Democrats at debate say they would not cozy up to dictators, in contrast to Trump

Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris
Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

Candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination signaled Wednesday that they would stand up for human rights and take a less friendly approach to autocrats if they were to succeed President Trump .

California Sen. Kamala Harris said Trump had “traded a photo-op for nothing” in his summit meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. She said she would make no concessions in talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

“Donald Trump got punked,” she said.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker vowed to “call China out for its human rights violations” against Hong Kong protesters and the Uighurs in western China.


Democratic presidential candidates discuss how they would address the issue of housing affordability. “Housing is how we build wealth in America,” Elizabeth Warren says.

Booker also pounded Trump for his refusal to hold Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable in the killing and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Booker suggested the United States should block weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. “Make them the pariah that they are,” he said.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont echoed the point. Klobuchar said Trump had sent a signal to dictators the world over that the slaying of Khashoggi was OK. “That’s wrong,” she said.


Sanders called the Saudi regime “a brutal dictatorship” and unreliable U.S. ally that treats women as third-class citizens.