The Debate Of No Trump, No Biden


Nobody really disqualified themselves, though no one really stepped up to dominate.

  1. Inslee had a great first answer on climate change, painting his state as a leader. But he really shat the bed with his “only one candidate on this stage” comment grabbing ownershipship on women’s rights. Klobuchar slapped him down for it (and rightly so).
  2. Almost entirely absent from the evening was mention of Trump. It’s a strategy that worked well for Dems in the midterms. He’s such a target and polarizing force, he’s a given that no one is neutral about. So dwelling on him doesn’t advance your cause.
  3. Likewise, no one went after Biden. Why? Biden is the frontrunner, but probably only because at this early stage he’s got the most name recognition. The real frontrunner is one of the others, probably Warren, who’s been surging in the polls. So why bother with Biden?
  4. Healthcare is obviously the big issue they all want to talk about. Two questions later, candidates were still answering the healthcare question even if they’d been asked something else. It’s clearly an issue polling well with voters.
  5. Time for John Delaney, Tim Ryan and Tulsi Gabbard to get cut from the island (or whatever). They add little, have no chance of winning, and they’re just stage clutter. And Delaney is insistently annoying.
  6. Amy Klobuchar seemed distracted and unfocused.
  7. Surprise of the night: Four of the candidates said climate change was the top geopolitical threat to the United States, and Jay Inslee wasn’t one of them.
  8. Cory Booker and Bill DeBlasio did better than expected, particularly DeBlasio. Beto did worse. The Spanish seemed like a stunt, the anecdotes that preceded his every point got quickly tiresome.
  9. Fact checking: Remember the long lists of fact checks after the big 2016 Republican debates? This debate, the NYT listed six items – one of them marked true, two mostly true, and three as exaggerated. AP had two quibbles on its list, both minor. This might be the biggest qualitative difference between the two parties’ fields of candidates.
  10. For live coverage, the Washington Post wins, with its comprehensive live page that tracked candidate time totals, issues discussed and live analysis and fact checking.
Douglas McLennan
Douglas McLennan
Doug is a longtime journalist who writes about journalism, the arts and technology. He's the editor and the founder and editor of and co-founder and editor of Post Alley. He's a frequent keynoter on arts and digital issues, and works and consults for a number of arts and news organizations nationally.
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