debate Photo courtesy Arizona Secretary of State.

Arizonans were given one final chance to see the Democratic presidential hopefuls debate Tuesday night before the state’s Presidential Preference Election ballots are mailed out on Feb. 19.

The debate, held in Des Moines, Iowa, included Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, and Elizebeth Warren. Six other candidates failed to qualify for the debate, including tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire Mike Bloomberg.

Foreign policy took center stage as the debate began, with all six candidates weighing in on the recent escalations in Iran, as well as the need to stop the country’s involvement in endless wars. While the need to reduce military involvement in Iran was mutually agreed upon, strategies on how to do that varied widely.  

“We’re going in circles in these regions,” Warren told the crowd, arguing that all combat troops needed to be removed from the region. Biden and Klobuchar disagreed, instead proposing that troops be left to patrol the Gulf and keep ISIS at bay.

The call to stop ongoing war in the Middle East mirrors recent demands from House Members Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and Rep. Raul Grijalva. Both Arizona delegates cited opposition to “endless wars” when they voted to limit Trump’s war powers last Thursday.

Health care was also a hotly-debated debate topic amongst candidates. Sanders and Warren remained steadfast in their support of industry overhauls like Medicare for All

“It ends all premiums; it ends all deductibles,” Sanders said of his bill. “ It provides high-quality care to all people – not just those who can afford it.”

Klobuchar’s moderate stance, however, again put her at odds with her progressive counterparts.

“Two-thirds of the Democrats in the US Senate are not on the bill that you and Sen. Warren are on,” she told Sanders. Klobuchar also warned that the cost for universal health care would be too high.

December polling revealed that health care is one of the top policy priorities on Arizonan’s minds. Of the 628 registered voters surveyed by landline phone, Biden and Buttigieg were found to have the largest advantage over President Donald Trump. Warren and Bloomberg trailed closely behind, with Sanders listed as a distant fifth.

The real test for candidates begins next month, starting with the Iowa Caucus on Feb 3. Early ballots for Arizona’s Presidential Preference election are scheduled to be mailed one month before the state’s March 17 election. Voters must be registered as Democrats by Feb. 11 to vote in the March election. Arizona residents who qualify to vote may register online, by mail, or in person.