CNN Debate Night 1: A Brief Review

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By:  Justin Holden

  • Centrist (corporate) Democrats go on the offensive against the higher polling progressive candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
  • Governor Steve Bullock has his first debate appearance of the year; remains irrelevant.
  • Marianne Williamson stands out with her detailed answer on slavery reparations, emphasis for getting special interest money out of politics, and a call to focus on the cause of problems rather than symptoms.
  • Bernie Sanders remains on message, but goes a step further this time by calling out moderator Jake Tapper for asking a “Republican talking point” debate question.
  • Beto O’Rourke avoids confrontation, again, with the other candidates.  The anticipation of a showdown with Mayor Pete Buttigieg does not come to fruition.
  • John Delaney succeeds in gaining significant air time by initiating heated policy debates with Sanders and Warren.
  • John Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar, and Tim Ryan have forgettable performances.

 

It came down to moderates versus progressives on night one of the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debates.  John Delaney came out swinging right out of the gate, referencing Warren and Sanders in his opening statement.  Other moderate candidates, particularly Hickenlooper, Bullock, and Ryan, were also quite vocal in their opposition to progressive policies during this debate.

The first debate topic was healthcare.  You had Medicare for all (left-wing policy), public option (center-right policy), and some convoluted policies that fell somewhere in between that spectrum.  Over and over again we heard about the concept of millions of Americans being thrown off their private insurance plans and forced onto Medicare for all.  Oh the agony!  Somehow, in 2019, it’s as if politicians and the talking heads on mainstream media alike haven’t woken up to the fact that the United States is the only major country on Earth left to not guarantee healthcare to it’s citizens as a right.

Another lengthy section of the debate focused on immigration.  Several candidates supported decriminalization of crossing the border while others remained against such a policy.  There was also disagreement among the candidates as to whether or not undocumented immigrants should be guaranteed healthcare.

Williamson, Sanders, and Warren all did themselves a favor in this debate and will likely see a boost to their poll numbers in the aftermath.  Delaney, the most vocal attack dog against progressive candidates in this debate, may see a small boost in support from conservative/centrist Democrats, but his poll numbers likely won’t show significant change due to the large volume of moderate candidates in the race and with Joe Biden still having the conservative/centrist lane on lock down.

You could make a case for several candidates receiving the “biggest loser” award, but I’ll go ahead and give it to Beto O’Rourke.  Beto is not articulating his policy positions well enough and even worse, he’s failing to effectively debate policy against other candidates.  Beto’s non-confrontational approach isn’t working for him.  Until Beto goes on the offensive and shows some real passion behind his policy positions, he’ll continue to fail in raising his post-debate poll numbers.

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