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Democratic hopefuls show united front for Trump's impeachment

But debate also featured differences on policy details with few of the attacks of earlier debates

ATLANTA: Democratic White House contenders united in supporting the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump at a debate on Wednesday that featured differences on policy details but few of the bitter attacks that marked earlier encounters.

During the fifth debate in the Democratic race to pick a challenger to Mr Trump in the November 2020 election, the 10 candidates aired differences on healthcare and taxing the wealthy, but kept the exchanges largely polite and instead heaped criticism on Mr Trump.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren, the progressive who has pushed ambitious plans to tax wealth and create a government-run healthcare plan, and Mr Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has been rising in the polls, escaped sustained criticism from their rivals.

Mr Buttigieg, running to be the first openly gay president, was pressed on his failure to make inroads with African-Americans and drew a parallel to his experience being gay.

"I do not have the experience of ever being discriminated against because of the colour of my skin," he said.

"I do have the experience of feeling like a stranger in my own country, turning on the news and seeing my own rights coming up for debate."

DOUBLE STANDARD

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, who questioned if a woman with his experience would make the debate stage, said Mr Buttigieg deserved his standing but there was a double standard when it came to women candidates.

"Otherwise, we could play a game called 'Name your favourite woman president,'" Ms Klobuchar said. No woman has served as US president.

"If you think a woman can't beat Trump, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi does it every day."

Hours after the fourth day of public impeachment hearings in Congress, the candidates blasted Mr Trump and said his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden were an example of the administration's corruption.

The House of Representatives has launched an impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump's bid to get Ukraine to probe Mr Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

The candidates said Mr Trump's actions forced lawmakers to hold him accountable.

"We have to establish the principle that no one is above the law, we have a constitutional responsibility and we need to meet it," Ms Warren said.

She said she would try to persuade Senate Republicans that the president should be removed.

Asked if he would support a criminal investigation into Mr Trump after he leaves the White House, Mr Biden said he would leave it to the Department of Justice to decide whether Trump should be prosecuted for his actions. - REUTERS

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