From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro are introduced Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
The race to see who can go the farthest left (and also Tulsi Gabbard) got hot again Tuesday night as CNN and the New York Times co-hosted another Democratic debate.
With the candidate pool dwindling and the need for separation between the candidates increasing, the long knives came out, and strangely enough, everyone was gunning for Elizabeth Warren. Joe Biden was, for the most part, allowed to stand aside and let other candidates attack each other. How did it play out? Here are your winners and losers from the debate.
The Winners: Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, was seemingly everyone’s target. Biden targeted her. Kamala Harris targeted her. Tulsi Gabbard and others seemed to think that she was the candidate to beat during the debate, and so they tried. However, none of the blows really stuck. She also had some help from the producers of the debate, covering for Warren against an attack from Gabbard in particular. Her ability to withstand the attacks helped her image a bit, and she is definitely going to come out at least breaking even here.
Pete Buttigieg stood out more than I think people expected. His shot at Beto O’Rourke knocked the Texas Democrat out. He scrapped with Warren and didn’t come across as foolish as others did. He appears now to be vying for the very base that Joe Biden has, and he looked very good doing it. If Biden falters, right now it’s not difficult to see those voters moving to Buttigieg.
Bernie Sanders was very Bernie Sanders, and that did not hurt him. In fact, a little added sympathy from his heart issues late last week helped him perhaps dodge some attacks from the others on the stage. Nothing really stood out, but like Warren and Biden, “not losing” a debate with their level of support and backing them is as good as a win IF no one else stands out. And… no one did.
The Losers: Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris
Joe Biden was, once again, seemingly left alone for the most part. Up until the end of the debate, he wasn’t really hit too hard, and even after the divisions over Medicare For All, Biden’s record in the Senate and as Vice President, and a rather chauvinist attempt to take credit for Elizabeth Warren’s time as head of the consumer finance agency she touted as a major accomplishment, Biden still stood tall. The problem is that all of this happened to Biden as an afterthought. Everyone was focused on Warren. Everyone was worried about Sanders’ health. Everyone was looking for Buttigieg and others to step up. And no one really cared how well Biden did. That is a bad thing for him.
Beto O’Rourke has a glass jaw, and everyone knows it now. When Pete Buttigieg landed a full-on blow, saying “I don’t need a lesson in courage from you,” it was pretty much over for the furriest Democratic candidate. Beto came off as weak and, when not talking about guns, he frankly appeared to lack the backbone necessary to advocate as equally for his other unconstitutional pursuits. If he doesn’t fold this week, then he’s even more foolish than we knew.
Kamala Harris really seems to think that “We should get Donald Trump banned from Twitter” is the key plank in her platform that will knock Warren out of the lead. She attacked Warren for not joining her in calling on Twitter to ban Trump from the social media site. The attack was so pathetic that you could actually hear the crowd actively not caring. Harris at this point brings nothing to the table that no one else brings and brings better.
Booker is much the same way. His responses to the questions felt flat. The excitement in his voice was shared only by him. No one seems to really think that Booker is that great of a candidate, but he still somehow manages to make the debate stages and completely underwhelm.
The Also-Rans: Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg
What on God’s green earth is Tom Steyer even doing here? He exists on this debate stage solely to make people wish he didn’t. There is no reason for him here. He’s not even a good distraction from the other candidates. He’s just… there.
The other candidates didn’t do poorly. They just didn’t have a winning performance. For most of these candidates, it’s time to pack up and go home. It’s not happening. Will they listen? Probably not.