It is Still Early: Observations on the latest Democratic Debate and What Happens Next.

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 for the Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC on the campus of Texas Southern University Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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
  • Education
  • Trade and International Affairs
  • Immigration
  • The Economy, Jobs, Infrastructure, and Green Energy
  • Resilence

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



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David Gordon
Living in Arizona since his family moved to Tempe from New York in 1982, David Gordon has three degrees from Arizona State University and the University of Phoenix in History, Political Science, and Secondary School Administration. A highly qualified Social Studies instructor and Certified School Principal, Mr. Gordon owned his own charter school, Grand Canyon College Preparatory Academy from 1997-2016. The school served students in grades 6-12 in the East Valley of Maricopa County. Many of the graduates of GCP earned college credit for free while still attending high school, some completing the first year of college before graduating. Among the speakers at the school's graduations were noted figures in Arizona Politics like Harry Mitchell, David Schweikert, Juan Mendes, Andrew Sherwood, and John Huppenthal. Mr. Gordon also participated in the revisions of the Arizona History and Social Studies standards. In January 2017, Mr. Gordon started the political blog Twenty-First Century Progressive Bull Moose. It has a global following and routinely comments on the political events of the day. Mr. Gordon also helps administer the Facebook page Living Blue in Arizona. He is also currently writing a series of Young Adult science fiction novels which incorporate the themes of time travel and its impact on history. Mr. Gordon is very happy to be asked to join the Blog for Arizona team and hopes to spread the progressive word to make Arizona a better place for everyone.


  1. Almost four years ago (9/28/2015), CNN published a poll finding Clinton would beat Trump in the 2016 election, 48% to 38%

    Of course, she did beat him by about 2.5% (not 10%) in the popular vote. But running as a pragmatic centrist did not particularly excite the base and certainly seemed to depress Democratic voter turnout. While Obama governed as a pragmatic centrist, he ran as a reformer (“Hope and Change”). So I hope the DNC does not field another pragmatic centrist (like Biden or Klobuchar) in 2020. I say the DNC, not the voters, since the DNC told us in court they are not obligated to run a fair primary, as stated in their charter, but could pick their nominee in a “smoke-filled back room” if they wanted.

  2. A gaffe is “an unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator.”

    Biden’s debate performance wasn’t about his gaffes.The man gave rambling responses, could not focus, spoke in sentence fragments, and often didn’t answer the question asked or even come close. And he deteriorated as the night wore on, getting noticeably worse. This is not about the occasional gaffe.

    I noticed this early on, so I listened to Biden with closed captioning and backed up a few times to hear him again. Some of his answers resemble the Sarah Palin word salads.

    Sanders is about the same age but he is one hell of a lot better at staying on point and sounding reasonably articulate.

    This isn’t good. I’m getting a bad feeling about this.

    Don’t kill the messenger.

  3. Anyone who remembers Biden’s train wreck campaign for POTUS in 1988 knows that he’s fully capable of taking a 50 point lead on November 1, 2020, and losing to Trump in a landslide a week later.

    His candidacy stinks of 2016, where the DNC rammed an unpopular candidate down our throats and then ran the worst campaign in history.

    I hope we get Warren or Sanders. I’ll vote for whoever, but if the nom is Biden, the months leading up to the election will be terrifying.


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