Takeaways From Day Two Of Democratic Debates
In a two-hour debate with ten candidates, there was only one defining moment: Senator Kamala Harris of California sharing her personal history of being bused to school as she challenged Vice President Biden over his record on race and use of busing to integrate schools.
“I do not believe you are a racist,” Ms. Harris began the exchange with Mr. Biden on Thursday night.
Things only escalated from there.
Here are the defining moments of the CBS Democratic Debates last night:
For Weeks Biden’s challengers have been taking swipes at him, some finally landed last night.
Vice President Biden, who has held the early lead in the polls, has been the target of attacks from opponents over the last two months since he entered the presidential race. But about halfway through the debate, Ms. Harris put him on the defensive as she ripped into his record with civil rights: she sharply questioned his opposition to the programs for integrated busing in the 70s and said that his recent remarks about working with segregationist senators gave worry over his current stance on this, she said they were “very hurtful!
Vice President Biden’s lengthy record, one as more a moderate democrats, gives pause to the liberals in the now more progressive controlled Democrat party – should and can be aggressively challenged by his opponents. Some of them have been previously reluctant to draw a direct contrast with him who still enjoys good-will from many on the left, Ms. Harris may have changed that last night.
Vice President Biden, for his part, defended his record. He told the crowd that he got into politics due to the civil rights movement, and emphasized his record on voting rights issues. He said that he was a “public defender, I didn’t become a prosecutor,” in what was a jab at Sen. Harris, who was a prosecutor before moving on to politics, he also noted he was the Vice President to the first African American President.
But compared to the others, he did seem almost timid at times, raising his fingers slightly as a gesture that he wanted to answer questions, but would not interject to give his take on a subject. But he was not the only one, Bernie Sanders did this as well, the moderators ignoring him and calling on others.
It was a sharp contrast to Senator Harris and others, VP Biden, usually one of the more vocal candidates, also cut himself off when he saw he was running out of time.
While VP Biden did not fail onstage, nor did he make any moves that could hurt him, he also did nothing to make himself stand out in the minds of voters.
Harris was the clear winner
I was just ten words from Senator Harris that put in motion the debate for the night, if not maybe the rest of the campaign for the 2020 nomination.
“I would like to speak on the issue of race,” Ms. Harris declared.
There was silence in the room as people waited.
She then turned to V.P. Biden, started with attacks, not letting up, then presented her identity as an African American woman, and was critical of his rhetoric in the past and even now saying he would work with segregationist, then asked what they were going to work on togather. “You also worked with them to oppose busing,” she said. “And you know, there was a little girl in California who was a 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 protested. “A mischaracterization of my position,” he said.
She pressed on, framing her follow-ups as the prosecutor she once was. “Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then? Do you agree?”
At that moment she stood out to voters, also exposed some of the past with VP Biden. She did this boldly, taking on the leader of the Democrats, V.P. Biden, who many were shying away from confronting due to his popularity after having served eight years with President Obama.
If this was her only moment, she might have made an impression, one that may have been later forgotten, but she had followed her earlier declaration when the candidates had started to try to talk over everyone at once, “America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we are going to put food on the table.” Then, too, she silenced the room.
Senator 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.
While Sanders idea’s dominated, he did not
Senator Sanders came into the debate as to the leader in polling behind Bidden and was the leader in fundraising, there were significant expectations he would use this to make sure his message was heard and go after V.P Biden, but it never materialized.
While many thought highly of his progressive ideas, and that they had moved the democratic party to where they are today, it seemed like he was lost at times on the stage. This was shown in the lack of push on universal health care, how he appeared lost on the stage and was overshadowed by Senator Harris. He never took one swipe at V.P Biden, that is until the end, and that was his opposition to the Iraq war vs. Biden’s support of it.
It may be no country for moderate men.
The debates, if nothing else, showed the swing of control from moderates in the party to the more progressive members.
Biden, the most moderate of the bunch, did nothing but spend his time fending off attack after attack, thus was not able to get his message out to the people. He never gave any criticism over Sanders and Warren’s call to do away with private insurance, instead gave them and their idea’s the floor.
Others in the party’s center-left wing — Senator Michael Bennet and former Gov. John Hickenlooper, both of Colorado — did try to inject themselves in the Thursday discussion about Mr. Sanders’s sweeping proposals but made little headway.
As was stated in the New York Times: The leftward shift was most evident on health care policy, which dominated the Thursday debate’s opening half-hour. Mr. Sanders, along with Ms. Harris and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York committed to a single-payer Medicare-for-all system that four years ago was a vision embraced just by Mr. Sanders. All ten candidates also endorsed allowing undocumented immigrants access to government health care programs.
At times Sanders appeared more eager to jump in, then got lost in the shuffle. In an exchange about climate change, he could not be seen raising his hand, but Mayer Buttigieg jumped in and spoke before he could. When finished, rather than turn to him, the moderators ignored him and turned to John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado.
It also seemed when Sanders spoke, all he did was repeat part of his stump speech.