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December 20, 2018

President Trump announced Thursday that Defense Secretary James Mattis will step down at the end of February. Mattis' retirement follows rumored tensions with the president, and the administration's controversial announcement of plans to withdraw troops from Syria, The New York Times reports.

In his resignation letter to the president, Mattis wrote that Trump has "a right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours." Jeva Lange

10:53 p.m.

Julián Castro is having a moment.

During Wednesday's 2020 Democratic debates, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary got an early applause line in when he was asked about closing the gender pay gap. Castro responded by saying he'd pass the long-stalled Equal Rights Amendment — and quickly shot up 2400 percent in Google search interest since the debates began, Google Trends reported. The Equal Rights Amendment, meanwhile, saw search interest spike 800 percent.

Castro's Google triumph should come with a grain of salt, seeing as he wasn't getting a ton of searches to begin with. In the week leading up to the debates, he wasn't even among the top half of Wednesday candidates in terms of Google searches. Castro was the top searched candidate in barely a handful of counties around the U.S. as well, Google Trends showed.

Of course, no candidate stacks up to pizza. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:37 p.m.

Let chaos reign.

With 10 candidates trying to answer detailed questions in a limited amount of time, Wednesday's Democratic debate in Miami was bound to have a few hiccups. Things got even more complicated when NBC had to cut to break unexpectedly just as the event's second hour was about to get rolling because of microphone and audio issues.

While the technical difficulties might seem like a metaphor for the overcrowded Democratic race, its not without precedent. In 1976, President Gerald Ford and his Democratic challenger Jimmy Carer had to stop their general election debate when the sound cut out. That pause lasted a lot longer than this one, too.

President Trump, at least, was stirred from his boredom by the mishap. Tim O'Donnell

10:07 p.m.

Hablas español? Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker do, and they put it to full use on Wednesday night, with O'Rourke even receiving a question from Telemundo anchor and debate moderator José Diaz-Balart in Spanish.

At least a few of Thursday night's crop of Democrats were watching and taking note — and, presumably, hastily downloading Duolingo.

One Thursday candidate likely wasn't sweating it, though: South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who speaks Spanish in addition to Norwegian, French, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, and Dari. Jeva Lange

9:53 p.m.

President Trump is not entertained.

As 2020 Democrats debated on Wednesday night, Trump, who had previously promised to live-tweet the debates, stayed uncharacteristically silent. That's apparently because, as he tweeted 35 minutes into the debates, it was "BORING!"

Trump's one-word tweet came as Democrats onstage discussed the stunning photo of a migrant father and daughter who died while crossing the Rio Grande. Beto O'Rourke, who broke into Spanish during the discussion, tweeted earlier that Trump is "responsible" for their deaths. The photo came as a visceral reminder of the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:53 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) made her stance on health care policy very clear during Wednesday's Democratic primary debate.

When the 10 candidates on stage in Miami were asked whether they would abolish private, for-profit health insurance for a government-run plan, only two raised their hands: Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

After Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) gave a brief defense for an incremental approach and retaining a public option, Warren expressed her support for a government-run plan. The senator, who has been surging in recent weeks, said health care is a human right and declared that she stands with her old friend Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in support of Medicare-for-All. Sanders' supporters in the past have questioned Warren's commitment to the idea. Tim O'Donnell

9:30 p.m.

Julián Castro has a simple pledge for closing the gender pay gap.

Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary under former President Barack Obama, was asked at Wednesday's Democratic debate how he would address the gender pay gap. He immediately brought up how his single mother raised him and his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and then pledged to "pass the Equal Rights Amendment, finally."

The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was proposed nearly a century ago. It passed the U.S. Senate in 1972 and has slowly made inroads in state legislatures, but has stalled ever since. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:29 p.m.

It took former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke exactly nine seconds to start speaking in Spanish at the Democratic debate on Wednesday night. After being asked if he would support a marginal tax rate of 70 percent on the highest earners making more than $10 million a year, O'Rourke answered instead: "This economy has got to work for everyone, and right now we know that it isn't, and it's going to take all of us coming together to make sure that it does."

He then switched to speaking Spanish, which bilingual viewers noted was a dodge as the former congressman didn't actually answer the question in either language:

Still, O'Rourke managed to impress some people with his bold decision:

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker — who also speaks Spanish — looked particularly impressed and surprised:

Several of the 2020 Democrats are multilingual. In addition to O'Rourke and Booker, Julián Castro and Pete Buttigieg have also given interviews in full or in part in Spanish, Politico reports. Jeva Lange

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