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Moderate Democrats take aim at liberal candidates at debate

Elizabeth Warren says America is not going to solve ‘the urgent problems we face with small ideas and spinelessness’

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Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, John Hickenlooper, John Delaney and Steve Bullock at the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN (Carlos Osorio/AP)

Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, John Hickenlooper, John Delaney and Steve Bullock at the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN (Carlos Osorio/AP)

Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, John Hickenlooper, John Delaney and Steve Bullock at the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN (Carlos Osorio/AP)

Moderate Democratic presidential contenders pushed back against liberals on as the second round of presidential debates opened with a fresh clash over the direction of the party.

Montana governor Steve Bullock demanded aggressive action on the nation’s challenges but warned voters against nominating someone who embraces “wish-list economics” to take on President Donald Trump next year.

Working people “can’t wait for a revolution,” said Mr Bullock in a clear swipe at self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, who stood at centre stage.

“Their problems are here and now.”

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Other Democratic candidates have targeted Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (Paul Sancya/AP)

Other Democratic candidates have targeted Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (Paul Sancya/AP)

AP/PA Images

Other Democratic candidates have targeted Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (Paul Sancya/AP)

The warning from the little-known governor came shortly before Mr Sanders and fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren promised to pursue bold liberal priorities if elected.

The high-profile New England senators are known for their unapologetic embrace of aggressive plans to overhaul health care, higher education, child care and the economy – ambitious and expensive steps that may be popular among many Democrats but give Mr Trump and his Republican allies ample opportunity to cast all Democrats as extreme.

“We’re not going to solve the urgent problems we face with small ideas and spinelessness,” Ms Warren said, calling for “a Democratic Party of big structural change”.

The fight for the political left is just one subplot as the first wave of 10 candidates meets in Detroit.

A second group of 10 that features early front-runner Joe Biden as well as Kamala Harris convenes on Wednesday night.

The groupings were chosen by debate host CNN at random.

PA