O'Malley agrees: "Whistleblowers do not run to Russia and seek protection from Putin." Sanders says there should be a penalty, but he educated the American people. Webb would leave his judgement to the legal system, acknowledging we have a serious problem in the collection of information in this country.


7:15pm – O'Malley wants to open Obamacare to undocumented immigrants and their children, but Hillary Clinton does not want to go that far.

Webb, whose wife is an immigrant from Vietnam, says we need to resolve the border issues. O'Malley calls Donald Trump "carnival barker." Clinton would agree with undocumented immigrants being given community college tuition.

College education and social security

7:09pm – "We don't need a complicated system", Bernie Sanders says, urging for free tuition. Clinton has a plan to address college affordability, including refinancing existing student loan debt. "My plan would allow anyone to go to a community college tuition free," she adds, asking private universities to bring costs down. "I fully support Social Security", she furthers.

How to address Wall Street

7:02 –"The Congress does not regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates the Congress.

We have to break them apart," Sanders argues. Clinton warns people's savings are the one thing that need to be safeguarded.

6:54pm – Sanders talks about jobs. "We need to create millions of jobs, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour," and make "every college tuition free." Clinton says "the economic does better when you have a Democrat president." O'Malley thinks we should separate investment banking from commercial banking, which Sanders agrees to, but Clinton wants better regulation and send executives to jail for wrongdoing.

Racism in America

6:50pm – "Do black lives matter or do all lives matter?," an individual questions over video. Sanders answers "Black Lives matter" and urges the U.S.

to combat installed racism; O'Malley acknowledges "we have undermined the lives of people of color," and says black lives matter. Clinton says Obama has been a great leader in these issues and asks for a reform in criminal justice and tackle mass incarceration. Webb said "every life in the country matters."

Clinton's email scandal

6:46pm – After a short break, the debate resumes. Clinton is confronted with the email probe. "I've taken responsibility for it. What I did was allowed by the State department but wasn't the best choice." She will testify next week. Sanders supported her by saying: "I think the Secretary is right; the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damned emails!" Chafee questions her ethics and she refuses to answer him, something that grants her a standing ovation.

6:21pm – Clinton says the U.S. has to stand up to Russia's Putin; Sanders will do everything he can to make sure America won't step into another quagmire. "I do not support American troops in Syria." O'Malley says the military option should not be off the table, but would be the last resort. Sanders defends himself for having applied as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War.

The gun problem

6:12pm – It's time to talk guns. Sanders: "I've strongly supported background checks," he states. He says he does not want to shield gun companies from legal responsibilities, even though he voted against the Brady law. Clinton says Sanders is not tough enough on guns and we have got to stand up to the NRA and we "lose 9 people a day" from firearms.

"Everybody else in America needs to be accountable but the gun companies and we need to stand up." Webb says "we do need background checks but have to respect the tradition in this country for people that want to defend themselves."

Candidates introduce their principles

6:08pm – O'Malley answers about Baltimore's recent violent past. "A lot of policies led to this unrest," he said, not only his "zero tolerance" policy. Webb clarifies he has always supported affirmative action for African-Americans, even though he's critical of the movement.

6:02pm – Sanders talks about inequality and says the U.S. should look and Scandinavian countries as good examples, for instance with paid parental leave. "I believe in a society where all the people do well and not just a handful." Clinton followed by saying "we are not Denmark" and it is our job to stop the excesses of capitalism.

6:00pm – Clinton gets the first question about changing her mind. "Like most people, I have a range of views but they are rooted by my values and experience." "I'm a Progressive that likes to get things done."

5:57 – Hillary Clinton starts by reminding everyone of her political experience. "I have spent a very long time looking for ways to even the odds," she said. "I have put forward specific plans on how we're going to create good paying jobs," she said, adding companies should share their profits with employees and paid parental leave.

5:55pm – Senator Sanders started off by stating the middle class is disappearing. "Climate change is real, is caused by human activity and we have a moral responsibility," he said.

"We have more people in jail than any other country on Earth," he continued. "Instead of building more jails, we should be putting money into education and jobs for our kids."

5:40pm – Sheryl Crow opened with an emotional performance of the national anthem, followed by a two minute introduction of each of the candidates.

Lincoln Chafee was the first and got the audience's reaction when he stated he "never had any scandals" – a clear reference to Clinton's Benghazi and email use investigations. Webb went second and O'Malley introduced himself third. "We elected a President, not a magician, and there are urgent work that needs to be done right now," he said, referring to outgoing President Obama.