One debate down, one to go. 25 candidates are seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. 20 of them qualified to take part in the two debates. Tonight's debate -- broadcast on NBC, MSNBC and TELEMUNDO -- will feature Senator Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Kamala Harris, US House Rep Eric Swalwell, Andrew Yang, Senator Michael Bennet and South Ben Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
That will be tonight. Last night US House Rep and Iraq War veteran Tulsi Gabbard, former US House Rep Beto O'Rourke, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Cory Booker, US House Rep Tim Ryan, former US House Rep John Delaney, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Jay Inslee and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro took the stage.
The big losers?
Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow suffered a technical glitch. They moderated the second hour of last night's debate which included a technical glitch that caused them to go to commercial. News anchors Jose Diaz-Balart and Lester Holt and talk show host Savannah Guthrie had handled the first hour with little problems; however talk show hosts Chuck and Rachel were not so fortunate. As Chuck attempted to ask a question, audio from elsewhere (Chuck thought from the control room) was preventing everyone from hearing Chuck's question.
"What is happening?" a confused and nervous Rachel Maddow asked. By contrast, Senator Amy Klobuchar was laughing at the glitch. Chuck and Rachel rushed to commercial while NBC attempted to fix the issue.
Julian Castro came off the worst.
"If you did your homework," he snarled at Beto O'Rourke at one point. But itwas Castro who hadn't done the homework. I'm not referring to his position, I'm referring to his inability to express his position. Most people did not know what the hell he was talking about.
You cannot go to an issue like immigration and start in the weeds. This is not an issue that we speak of honestly or fully. Regardless of your position on the subject (mine is similar to Julian's), you have to walk people through. Julian didn't. Many viewers were likely unsure what he was advocating for but were clear that he attacked Beto and, worse, he attacked some viewers.
If you were watching and had not invested heavily in immigration, you could not decipher the position he was indicating, his remarks to Beto also applied to you, "I think you should do your homework on this issue. If you did your homework on this issue you would know that we should repeal this section."
That was a huge mistake. Julian failed to express his position in clear language and then he offered that insult to Beto which did not go over well with viewers because any confusion they had, per the candidate, was because they hadn't done the work required.
And backing up my point, CNN brought on Julian for a victory lap that quickly turned into an embarrassment as he was unable to calmly and clearly convey his position. He fumbled repeatedly and gave a completely false response -- call it a lie. This did not begin with Donald Trump, the current response to immigration. Barack Obama was called the deporter in chief. These are facts but Julian doesn't want to address them. He can't explain his position clearly in a debate and even when given the opportunity to do so with a friendly interviewer, he falters. He was so sure that he looked impressive but many may not shared that opinion.
In the debate, Julian also came close to tears and did that help anyone? Julian's already the shortest man on the stage and it appeared Elizabeth Warren was at least as tall as Julian and maybe taller. So the visual there deserves exploring. Cory Booker also teared up -- while discussing shootings -- but he was tall and towering and he connected it to the personal.
CNN had Julian on this morning because he was the number one searched candidate after the debate. That doesn't mean support for him. However, assuming that it did, their chart showed that the second most searched was Tulsi Gabbard and the third was Beto O'Rourke.
If Julian scored so well and the searches were a result of that, it's difficult to grasp how Beto would be number three since they had the exchange.
It's also difficult to grasp how CNN and others work so hard to ignore Tulsi. Tulsi Gabbard definitely made a strong impression in the debate. This despite Chuck Todd's little snit-fit.
One of the most significant moments in the two hour debate was prompted by Rachel's questioning.
MADDOW: I’m going to pick up — I want to pick up this point, and I want to put this to Congressman Ryan. Today the Taliban claimed responsibility for killing two American servicemembers in Afghanistan. Leaders as disparate as President Obama and President Trump have both said that they want to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, but it isn’t over for America. Why isn’t it over? Why can’t presidents of very different parties and very different temperaments get us out of there? And how could you?
RYAN: I appreciate that question. So I’ve been in Congress 17 years. And 12 of those years I’ve sat on the Armed Services Committee, the Defense Appropriations Committee or the Armed Services Committee.
And the lesson that I’ve learned over the years is that you have to stay engaged in these situations. Nobody likes it. It’s long. It’s tedious. But right now, we have — so I would say we must be engaged in this. We must have our State Department engaged. We must have our military engaged to the extent they need to be.
But the reality of it is, this president doesn’t even have people appointed in the State Department to deal with these things, whether we’re talking about Central America, whether we’re talking about Iran, whether we’re talking about Afghanistan. We’ve got to be completely engaged.
And here’s why, because these flare-ups distract us from the real problems in the country. If we’re getting drones shot down for $130 million, because the president is distracted, that’s $130 million that we could be spending in places like Youngstown, Ohio, or Flint, Michigan, or rebuilding — or rebuilding…
MADDOW: Congresswoman Gabbard, I’m going to give you 30 seconds, actually, to jump off what he said. He described engagement as the problem.
GABBARD: Is that what you will tell — is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan? Well, we just have to be engaged? As a soldier, I will tell you, that answer is unacceptable.
We have to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. We are in a place in Afghanistan where we have lost so many lives. We’ve spent so much money. Money that’s coming out of every one of our pockets, money that should be going into communities here at home, meeting the needs of the people here at home.
We are no better off in Afghanistan today than we were when this war began. This is why it’s so important to have a president and commander-in-chief who knows the cost of war and who’s ready to do the job on day one. I am ready to do that job when I walk into the Oval Office.
TODD: Listen, I’m going to go down the line — I’m going to go down — I’m going to go down — I’m going to go down the line here. You know what, you felt — you felt like she was rebutting you. Get 30 seconds, go.
RYAN: Thank you. You’re a very good man. I appreciate that.
TODD: Fair enough. I hear what you’re saying. She invoked your name.
RYAN: I would just say, I don’t want to be engaged. I wish we were spending this money in places that I’ve represented that have been completely forgotten and we were rebuilding. But the reality of it is, if the United States isn’t engaged, the Taliban will grow. And they will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts. We have got to have some presence there…
GABBARD: The Taliban was there long before we came in. They’re going to be there long before we leave.
RYAN: And they were — yeah, exactly. Well, we were.
GABBARD: We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we’re going to somehow squash this Taliban that’s been there, that every other country that’s tried has failed.
RYAN: I didn’t say — I didn’t say squash them. I didn’t say squash them. When we weren’t in there, they started flying planes into our buildings. So I’m just saying right now … we have an obligation…
GABBARD: The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11. Al Qaida did.
RYAN: Well, I — I understand…
GABBARD: Al Qaida attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after Al Qaida, not the Taliban.
RYAN: I understand that. The Taliban…
TODD: Go ahead, Congressman. Finish up, 10 seconds.
RYAN: The Taliban was protecting those people who were plotting against us. All I’m saying is, if we want to go into elections, and we want to say that we’ve got to withdraw from the world, that’s what President Trump is saying. We can’t. I would love for us to.
GABBARD: You know who’s protecting Al Qaida right now? It’s Saudi Arabia.
Rebecca Morin (USA TODAY) picks some winners and includes US House Rep and Iraq War veteran Tulsi Gabbard:
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard was arguably an afterthought going into Wednesday's debate.
But the Hawaii representative exceeded expectations. Her answers were clear, concise and she had palpable stage presence.
She did not shy away from addressing her past stance opposing same-sex marriage.
“There is no one in our government at any level who has the right to tell any American who they should be allowed to love or who they should be allowed to marry," she said, pointing to how some Americans could also "relate to the fact that I grew up in a socially conservative home" and "held views when I was very young that I no longer hold today."
Gabbard also had a moment when talking about foreign policy, a topic that has been controversial for the congresswoman given her views on Syrian leader Bashar al Assad.
During a heated exchanged with Ryan, Gabbard pointed out that the Taliban did not attack the World Trade Center on 9/11.
"That's why I and other people joined the military," she continued, "to go after Al Qaeda. Not the Taliban."
Tulsi scored. And by CNN's 'metric' -- Google searches after the debate -- she really scored. Is there a reason so many in the press refuse to give her credit for her accomplishment?
CNN noted that she mentioned her service in the military five times during the two hour debate -- and noted that with a smirk.
She's an Iraq War veteran, why shouldn't she mention it and why is CNN smirking about a woman being a veteran?
Another winner would be Amy Klobuchar who came off as someone who thought on her feet, as someone you could relate to and as someone who could make a one liner work. Julian could learn a thing or two from her. Senator Elizabeth Warren was largely lost in the second hour of the debate -- lost by the moderators. She did better in the first hour where she was more of a focus. In all, she probably did everything she needed to in order to establish her credentials.
For the most part, the candidates and the moderators zoomed in on issues that really mattered so they can all get an earned round of applause for that.
All set off between the two "***" were added at 1:30 pm same day. We had to speak to a group first thing (8:00 AM EST) so the snapshot was rushed. A few are asking about Elizabeth Warren in e-mails.
Warren came out strongly for Medicare For All. That is the most popular position on one of the biggest domestic issues. Only Mike deBlasio also came out strongly for Medicare For All. Elizabeth talked about real solutions and talked about the country's future. She came off forward looking and, on stage, was a leader. The second hour focused less on her but that's fine, she'd already made a strong impression in the first hour.
Amy, a few e-mails asked about. Since Bully Boy Bush ran in 2000, we've heard 'the one you'd most like to have a beer with.' Did it exist before Bully Boy Bush? It may have. I might have missed it. For the record, I wouldn't have had a drink with BBB (nor would I have done a line of blow with him). But if that's a metric -- and the press has insisted it is -- Amy won that. Near the end, she declared:
Three things to know about me. First, I listen to people and that’s how I get things done. That is my focus. I have a track record of passing over 100 bills where I’m the lead Democrat. And that is because I listened and I acted. And I think that’s important in a president. Everything else just melts away.
Secondly, I’m someone that can win and beat Donald trump. I have won every place, every race, and every time. I have won in the reddest of districts, ones that Donald Trump won by over 20 points. I can win in states like Wisconsin and Iowa and in Michigan.
And finally, yeah, I am not the establishment party candidate. I’ve got respect, but I’m not that person. I am the one that doesn’t have a political machine, that doesn’t come from money. And I don’t make all the promises that everyone up here makes.
But I can promise you this. I am going to govern with integrity. I’m going to (OFF-MIKE) I’m going to govern for you.
She was completely believable. She was personable, she was real, she was often hard hitting and frequently funny while hitting hard. Considering some of the press she has received, her performance may have been the biggest surprise of the night.
Tulsi? I thought Tulsi did an excellent job. Throughout, she did an excellent job. Look at her first exchange, for example:
HOLT: All right, thank you. I want to put the same question to Congresswoman Gabbard. Your thoughts on equal pay?
GABBARD: First of all, let’s recognize the situation we’re in, that the American people deserve a president who will put your interests ahead of the rich and powerful. That’s not what we have right now.
I enlisted in the Army National Guard after the Al Qaida terror attacks on 9/11 so I could go after those who had attacked us on that day. I still serve as a major. I served over 16 years, deployed twice to the Middle East, and in Congress served on the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Affairs for over six years.
I know the importance of our national security, as well as the terribly high cost of war. And for too long, our leaders have failed us, taking us from one regime change war to the next, leading us into a new cold war and arms race, costing us trillions of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars and countless lives.
This insanity must end. As president, I will take your hard-earned taxpayer dollars and instead invest those dollars into serving your needs, things like health care, a green economy, good-paying jobs, protecting our environment, and so much more.
I applaud that. I'm for equal pay. She really didn't talk equal pay, you can argue. But you're not going to have equal anything when all of your money goes overseas to support never-ending wars. I thought her answer was accurate and needed. I think the debate focused on real issues -- and I will give Savannah, Lester, Jose, Chuck and Rachel credit for that -- as noted earlier, Rachel sparked one of the best exchanges of the night with her question. But I'd argue that Tulsi and Elizabeth both deserve credit for focusing on issues and on the really big ones.
I'd argue that Tulsi, Elizabeth and Amy all came off presidential. I don't think the same can be said of all the men on stage. The women did their job very well. I might not have agreed on every position but they advocated for where they stood and did so clearly and they looked like leaders.
Of the men?
It was a very unimpressive group.
I thought Cory (whose politics I don't care for -- he's to the right of me) was surprisingly effective. I've seen him speak but this was my first exposure to him in a debate. I was surprised by how well he presented himself and his positions.
After him? I'd argue Beto did well. I thought that when I watched the debate, I thought so as we spoke to four different groups (people who will be voting in November -- will be, not likely) this morning.
The media is in love with Julian. I'm not seeing that with the people. We're speaking in New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, women and men (that we spoke with) felt that Julian was rude and trying to stage conflict.
Julian doesn't have a national presence, he's short, balding, has glassy eyes and either feral teeth or baby teeth (I thought baby teeth but a number of people referred to them as feral). Those are a lot of gaps to overcome.
Wally says I have to include something. This is from 2005, from Ava and my "TV: Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey Reporting for Two Hours of Self-Love:"
Jessica Simpson, we can't figure out. There have been plenty of big boobed starlets over the years. But they usually didn't suffer from short legs, knobby knees, eyes set too close together and a nonexistant ass. Or at least not all four. If you're wondering why we're appraising her physical appearance, it's because what else is there? She's not a singer in the sense that she moves people with her voice and she's not racked up a lot of hit singles unless you use the term "hit single" very, very loosely. She wants to be an actress and, with her voice, pursuing other avenues is strongly advised.
One person told us she was Ann-Margaret. That's simply not true. Margaret had (and has) talent. She also had an endearing personality that wasn't village idiot of the entertainment world. Another person told us she was the new Raquel Welch. While it took time for Welch to warm up and demonstrate that there was a brain and soul inside, there's no arguing that, from the start, she was beautiful. Unless the camera catches her at exactly the most flattering angle (3/4 face, shot from above), Simpson doesn't even qualify for pretty.
We feel she's a newly discovered species, the non-star star famous because a magazine cover tells you that she is. The ultimate sign of how non-reality based our nation has gotten. A possible argument for some new creationist "theory" of non-intelligent design.
Maybe the talk about the disappointment of Dukes of Hazzard is premature? But we're told she's laughable (not in the good way and supposedly her nose didn't film well), that females complained about the hairdos on Sean Williams Scott and Johnny Knoxville (they do look like dorks). People are saying the film will be lucky to do as well at the box office as the film version of Beverly Hillbillies.
We're sort of hoping the talk is wrong. Someone willing to do a "special" for the troops that highlights themselves and equates their "service" to a "Tour of Duty" knows no bounds. If Dukes of Hazzard flops, we're frightened to imagine what Simpson has planned next. She's like Pia Zadora with more desperation and stamina. The only thing worse than picturing what new harm she can inflict upon the nation is realizing that there's a good chance Nick Lachey will be at her side to assist.
Wally says Julian Castro is the Jessica Simpson of politics.
Again, not one group we spoke to contained a single person impressed with him. Each group contained many people who were bothered by his 'antics' on stage.
I have not seen any debate coverage either then what CNN offered as this was being posted this morning. Frank Bruni was on CNN gushing over Julian. But I'm told online at his paper, he's praising Elizabeth Warren. That's Frank, he's the bi-polar commentator.
The press wants Julian to do well. (Julian is a Clintonista centrist. He is not left. You can argue he's left on immigration. But since that's the only issue he's left on, I'm not sure how much that will help.)
The people we spoke to did not feel "Shorty" did very well at all.
There was a politician in Texas who was a joke for carrying a step stool around with him -- not Beto, this is far before Beto and Beto is actually tall. But this politician would put down the step stool before any camera shooting could take place, he'd put it down and stand on it. He was a joke. During one election cycle, he ran as a family man -- despite the fact that his wife had already filed for divorce. That detail the press was willing to ignore (yes, he was a Republican).
Point being I laugh whenever I think about his obsession with appearances but people are obsessed with appearances. He was right. And Julian might need to factor that in.
Or, to steal from the Jessica Simpson critique of 2005, some politicians are problematic in appearance. But they usually don't suffer from being short, balding, glassy eyed and feral teeth -- or at least not all four.
Julian can take comfort in the fact that Tim Ryan was the loser. The exchange we highlighted above? It was cited throughout every group we spoke to. Multiple people brought that up. The feeling was it's over for Tim Ryan and we heard "he should drop out" repeatedly in each group.
Tonight, the eyes will be on Joe Biden to see whether or not he fumbles. Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) notes:
For now the dim bulb former vice president is hidden. He makes few appearances and doesn’t talk to the press. That is because he is as they say “gaffe prone.” He isn’t just a cynical opportunist, he is also stupid and can’t be trusted to be unscripted with the media. No wonder Democrats miss Obama, who is very smart and could convince everyone that he was on their side. They are now left with the dregs, an old school party hack who can’t hide his mediocrity.
The 2020 election will end in disaster for black people no matter who becomes the next president. Dumping the democrats is the only solution to what ails us. They don’t want to change and they aren’t even likely to win. If Biden crashes and burns another puppet will be presented as the savior. Black misleaders will prop up that person too and their constituents will be the losers.
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