This was a pretty good debate. For the first time, healthcare didn’t dominate the topics. They missed some topics (Warren pointed out gun violence, for one), but they chose not to try to get everyone involved in every topic and it worked. The word before this was that Mayor Pete would get some attacks and he really kept his jersey mostly clean. I don’t think this debate will lead to much movement at the top. Will some of the lower tier candidates break out? Probably not.
Some of the moments and/or general comments from the debate:
- Klobuchar seems nervous when she starts in all of these debates
- Mayor Pete, Warren, Bernie and Yang did good jobs of coming back to their campaign themes
- I thought when Biden was discussing his healthcare plan, it sounded a lot like Pete’s. Since Warren also compromised on Medicare for All, is Pete’s M4A who want it the new middle ground?
- Gabbard again with her “regime change wars” comments
- I was glad that Harris went after Gabbard.
- Both Booker and Harris made a big play for African-American voters. Harris with her push to rebuild the Obama coalition and Booker’s zinger on marijuana.
- Pete was challenged on his experience level and handled the answers pretty well. Gabbard went after him and didn’t come out well for it. Klobuchar was more subtle in going after him. He was mostly untouched.
- As I was taking notes through the debate, I noted the “good” answers. Pete and Warren had multiple good answers. Biden, Klobuchar, Yang, and Harris had good answers as well.
- I liked Steyer’s passion on climate change.
- I noted that Warren showed some passion on her answer about separating children from their families at the border and in her closing statement, almost to the point that she was going to tear up. I liked it.
- Best closing statement was Booker. He’s so good at this. Other good closings from Yang and Warren.
- Bernie’s closing seemed like it was a laundry list of things he was hoping to say during the debate but didn’t get the chance.
- Both Klobuchar and Pete called out to Republicans as people that Democrats need to appeal to. I liked Steyer’s view that turnout is key.
- Biden’s closing was weak. He tries to get a crowd fired up and it falls flat.
Now for my ranking:
- Pete Buttigieg – Based on number of good answers and the fact that Pete wasn’t really harmed by the couple of attacks that came his way, I’ll put him here. In reality, the top 3 for me are really close.
- Elizabeth Warren – Elizabeth was forgotten a bit in the middle of the debate. She had multiple good answers and I liked her passion on some questions. She didn’t get attacked on healthcare, which is a win for her.
- Cory Booker – I really like Booker. Great closing and good zinger against Biden. I hope he makes the next debate.
- Kamala Harris – Pretty good debate for Kamala. I still can’t help but think when I see her on the stage that she’s a VP, cabinet secretary or just stays as a Senator.
- Joe Biden – This might’ve been Joe’s best debate for me. He didn’t ramble as much as usual and was really good on foreign policy. Emphasized his experience, which is his strength. Got a little wounded in his exchange with Booker and Harris.
- Andrew Yang – Yang is growing on me. I don’t see him in the top job, but I hope there’s a spot for him in someone’s administration. He would be a good cabinet secretary.
- Amy Klobuchar – She was fine and has settled into her lane. She’s not my cup of tea, but when she focuses on women’s issues, she does well.
- Bernie Sanders – Bernie was fine. It was a solid performance, but nothing stood out for me.
- Tom Steyer – One good answer on climate change, but doesn’t have a good answer for why he is the guy to take on Trump. He’s done good things with his millions, but a billionaire isn’t the right candidate for the party.
- Tulsi Gabbard – Harris called Gabbard out for her time spent on Fox News criticizing Obama. She went after Pete in a dishonest manner. I was watching the post debate coverage on MSNBC and she couldn’t bring herself to call Assad a war criminal. Her dodge was that there is an international court for that. She needs not to be on the stage in December.