By the Numbers: Kids in the Democratic Presidential Debate

Children of Immigrants
Children on the Ballot
Early Childhood
Poverty & Family Economics

Tuesday night, Democrats took the stage for their first 2016 presidential debate. Many issues from gun control to income inequality were discussed and fortunately for children and families, their well-being was brought up across multiple policy areas.

The debate featured five candidates: former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee, and former Vermont senator Jim Webb.

When assessing the numbers of how children fared in the discussion, the words “kid,” “children,” and “child” appeared 25 times. Similar terms such as “baby,” “childhood,” “youth,” and “grandchildren” were noted total of 12 times. Additionally, “family” was stated 29 times during the debate.


The candidates mentioned and debated key concerns in America related to children and families. Particular interest was shown to paid family medical leave. Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley all mentioned their support and noted the importance of family and work balance. O’Malley stated, “My wife, Katie, is here with our four kids. And, man, that was a juggle when we had little kids and — and keeping jobs and moving forwards. We would be a stronger nation economically if we had paid family leave.”
Sanders recognized the United States has fallen behind many other countries:

“Every other major country on Earth, every one, including some small countries, say that when a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby. We are the only major country. That is an international embarrassment that we do not provide family — paid family and medical leave.”

Universal health insurance was also discussed, including the importance of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage to 8 million children. And expanding health care coverage to immigrant children made it into the conversation with Sanders and O’Malley in support and Clinton stating, “I want to make sure every child gets health care. That’s why I helped to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and I want to support states that are expanding health care and including undocumented children and others.”

Supports for quality education for children, regardless of income status, neighborhood, or citizenship were mentioned. As O’Malley said, “The more our children learn, the more they will earn, and that’s true of children who have yet to be naturalized…”

And Clinton agreed: “We need to be committed to making it possible for every child to live up to his or her god given potential. That is…really hard to do if you don’t have early childhood education…if you don’t have schools that are able to meet the needs of the people, or good housing, there’s a long list…”

References to child poverty and foster care also occurred, but were brief. However, we did not hear any remarks of other important issues for children, such as nutrition, juvenile justice, homelessness, child abuse or neglect and others.

We hope candidates on both sides of the 2016 presidential race will focus more attention on these crucial child topics in future debates, as they are critical to our nation’s success.

By the Numbers: Kids in the Democratic Presidential Debate via @Campaign4Kids #InvestInKids
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