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Crowds gather outside Fox Theatre for first night of Democratic presidential debates

People packed the city blocks surrounding Detroit’s Fox Theatre Tuesday night to greet the opening of two nights of debates among the crowded field of Democrats running for president. The crowd included people demonstrating about climate change and income inequality. Also, supporters of the candidates came out. Many of the people chanted slogans and held signs to support a favorite candidate.

people carrying protest signs down a Detroit street
Credit Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Many rallied in the streets of Detroit Tuesday, July 30, 2019.

Kimberly Hill Knott of Detroit says she would like to see a change in the White House, but is still undecided on who she’d choose to be the Democratic nominee.

“I am here because I am really interested in what the candidates are going to talk about from their urban economic agenda to climate change to environmental justice, tariffs,” she says.

Knott says she thinks metro Detroit’s real unemployment rate is higher than the official number of 8.8 %. So, to her, job training and help for small businesses are important. She also cares about climate change and environmental justice.

Some Republicans were also present to display their opposition – especially to the “Green New Deal” that some Democratic candidates support.

David Dudenhofer chairs the 13th Congressional District Republican Committee.

Detroit's Fox Theatre with CNN democratic debate signs
Credit Malak Silmi / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The Fox Theatre on July 30, 2019.

“My concern really is about the direction of socialism, and we all as Americans be united against any form of government that seeks to control people, control productivity or labor, or natural resources,” he says.

Ten candidates were in the line-up for the first night of the CNN debates. Another 10 will face-off in the second debate Wednesday night.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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