Buttigieg noted that he leads a diverse city and that while he has never experienced discrimination based on the color of his skin, he’s had, as a gay man, “the experience of sometimes feeling like a stranger in my own country.” Harris did not back down, however, from her larger implied argument against Buttigieg—that Democrats need, as they had in Barack Obama, “a leader who had worked in many communities, knows those communities, and has the ability to bring people together.”

When Booker next got a chance to speak, he jumped back to that discussion, drawing laughs when he noted that he had been excluded the first time around. “I have a lifetime of experience with black voters. I’ve been one since I was 18,” he said. “Nobody on this stage should need a focus group to hear from African American voters.”

“Black voters are pissed off, and they’re worried,” he continued. “They’re pissed off because the only time [their issues are paid attention] by politicians is when people are looking for their vote … We don’t want to see people miss this opportunity and lose because we are nominating someone that isn’t trusted, doesn’t have authentic connection. And so that’s what’s on the ballot.”