The Day 1 of the first Democratic Primary debate was civil and more substantive. Day 2 was more of a fight. Even as it was less substantive it showed who would do well in any style presidential candidate. Kamala Harris made it clear that she will make no man push her around and necessarily have the last word. She flustered Biden and showed that he is not on solid footing and that Donald Trump would put quicksand under his feet.
I found it ironic how many pundits on MSNBC were trying to rehabilitate Biden on his unapologetically pathetic and dishonest with Kamala Harris. It turns out that she was the undisputed winner of Da2 of the Democratic Debate.
Democratic debate night two offered a clear winner, a clear loser, and too many people in between
The second night of the Democratic debate is in the books, with Sen. Kamala Harris the clear winner, and former Vice President Joe Biden the loser based in part on Harris’ powerful case against Biden’s history on school busing. Harris offered a string of the debate’s best moments, but also a commanding, composed presence throughout.
Biden’s weakness wasn’t just about Harris, though. Sen. Michael Bennet also landed a blow, about Biden’s part in the Obama administration’s bad deal with then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell over the 2012 fiscal cliff. Beyond that, Biden whiffed a question about his vote for the Iraq War, a question he was 99% certain to get. And rumors were flying about his staff’s unhappiness with his performance.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the other frontrunner in this debate, fared a little better than Biden. If a frontrunner’s desire in a debate is to win by not losing, Sanders accomplished that, and of course the ideas he promoted during and since his 2016 candidacy continue to shape the Democratic policy debate. But Sanders has not developed much, if at all, as a candidate since 2016, and he was just kind of … there in this debate. If you like Sanders, you saw exactly the lines that inform that affection. If you’re undecided or don’t like him, you saw nothing new to change your mind. And the very lack of serious moves against him by other candidates could be seen to place him on the sidelines.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a solid debate performance, though his crucially important response to a question about the recent killing of a black man by a police officer in South Bend, Indiana, did not have the impact it was designed to have. And that was the problem: Buttigieg knew he would get that question, and he over-rehearsed his answer, down to the quirks in his mouth as he spoke. While Harris had clearly prepared her comments about Biden, segregationists, and busing, it retained a sense of immediacy, authenticity, and emotional charge that Buttigieg couldn’t summon. Still, on the whole, Buttigieg had one of the debate’s solid performances, neither dramatically building on nor undermining his spring breakout.