Former Vice President Joe Biden mimics shooting a gun as he speaks at the Chuck Hagel Forum in Global Leadership, on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
For the second night of CNN’s debate, we saw more candidates going for the throat – particularly Joe Biden’s – and more on policy than we saw in the first night. Biden was joined on stage by Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Michael Bennet, Jay Inslee, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro, and Bill de Blasio, and the candidates were again given the chance to not only state their case, but encouraged to go after each other. And they did with gusto.
Here are the winners and losers in the second night of CNN’s Democratic debate. Again, this is objectively analyzed and not based on conservative ideals.
Winners: Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Joe Biden
First up, Andrew Yang has been a surprising force these last two debates. He has shown up, and like Marianne Williamson last night, has had to combat a lack of screen time in order to thrive. I don’t think his performance outshines Williamson’s from the previous night, but people are starting to recongize him. You’ll be seeing more of him, and I think that he brings something new to the debates that the Democrats will have to address.
Tulsi Gabbard had a strong night. She absolutely gutted Kamala Harris on her record as a prosecutor, and Harris absolutely refused to acknowledge the points directly, instead pointing to vague “civil rights reforms” she pushed while she was attorney general in California. But Gabbard would not let her off the hook and came off looking so much better for it. Her time spent as a member of the military also gave her a unique perspective among the candidates, and I think she came across very, very well. Like Booker, I don’t know how much of a bounce she’ll get here, because she is not the most progressive, and she has openly run as a moderate.
The clear winner tonight, though, is Joe Biden. The man has been at the top of the polls for two debates, and last time did not seem prepared. Clearly, he did his homework for tonight because he parried attacks from both Harris and Gillibrand, and he looked well-rehearsed in doing so. Look for him to stay at the top of the polls after this.
Losers: Kamala Harris, Bill de Blasio, Kirsten Gillibrand
The biggest loser tonight was Kamala Harris, who seemed so ready and composed last debate but was slaughtered by Gabbard and completely side-stepped by Biden. She came across as the student who doesn’t study for the final exam because she thinks she’s so smart, but subsequently fails it because she wasn’t prepared. She failed to just come across as prepared, and there were people cheering against her as a result. That’s not a good look for her.
Gillibrand tried so very hard to land a super feminist point against Biden and he destroyed her on it. In typical Gillibrand style, she fell on her face trying to make a point. It was almost as embarrassing as Bill de Blasio getting completely shut down by Don Lemon (Note: I hope de Blasio loses solely because he made me cheer for Don Lemon). I can’t think of a Democrat with a debate performance more embarrassing than these two had tonight.
Also-Rans: Julian Castro, Jay Inslee, Michael Bennet, Corey Booker
There is not much to say about these four, because they are still just not registering. Their talking points don’t land, and while they each have something Democrats inherently like, they can’t turn that quality into a winning campaign. If any or all of these four were to drop out, it wouldn’t really do much to shake up the race.
Of the four, Booker had probably the best night. He is getting better at trying to connect with voters from the debate stage, but he’s still not able to make those connections completely, and I don’t see that changing. Inslee benefitted from more time on the screen, and took advantage of the opportunity, but he’s a one-trick pony and can’t show a range of policy necessary to take on anyone else long term.
Last night’s debate was the more interesting, more memorable debate and featured better performances across the board. However, it still seems far more likely that we saw the 2020 Democratic nominee tonight. Still, with the stage getting smaller and smaller as the primary goes on, one thing we know is that anything can still happen.