October 15, 2019 - Opponents Challenge Warren on Health Care Plan

After rising in polls throughout the summer, Warren is a focus for attack in the fourth Democratic presidential debate. Buttigieg argues she lacks a health care plan: “Your signature, senator, is to have a plan for everything — except this.” Buttigieg is not alone in pushing Warren for more specifics on her health care plan (in fact, Klobuchar’s attack that Warren’s Medicare for All proposal was a “pipe dream” garnered attention and support during and after the debate), but the contrast between his criticism and his own approach is notable. In the three months between launching an exploratory committee and officially announcing his candidacy for president, Buttigieg offered little in the way of a policy platform. When pushed on this in April 2019, Buttigieg told The New York Times that he did not believe the Democratic race would hinge on “who has the most elegant policy design” and argued it would be “inauthentic” to make too many detailed promises. While his campaign did go on to provide more detail on his own policy agenda, Buttigieg’s demand for specificity from Warren both signals a standard to which he did not hold himself and evidences a possible downside to Warren’s content-heavy strategy: in distinguishing herself as the most prepared candidate, the completeness of that preparation becomes a site for contention that others who never claimed the same level of preparedness do not have to address.