Friday, June 28, 2019

Winners and losers in two nights of Democratic debates

If you are strapped for time this morning, I’ll make it short: In my opinion Warren and Castro took the first one and Harris ran away with the second one.

Winners and losers: First Democratic presidential debate

In Scriber’s view, Elizabeth Warren was a clear winner of the first debate and with Julian Castro scoring points in second place.

Frank Bruni (NY TImes) also believes that Elizabeth Warren Aced the First Democratic Debate.

Nicholas Kristof (also at NY Times) recants: Why I Was Wrong About Elizabeth Warren. And her growing popularity suggests others are coming around, too. (h/t Phil Nicolay)

Contributors to Blog for Arizona weighed in: BfAZ Authors React to the First Democratic Debate.

Comments by Michael Bryan: If you ask me, the debate accomplished a few things:

It moved forward the debate on immigration and refugees. Julian Castro dragged the rest of the field to the idea of repealing section 1325, thereby decriminalizing simple crossing of the border without authorization. In a single blow that would take away the legal basis for detaining immigrants and refugees until their status hearings.

Elizabeth Warren made a brilliant case for Medicare for All. Made the others, except DeBlasio, look like nervous nellies with limited policy imaginations. She came out of the debate appearing to well-deserved her place in the polls at the moment. She dominated the time, the message, and the medium.

Julian Castro made a great impression. He was articulate and charming, prepared and sharp. Unfortunately, he’s also tiny. Exact same size as Warren. Can such a diminutive man be President in this image-obsessed age?

It knocked the gilding off golden boy Beto O’Roarke. Between his being constantly talked over and singled out for criticism, he looked out of his depth and unprepared. His charisma can only carry him so far.

Comments by Larry Bodine:

I agree with the New York Times that Elizabeth Warren Aced the First Democratic Debate. She came across as a real fighter who will be an intimidating candidate against Donald Trump. I can see her shredding him alive in a one-to-one debate. She was smart to stay out of the various bickering. I just wish she were on the second debate to see her with Bernie and Biden.

It’s clear why Warren is the progressive’s choice, with statements like:

  • “Who is this economy really working for?” Ms. Warren said, “It’s doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top.”
  • “Gun violence is a national health emergency in this country, and we need to treat it like that.”
  • It has been far too long that the monopolies have been making the campaign contributions, have been funding the super PACs, have been out there making sure that their influence is heard and felt in every single decision that gets made in Washington.
  • So we’ve had an industrial policy in the United States for decades now, and it’s basically been let giant corporations do whatever they want to do.”
  • “Health care is a basic human right, and I will fight for basic human rights.”
  • “The insurance companies last year alone sucked $23 billion in profits out of the health care system, $23 billion. And that doesn’t count the money that was paid to executives, the money that was spent lobbying Washington.”

Julián Castro came in second. To me, he scored big points for:

  • “I would do several things, starting with something we should have done a long time ago, which is to pass the Equal Rights Amendment finally in this country.”
  • “I don’t believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice.”
  • “If I were president today, I would sign an executive order that would get rid of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, the remain-in-Mexico policy, and the metering policy.”
  • “We need a Marshall Plan for Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador.”
  • “My plan also includes getting rid of Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, to go back to the way we used to treat this when somebody comes across the border, not to criminalize desperation, to treat that as a civil violation.”
  • “I am the dad of a 10-year-old girl, Carina, who’s here tonight. And the worst thing is knowing that your child might be worried about what could happen at school, a place that’s supposed to be safe. The answer to your question is no. We don’t have to accept that.”
  • “When I was mayor of San Antonio, we moved our local public utility, we began to shift it from coal-fired plants to solar and other renewables, and also created more than 800 jobs doing that. … And if I’m elected president, the first thing that I would do is sign an executive order recommitting us to the Paris Climate Accord.”

Pamela Powers Hannley saw the debate a bit differently: “My overall impression of the first night is: There were some good Vice Presidential picks and cabinet members on stage.” Scriber has the same sense about the second debate as well.

Michael Bryan wrapped it up: “Surprisingly, no one seemed to take swipes much at current front-runners Warren, Sanders, and Biden. Everyone seemed pretty focused on policy and introducing themselves to the people. It was a good, civilized debate.”

But, Scriber thinks, not so for the second debate we watched last night.

Winners and losers: Second Democratic presidential debate

Lisa Lerer at the NY Times comes across as seeing Kamala Harris as the dominant force on that stage, Debate Night 2: The ‘On Politics’ Breakdown.

Hi, and welcome to a special post-debate edition of On Politics. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host.

Sometimes in presidential races, a moment is all it takes. Rick Perry’s “oops.” Howard Dean’s scream. Chris Christie calling Marco Rubio a “robot.”

Last night, former Vice President Joe Biden had a moment. And it wasn’t pretty.

It started when Senator Kamala Harris interjected into a conversation about racism with a request: “As the only black person on this stage, I would like to speak on the issue of race.”

She then laced into comments Mr. Biden made at a fund-raiser earlier this month where he fondly recalled his working relationships with segregationists in the Senate, as well as his active opposition to busing in the 1970s.

“It’s personal,” she said. “It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

She continued: “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

Mr. Biden, an experienced debater, looked defensive and a bit offended, and he struggled to respond. He noted he’d worked as a public defender in 1968, unlike Ms. Harris, who was a prosecutor. And then, he seemed to simply give up: “Anyway,” he said, “my time is up.”

It did not get any better for Biden. It did not do Sanders any good either. Harris, in Scriber’s opinion, captured the second debate. Lerer continues:

[Harris’] remarks were personal and political, and they highlighted two of the biggest questions around Mr. Biden’s candidacy: his age, and the durability of his support among voters of color. In the spin room afterward, even rival campaigns gloated that Mr. Biden, who’s been leading the polls, had been dealt a blow.

Democrats want to see a candidate who will take it to President Trump. And they’re worried, still stewing in their 2016 loss, that a female candidate or a candidate of color will face a tougher path to the White House. Ms. Harris is both, and part of what she needed to do on Thursday was prove that she could go on the attack. Going after Mr. Biden was a substitute for going after Mr. Trump.

Whether this will provide the boost Ms. Harris needs remains to be seen. In recent weeks, Senator Elizabeth Warren has stolen much of the early excitement surrounding Ms. Harris’s entry in to the race. Her numbers have remained fairly stagnant, and she has struggled to settle on a message.

NY Times authors react to the second debate in What We Learned From Night 2 of the Democratic Debates, concluding that “Kamala Harris stood out from the 10-person crowd several times during the NBC debate. Her exchange with Joe Biden, who is leading in the polls, put him on the defensive.”

It was a two-hour debate with 10 candidates. But there was only one defining moment: Senator Kamala Harris of California invoking her personal history about being bused to school as she directly challenged Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president, over his record on race and the use of busing to integrate schools.

“I do not believe you are a racist,” Ms. Harris began the emotional exchange with Mr. Biden on Thursday night.

It only intensified from there.

Here are the 6 standout moments from the second Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC:

  • Biden’s opponents have been swinging at him for weeks. On Thursday, some landed blows.
  • Harris stole the show — and the night. In her closing statement, Ms. Harris touted herself as the candidate to “prosecute the case” against Mr. Trump. Of course, by then she had already showcased those skills against Mr. Biden.
  • Sanders’s ideas dominate, but he does not. Mr. Sanders entered the debate as a top candidate in the polls and fund-raising, and there were big expectations he would use his stature to push his message of revolution and aggressively go after Mr. Biden. But though many of the progressive policy ideas he has helped popularize dominated the night — most notably, universal health care — he at times got lost on stage, overshadowed in particular by Ms. Harris.
  • Buttigieg almost survives the South Bend police question.
  • It may be no country for moderate men.
  • Who spoke the most? In descending order, Biden, Harris, Buttigieg, Sanders, Bennet, Gillibrand,

Here is a reminder of who was on the stage last night: Marianne Williamson, John Hickenlooper, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Joseph R. Biden Jr., Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet and Eric Swalwell.

Scriber’s opinions about the other candidates (not mentioned above) range from ho-hum to negative. For instance, I don’t think Gillibrand did herself any good with her interruptions.

Bernie was Bernie. On that point I wonder what the Berniecrats will do when faced with a choice between Harris, Warren, and Sanders. Would they vote against women of color, substance, accomplishments, and a collective ability to advance Sanders’ ideas more palatably than Sanders himself can do?

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