Bernie Sanders lashed out at a Democratic rival as the first debate in Detroit opened with a heated and lengthy row over healthcare options.
The veteran senator from Vermont, who is a longtime champion of a universal healthcare system that would cover all Americans, said his plans would include dental care, hearing aids and glasses for the elderly.
He was challenged by Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, who said: “You don’t know that.”
Mr Sanders angrily retorted: “I do know that, I wrote the damn bill!”
The exchange represented one of the main themes of the evening, as progressive candidates like Mr Sanders and Elizabeth Warren went on the attack against more moderate rivals like Mr Ryan and John Delaney.
Mr Delaney warned that progressive healthcare plans like Mr Sanders’ Medicare for All bill would take private insurance away from many Americans and increase taxes on the middle classes.
The former Maryland congressman asked: “Why do we have to be the party of taking something away from people?” He said Mr Sanders and Ms Warren were “running on telling half the country that your health insurance is illegal”.
Mr Delaney added: “We have a choice: we can go down the road that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren want to take us, which is with bad policies like Medicare for All, free everything and impossible promises. It will turn off independent voters and get Trump reelected.
Ms Warren hit back, saying: “We’re not trying to take healthcare away from anyone. That’s what Republicans are trying to do.”
Mr Sanders said: “Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. I believe that, I will fight for that.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies