Voters' questions for presidential candidates


Democrats will face off for the 10th presidential debate on Tuesday in South Carolina. The debate is the last chance for candidates to share their platform before the state’s primary on February 29.

CBS News is co-hosting the debate with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute in Charleston.

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“CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell and “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King will moderate the debate. They will be joined in questioning by “Face the Nation” moderator and senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan, chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett and “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker.

It will be streamed live on CBSN, CBS News’ free 24/7 streaming service, and appear in its entirety on BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS. Twitter is a debate partner, and voters can use the hashtag #DemDebate to submit questions that might be posed to the candidates.

Ahead of the debate, CBS News asked voters across the country about what questions they would like answered by the field of Democratic candidates. Their questions covered everything from immigration, to climate change, to health care.  

Health Care

Gabriella Fine, from Silver Spring, Maryland, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 10 years old and needs insulin to survive. She wants to know how candidates would “prevent pharmaceutical companies from driving up the costs of life-saving drugs.”

Jeremy Lai, a resident physician, said the U.S. is “predicted to have a shortage of 120,000 doctors by 2030.”

He said he wanted to ask candidates, “ow do we prepare to care for our citizens in the coming future?”


Koh Yamakawa, a college student from Dublin, Ohio, said he has a friend whose parents are being deported in two years “because of President Trump’s immigration policies.” Yamakawa wants to know what candidates can do to help his friend’s parents “and undo the past.”

Cesar Montelongo is a DACA recipient and a medical student. He said he was not able to immediately attend medical school due to his legal status as an undocumented immigrant. 

“My question to the candidates is, ‘how would you galvanize Congress so that they can pass relief and supportive legislation for refugees and undocumented immigrants?” Montelongo said.

Criminal Justice

Akiva Frishman, a 23 year old paralegal from Minnesota looking to become a civil rights attorney, wanted to know how candidates planned to address the problems within the justice system.

“Today, more than 2 million Americans sit behind bars in our nation’s correctional facilities,” Frishman said. “The overwhelmingly disproportionate number of whom are people of color and those with mental illness.”

He said he wanted to ask candidates: “As president, what do you plan to do to bring more attention to this issue and actually solve it?”    


Gali Gordon’s great grandparents fled the Russian empire and came to the United States before World War I. 

“We’re concerned about the resurgence of anti-Semitism across the United States that has turned deadly in the past few months,” Gordon said. He asked candidates what their plan is “to combat this rising hatred.”

LGBTQ+ Rights 

Transgender advocate Julia Abad wanted to know how candidates will “protect the LGBTQ community through actions and policies, specifically ones that protect trans women of color.”

Mental Health

Jael Burks, from Atlanta, Georgia, wanted to know about the candidates’ plans “to fund and combat the mental health and addiction crisis in America?”

Climate Change

Sachi Yuan, a college student in Berkeley, California, wants to know what candidates are going to do about climate change, and what “real action” they will take.

Disability Rights

Tyler and Maura Caldwell have a 4 year old son named Benjamin with special needs from meningitis as an infant.

“In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandating that all students with disabilities be provided a free public education,” Maura said. “However, since then it has never been fully funded.” 

Tyler said they’d like to know what candidates “will do to ensure adequate funding for students like our son and all public school students?”


Sarah Dusseult, from Pasadena, California, said she became an advocate for the homeless 20 years ago, when her brother first experienced homelessness due to mental illness.  

“Every night, over half-a-million people are without a home,” Dusseult said. Her question to candidates is: What are they going to do “to address this crisis immediately, partnering with state and local government.”


Shannon Creswell said she switched from being a Democrat to an Independent “due to the DNC failures on the current platform.”

She she she wanted to ask candidates, “if you were the nominee, how as the de facto leader of the Democratic party, would you do damage control… and woo back people like myself?”

The Economy

Sylvia McCown, a volunteer at a food pantry in Flint, Michigan, said she meets a lot of people who are working full-time at minimum wage jobs, but still can’t make ends meet. 

She said she’d ask candidates what they can do “to provide additional help for these people?” 

Natasha Jones asked, as a mother of two teenagers who are about to go to college, “how do you address the rising cost and quality of education and the debt burden associated with it?”

Gilbert Placeres, from Miami, Florida, was concerned with future generations’ financial future.

“As young people, we face a difficult economic future. Students’ debt is astronomical, home ownership has become inaccessible in many places, and climate change will play an increasing cost in our communities,” he said. 

“My question is: What will you do to ensure young people will see themselves thriving in the future of this country?”