Key Moments From The One-Night ABC Democratic Debate

Thursday saw the first night that the Democratic field was winnowed to a single debate stage. All the frontrunners stood shoulder-to-shoulder, almost immediately getting into heated exchanges on health care.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://talkingpointsmemo.com/?p=1248105
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I suspect that few people are watching this debate who don’t already have a favorite candidate. So far, no one has said anything stupid or otherwise disqualifying, so I don’t expect any minds to be changed by tonight’s debate.

That said, all of the candidates made a lot of good points that were worth hearing, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

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still to many people on the stage.
get it down to 3 and then they can debate on each subject long enough so we can really tell the differences in each candidate where it matters most.
.

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Bernie. Dude. Clear your throat. Take a drink of water. Something. (Yes, I know this is a substanceless comment.)

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Can’t wait for the Republican primary debates so we can hear some answers with real substance from the man who has been in office for almost 3 years. His command of the issues and policies to address them will make others wilt in his presence.

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two words for Bernie: Fisherman’s Friend

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Bless Andrew Yang’s heart.

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Hahahaha! Good one!

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If Bernie had his game on he would pull out Sarah Palin’s Big Gulp from under his podium

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Yeah, but did anyone talk about how much danger Alabama’s in?

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Face it, he will cancel and send Stephen Miller in his place. Delegate, delegate, delegate.

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We had about 20 people show up to our watch party tonight. Most have some people they have already marked off, but very few have already chosen a candidate.

I think there is still a lot more kicking of tires that is going to happen throughout this fall and winter.

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He very often sounds as though he’s gargling a pot of mucus. It doesn’t help his presence.

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Castro went for the dunk and missed.

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Hot Take:

Kudos to ABC for running a pretty good debate. This was miles better than that CNN trash.

  • Harris - Had her best debate performance. Of all the candidates, she defined herself in the way needed to carve out a path to the nomination. Center left on policy; demonstrated relevant experience and policy chops as an executive; hit Trump repeatedly and consistently on issue after issue; connected to POC/Black audiences. Perhaps the answer that will be the most enduring one for her was her response on trade when she said she’s not a protectionist and wants to export American products. Her coffers are going to fill up after that one. Free trade is popular among Dems but there haven’t been many candidates willing to embrace it.

  • Beto - Had his best debate performance. The emotional connection he has made on gun control has helped him be a more consistent performer and I felt that people were also listening to his other answers more keenly.

  • Uncle Joe - Had a very effective first hour and 15 minutes. Kinda tied Warren and Bernie in knots on health care. Got tired and long winded in the second hour. His finish on the question of ‘resiliency’ is Biden at his best. You wanna cry with him when you can see that he has the image of his family members who have passed on his mind when speaking on such issues. It’s deeply affecting. Joe wasn’t great but he was feisty and demonstrated knowledge (before he got tired). Just the fact that Bernie and Warren didn’t lay a glove on him means he had a good debate. They’re not a real threat to him.

  • Pete - He has very good rhetorical skills and this was a much better debate for him than the last one, where sort of shied away from conflict. He wasn’t negative but he was willing to engage (like he did on HC).

  • Klobuchar - Had some really good moments in this debate and probably turned the HC debate against Bernie/Warren on SP. There were other times where she lost the train of thought, but I think she presented herself as a dedicated center left policy wonk who knows stuff.

  • Warren was flat for a good chunk of the debate, had evasive answers on health care and had a bad one on trade/Afghanistan. She didn’t get that dunk moment like she had vs. Delaney. She was dragged into specifics and like debate 1, she stayed away from the mic and didn’t engage.

  • Bernie was hoarse and got challenged on health care. Kind of recovered in the 2nd hour when a tired Biden volunteered his faux pas on Iraq. Not as good as I’ve seen him, but he was feisty where Warren declined to engage when the discussion wasn’t going her way.

  • Castro - I described him as a heat seeking missile and he went after Biden hard. It was edgy, risky, at times he came off as an asshole, at other times I thought, ‘well, politics is a contact sport, so at least he’s up there doin’ something’. I don’t think this debate helped him but at least he was willing to challenge Biden. For his part, I think Biden handled it well in the first part, but his fatigue might’ve had something to do with Castro’s in your face style.

  • Booker - He’s been very good in all 3 debates, but what I think he lacks is that policy heavyweight chops that a Harris or Klobuchar have from the center left side, or that Warren presents from the left. I think that’s why he isn’t higher in the polls. I’ve seen Cory in person and he’s amazing to watch. I do think he’d be a good POTUS or VP if he got there. But if I had to pick one reason why he isn’t higher I think it’s that he doesn’t present himself as a guy with a lot of accomplishments (even though his record is better than that). A Governor Booker running for POTUS would be a bad ass.

  • Yang - I’ve grown to actively dislike him. He’s a clown. In the midst of a constitutional crisis, there’s no way he should be up on that stage.

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Beto had a moment about guns. Not enough to move him significantly. But a moment that was heard.

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“Biden, perhaps the greatest example of personal resilience onstage, gave a touching response on losing so many of his family members, tragedies that strengthened his faith and shaped his worldview”.

and for some reason, this moment was chosen by protesters to begin yelling something. Not sure what they were saying. I think I saw Joe asking Warren, “What were they saying?”

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I believe Joe Biden will lose to Trump, despite what polls are saying now. The key to winning, I think, is not to nominate someone who won’t be attacked. They all will. The key is to nominate whom the base will vigorously defend when he or she is attacked. The problem for Biden is that when he is attacked by Trump and Fox Newsi, the Dem base will remember Anita Hill and Biden’s vote for the Iraq War, shrug its shoulders and say something like, “To be honest, I hate Trump but I don’t really like Biden that much either.” It’s a recipe for defeat. To me, Biden looks like John Kerry 2.0. I hope I’m wrong, as it appears he’s marching pretty easily to the nomination.

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I feel the same way about Biden. Polls now mean nothing. It’s how quickly and effectively a candidate can react when confronted during their campaign that matters. So far, Biden has shown he has the reflexes of a sloth on quaaludes. I just don’t see him winning. In the end, I think he’d fall short the same way Humphrey, Gore, Kerry and H. Clinton all fell short.

Democrats never win when they try to play it safe, Never!

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