Three main contestants in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in the US have sparred over healthcare.
The debate in Houston, Texas, the third since the 2020 electioneering began, was the first time former vice-president Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders clashed on stage.
Former Texas lawmaker Beto O’Rourke drew some of the biggest applause with an impassioned plea for gun control.
But the legacy of President Barrack Obama came up repeatedly, while there were also questions on immigration and climate change.
Yet, it was healthcare which triggered the fiercest face-offs.
On the divisive issue of how to reform the US healthcare system, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren both said they backed Medicare for All. That, they argued, would expand an existing federally run programme for the elderly to cover all Americans in a single-payer insurance system.
Mr. Biden criticised Mr. Sanders’ Medicare for All plan as being too expensive to work, insisting that America should focus on improving Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act instead.
The winner of the Democratic race, who should emerge by mid-next year, will almost certainly to be facing President Donald Trump, the Republican Party favourite, in the November 2020 election.
Only the ten highest-polling Democrats were eligible to take part in Thursday’s debate.
Currently, Mr. Biden is leading the polls by a considerable margin, with Massachusetts Senator Ms. Warren and Vermont Senator Mr. Sanders in second and third.
The rest of the Democratic field are polling in single digits.