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Detroit — Real courage and a backbone are necessary to beat President Donald Trump, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren emphasized  at the Democratic debate in Detroit on Tuesday.

"We're not going to solve the urgent problems that we face with small ideas and spinelessness," said Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts. "We're going to solve them by being the Democratic Party of big structural change. We need to be the party that fights for our democracy and our economy to work for everyone."

Warren, 69, alongside her friend and challenger, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, dominated the first half of the debate Tuesday night at the Fox Theater in Detroit when CNN moderators asked her challengers if they lacked the will to fight for the White House.

Sanders has pitched Medicare for all, which would eventually take private health insurance away from more than 150 million Americans, in exchange for government-sponsored health care for everyone.

In what appeared as a defense of Sanders' plan, Warren said Democrats are not about trying to take away health care from anyone.

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"That's what the Republicans are trying to do. And we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care," Warren said.

Asked if she would raise taxes for a Medicare-for-all plan, Warren answered: "Costs will go up for billionaires and corporations. For middle class families costs will go down."

Warren's calls for greater consumer protections led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Barack Obama. She was the first candidate to call for impeaching Trump. Her many policy plans prompted the slogan, "I’ve Got a Plan For That."

Asked in the debate how she would combat the rise of white supremacy, Warren said the country needs to fight back.

"It is domestic terrorism and it poses a threat to the United States of America," Warren said to a round of applause.

Warren said her education plan would build a better system for all that includes universal tuition-free college, increased Pell grants and $50 billion investment into historically black universities and colleges.

Candidates were asked to share their views on decriminalizing border crossings for immigrants. Warren said she supports decriminalization, saying the law gives Trump a tool to take away children from their parents.

"We must be a country every day that lives our values," Warren said. "We need to expand legal immigration paths."

Warren said laws matter.

"And it matters if we say our law is that we will lock people up who come here, seeking refuge, who come here, seeking asylum, that is not a crime," Warren says. "And as Americans, what we need to do is have a sane system that keeps us safe at the border, but does not criminalize the activity."

Warren told the audience in Detroit that Trump disgraces the office of president every day.

"And anyone on this stage tonight for tomorrow night with the as far as president, I promise no matter who our candidate is, I will work my heart out to beat Donald Trump," Warren said. "Our problems didn't start with Donald Trump. Donald Trump is part of a corrupt rigged system that has helped the wealthy and the well connected and kicked dirt in the faces of everyone else. "

See all candidate major moments 

jchambers@detroitnews.com

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