Ten presidential hopefuls desperate to stand out in a crowded Democratic 2020 field took the stage for part one of the party’s first debate Wednesday night – and pundits say the winners and losers were very clear.
Massachusetts Sen Elizabeth Warren and New Jersey Sen Cory Booker both had great nights on the stage in Miami, where each candidate was given 60 seconds to answer an array of questions about their policy goals.
Directly to Warren and Booker’s left was a less successful Beto O’Rourke.
‘He was the loser in several clashes with opponents, (Bill DeBlasio’s healthcare exchange comes to mind) and his language was not as inspiring as the others,’ Frank Luntz tweeted. ‘He also spent too much time buttoning his jacket.’
Another big winner on the debate stage was former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, who captivated the crowd with his frustrated response to the border crisis.
Pundits agree that Massachusetts Sen Elizabeth Warren was one of the strongest candidates to take the stage at the first Democratic debate in Miami on Wednesday. The contender to her right, New Jersey Sen Cory Booker, also had a strong night, while the former Texas congressman to her left, Beto O’Rourke, struggled
Former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro delivered a surprisingly strong performance that is expected to boost his mediocre polling numbers
Ten presidential hopefuls desperate to stand out in a crowded Democratic 2020 field came out swinging at Wednesday night’s debate, the first of two segments
Warren had the highest polling numbers going into the first debate – coming in third behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen Bernie Sanders – and she proved why each time she leaned in to the microphone.
‘She stayed on message all night, her answers generally connected, and she’ll probably climb five points in the polls over the next week,’ analyst Bill Palmer wrote in his breakdown of the night.
Palmer and others agreed that Warren’s best moment came when she was asked whether she had a plan to deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to which she replied: ‘Yes I do.’
Another high profile candidate who fared well Wednesday night was Booker. The senator from New Jersey took up more air time than any other candidate with a total of 11 minutes and six seconds, according to calculations by the New York Times.
‘The senator from New Jersey won’t be the big star coming out of Wednesday’s debate, but he found a way to inject himself into most of the conversations during the night — even those where he wasn’t directly asked,’ CNN Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza wrote after the debate.
‘Talking the most isn’t always a sign of victory, but when you are someone like Booker who is just trying to get his name out there, it’s a pretty good measure.
‘One caveat: For all of that talking, is there a memorable line from Booker coming out of this debate? I don’t think so.’
Cillizza determined that the most memorable performance of the night came from Castro.
The San Antonio mayor went head-to-head with O’Rourke on immigration in what was one of the most contentious exchanges of the night.
Cillizza called the exchange a ‘battering’ and said it was ‘hard to watch (especially if you were related to O’Rourke), but a clear win for Castro’.
Warren had the highest polling numbers going into the first debate – and she proved why each time she leaned in to the microphone. Another high profile candidate who fared well was Booker, who took up the most air time out of all ten politicians on stage
O’Rourke failed to charm viewers with answers that many felt were over-rehearsed
O’Rourke and Castro faced off on immigration in one of the night’s most heated moments
O’Rourke had the second largest amount of air time, The Times putting him right behind Booker with 10 minutes and 33 seconds, but he struggled to capitalize on that time.
He kicked off his first answer by delivering a line in Spanish that didn’t quite resonate with viewers.
Many indicated that his answers felt overly-rehearsed and insincere.
‘If one of O’Rourke’s goals coming into this debate was to show he was more than a good-looking but sort of empty vessel, it, um, didn’t work,’ Cillizza remarked.
After the debate O’Rourke’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told DailyMail.com: ‘I think you know when Beto’s out on the road, he’s always talking Spanish, wherever he can, in fact, even in places like Iowa, more and more people are showing up at events, and they’re asking him questions in Spanish, because they know that he can engage with them and that he wants to hear peoples’ ideas and be able to communicate in the language that they choose to.’
‘This is a really important distinction, to be able to reach a broad audience of voters to understand that we really understand not just the issues but the language.’
Asked about the confrontation with Castro, Dillon said: ‘I was not surprised that a lot of the candidates were trying to be aggressive to get their moment. I mean, this is 10 people on a stage, 24 candidates, people that are trying to get their candidate out in front of everyone. So it was clear, I think in this debate, that people that are aggressive and cutting people off weren’t getting stopped. There wasn’t much of a penalty from the moderators.
‘I’m proud to have Beto on the stage with these strong Democratic candidates, but I think even in that fray, Beto rose above that and made sure that he stayed focused on the issues and on Donald Trump.’
Experts were divided when it came to Amy Klobuchar’s performance on the debate stage, with some listing her among the winners and others among the losers.
The senator from Minnesota snatched up a decent amount of air time but didn’t have any particularly noteworthy moments as she delivered a few corny lines – including ‘Uncle Dick in the deer blind’ and ‘All foam, no beer’.
Cillizza listed her among the losers and Palmer said she was a winner just based on the time she got to speak.
Bill de Blasio’s most memorable moments from the night came as he was interrupting people, which wasn’t a good look for the New York City mayor.
Hawaii Rep Tulsi Gabbard came out with the goal of convincing everyone once and for all that she no longer leans right, but pundits say she failed to do so.
She made multiple mentions of the fact that she served in Iraq, even when it wasn’t particularly relevant to the prompt.
Falling toward the back of the pack were Ohio Rep Tim Ryan, former Maryland Rep John Delaney and Washington Gov Jay Inslee.
Ryan’s most impactful moment came when he blasted the Trump administration for presiding over a longstanding but deteriorating system that houses children separately from the adults who bring them into the US.
‘What kind of a country are we running here?’ he asked, claiming that ‘we’ve got kids literally laying in their own snot with three-week-old diapers that haven’t been changed.’
Inslee’s moment came when he received a question about climate change, the cornerstone of his campaign.
According to Palmer: ‘Most viewers probably thought John Delaney was an audience member.’
Several pundits noted that the night’s biggest winner may have been current front runner Biden, based on the lack of seriously standout performances on night one.
The former VP will be joining ten other candidates on stage tomorrow.
Experts were divided when it came to Minnesota Sen Amy Klobuchar’s performance on the debate stage, with some listing her among the winners and others among the losers. Hawaii Rep Tulsi Gabbard came out with the goal of convincing everyone once and for all that she no longer leans right, but pundits say she failed to do so
Bill de Blasio’s most memorable moments from the night came as he was interrupting people, which wasn’t a good look for the New York City mayor. Meanwhile, Ohio Rep Tim Ryan struggled to get a word in
Neither Washington Gov Jay Inslee nor former Maryland Rep John Delaney stood out on stage