From shouts of "Fire Pantaleo!" to familiar questions about Mayor Bill de Blasio's record, New York City issues found their way into day 2 of the second Democratic presidential debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.


Eric Garner supporters have ramped up their pressure on the mayor in the past few weeks, demanding he immediately fire NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in Garner's death on Staten Island in 2014. Those protesters made their way to Detroit, chanting "Fire Pantaleo!" during de Blasio and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's opening remarks before security removed them.




Not long after, CNN moderators questioned de Blasio for not firing the officer, with the mayor repeating his defense: New York City is waiting on the departmental trial, and the DOJ is at fault for not bringing charges.




However, a fellow New Yorker on the debate stage, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, took a much sharper approach, saying she would have fired the officer.




Pantaleo wasn't the only New York City topic de Blasio couldn't escape. He was also questioned about his handling of the NYCHA lead paint crisis. A moderator asked de Blasio how he could handle a similar lead crisis like the one Flint, Michigan, faced when his own city's public housing has seen elevated lead levels under his watch.

The mayor defended his handling of the crisis, going to a frequent defense that NYCHA's problems predate his administration and can be attributed to federal disinvestment in public housing. Instead, de Blasio said, the way his administration has responded to reduce lead paint could set examples for the rest of the nation.




NYCHA's federal monitor in June claimed the health and safety of children in public housing units were at risk, accusing the interim chair of misleading the public. And a plan that NYCHA developed in late May showed that the housing authority was still out of compliance with lead paint regulations, and that it had recently failed to conduct timely follow up testing with dust wipes after removing potential lead paint hazards in 64 percent of apartments with small children.


De Blasio and Gillibrand defended their more liberal campaign platforms on health care and immigration on the debate stage.

The mayor unabashedly touted his support for ending the private insurance marketplace for "Medicare for All," arguing Americans are not pleased with their insurance. Gillibrand also criticized the private industry for what she said was "for-profit" greed.



Both New Yorkers used their liberal platforms on immigration to lambast larger national figures. Gillibrand stated her support for decriminalizing currently illegal border crossings, saying immigrants should be charged with civil violations. She said the current immigration policies of the Donald Trump administration are exacerbating migrants' plights.




For his part, de Blasio used his immigration stance to attack Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, asking him why he didn't push President Barack Obama to end or curb deportations. In response, the former vice president pointed to the Obama administration's support for DACA.

"I don't hear an answer from the vice president," de Blasio asked in response. "Did you say those deportations were a good idea, or did you go to the president and say, 'This is a mistake, we shouldn't do it.' Which one?"

"I was vice president. I am not the president. I keep my recommendation in private. Unlike you. I'd expect you would go ahead and say whatever was said privately," Biden said to de Blasio in response.




A lack of commitment to protecting immigrants is a criticism New York City activists have levied at the mayor himself, noting that he has allowed the NYPD to deport undocumented immigrants with violent crimes on their records.


Overall, de Blasio frequently took aim at Biden, even posing his own questions to the former vice president, seemingly in an attempt to breathe attention into his campaign.

About two hours into the debate, Biden remarked on the constant attention from the mayor, saying he appreciated de Blasio's "affection" for him.





Voters won't head to the polls in the Democratic primary for about another six months, but this second debate was seen as do or die for many candidates' campaigns. It is possible that not even half of the 20 candidates who qualified for the second debate will make it on the stage in September, as the rules for the third debate will make it harder for some of the lower-polling candidates to qualify.

The polling and fundraising thresholds will both be higher for the third Democratic debate, and candidates will have to meet both thresholds instead of just one.

To qualify for the third debate, candidates must receive 2 percent or more in at least four qualified polls. They must also receive donations from at least 130,000 donors, and from 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states.

As of July 12, according to FiveThirtyEight, only five candidates met both thresholds so far: Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Per the RealClearPolitics polling average, de Blasio is averaging 0.8 percent in national polls, and Gillibrand is averaging 0.5 percent. They may not be faring any better in statewide polls either. A recent Quinnipiac University poll asked 500 Democratic voters in Ohio who they would vote for in the Democratic primary: none chose de Blasio or Gillibrand.

The deadline for the candidates to hit both thresholds is August 28, so de Blasio and Gillibrand will hope their debate performance give them a polling bump — like Harris received after the first debate — and generate more interest and donations to reach the third debate threshold.


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Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.