There were many good moments during the Third Democratic Presidential Debate on September 12, 2019, as the current top ten candidates dealt with issues such as:
- Health Care
- Criminal Justice and Guns
- Trade and International Affairs
- The Economy, Jobs, Infrastructure, and Green Energy
Candidates like Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, and Beto O’Rourke performed very well.
Klobuchar, during and after the debate, made the case that she represents the Pragmatic Progressive Center and offered ideas, like Buttigieg and Biden, that have widespread support, and more importantly, can pass a Democratic Congress.
Warren stayed on message and consistently explained her biography, views, and plans. The only issue with her plans are: where are the votes in Congress to pass them, even if the Democrats take control of the Senate?
Booker had the charismatic presence (he always does) and the monopoly on profound one-liner statements. One would think he has committed Bartlett’s Collection of Quotes to memory.
Buttigieg, along with Biden, had one of the best answers on resilence when he discussed coming out. One wonders if he would be running away with this race if he had more of Booker’s charismatic presence.
O’Rourke, needing a home run, appeared to hit one although he may have gone overboard with calling for mandatory buyback of assault weapons. That may be a step too far for some moderates. Time will tell.
The other candidates (Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Andrew Yang, and Julian Castro) had mixed performances.
Harris starting off well addressing her opening comments to Donald Trump but was inconsistent and very long-winded the rest of the evening.
Biden was good in going after Warren and Sanders on Health Care. His answer on resilience with the commenting on the passing of his wife and children was very moving. Unfortunately, his gaffes on children listening to record players and talking about Venezuela when the question was nowhere near that topic gave observers pause and reason to wonder if he is one gaffe away from throwing his campaign away.
Sanders gave the passioned defense of his positions but could never seem to lower the decibel level of his responses.
Yang had an interesting opening gimmick about people emailing him to see if they could be chosen from a random $1000 dividend drawing and had an excellent response to legal immigration in relaying his personal experience. Unfortunately, he did not get as much time as the others.
Like Harris, Castro had an excellent opening statement. Unfortunately, it all went downhill for him after that with his direct attacks on Biden’s competence on the subject of health care. Virtually no one approved of this attack on the former Vice President (there were times with Sanders and Warren, fellow 70 somethings, were giving Biden visible moral support) and Castro compounded the problem by pretending he did nothing wrong in post-debate interviews.
However, the main takeaway from this debate going forward is:
It is still early and there is still time for anyone on and off Thursday’s debate stage to emerge and do well in later debates and the early stages of the campaign. The polls right now do not matter.
In 1988, everyone in September 1987 thought Gary Hart would be the Democratic Nominee.
That did not happen.
Mario Cuomo was the Democrats hope and dream at this time in 1991.
He never ran and Bill Clinton, who did not announce his candidacy until 13 months before the election (how times have changed,) became President.
Howard Dean looked unstoppable at this time in 2003. John Kerry easily defeated him for the nomination.
Hillary Clinton led in the polls going into Iowa in 2007. Barack Obama won Iowa and the rest became history.
With those examples from history, do not presume that the nominee will be either Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders.
Do not discount these candidates: Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Bullock, and Michael Bennet.
While the Montana Governor and Colorado Senator were not there, people need to remember it is still early and candidates can still catch on. These two also have compelling messages to pay attention to.
Much can happen between now and the early caucus/primary states.
A lot can happen and all the candidates have a chance to improve.
Just food for thought.
Featured Photo from WBUR