The years just pass like trains
Democratic Debate - Night 1 (2019)
Format: Youtube Livestream
1. Bill DeBlasio: If anyone is running a vanity campaign, it's this guy. He doesn't have much of a national profile and his reputation in New York City (where he is mayor) is not good. His campaign announcement was a complete joke and he hasn't really done anything since to indicate that he is serious about running. With that being said, I thought he came off OK. He was really trying to position himself as progressive while also being qualified with executive experience (something most people on the stage did not have). He took a couple of jabs at other candidates but wasn't as combative as I might've expected. I think his campaign is still a non-starter, but he could've been worse. 7/10
2. Tim Ryan: Oh man. So it's not like his campaign wasn't already dead on arrival, but Tulsi Gabbard pretty much came in and set fire to any of the remains. The gaffe of blaming the Taliban for 9/11 was a campaign killer on its own but the well deserved thrashing from Gabbard pretty much ensured that this soundbite will be the only notable thing to come out of the Ryan campaign. The rest of the debate was OK I guess but at this point it doesn't even matter. He's done. 3/10
3. Julian Castro: Julian Castro was a rising star in the Democratic party but the low profile he kept after his time in the Obama administration really hurt him going into this race. It's crazy to think he went from being one of the top choices for Hillary's VP to being a low polling candidate. With that being said, he really shined tonight and probably reminded everyone why he was seen as a favorite future presidential candidate a few years ago. His immigration policy seemed to be the marquee issue and he really hit it out of the park. He was weak on other issues but made up for it with his charisma. I'll be interested to see how his polling shifts (if at all) following tonight. He was also the only candidate who's Spanish didn't come off as cringeworthy pandering. 8/10
4. Cory Booker: Similar to Castro, Cory Booker was a rising star in the party who kinda landed with a dud when he announced. It's an interesting situation. On paper, he's the perfect candidate. Very charismatic, obviously qualified, profoundly articulate. As a young African American, he also checks a lot of demographic boxes. On the other hand, he has some shady ties to pharma and wall street. Sometimes he comes off as a standard cardboard cutout politician. Prior to this debate though he had some of the best one-off moments of any candidate. He responded very gracefully to a question about voting rights for felons that had stumped Bernie just a few days earlier. He also probably got the best jab at Biden during the latest round of gaffes. We got a lot of that political dexterity again tonight. He came off really strong. I wouldn't count him out of this thing. 9/10.
5. Elizabeth Warren: Obviously going into this, most eyes were on Warren as the only real frontrunner on stage. Unsurprisingly, this was her night. She was clear, unapologetic, and direct on every single issue. She did the least amount of sidestepping and, out of all the candidates on stage, she was the only one who I could seriously see taking on Trump. She avoided unnecessary jabs at other candidates (there was speculation that she might target Biden, but she really didn't). Her polling has been trending upwards, depending on how Biden performs tomorrow I could see her starting to hold a lead in some polls. 10/10
6. Beto O'Rourke: Man some of the opening statements were pretty bad but Beto took the cake. His was so bad that I had to pause so I could get all the laughter out of my system (hence my post from earlier). The forced spanish, completely ignoring the question, the incoherent desperate attempt at a soundbite. That was a real Little Marco moment and he's lucky there wasn't a Chris Christie on stage to bully him. That being said, did anyone notice that Beto was a bit of a punching bag for other candidates tonight? It was all pretty cordial for the most part, but I got the impression that they really don't take Beto seriously. Julian, DeBlasio, and I think Booker all either directly or indirectly took shots at him. Beto tried to go on the offensive toward Castro but it backfired bigly. His campaign was already floundering but I think this is it for him. Once you've become a meme there's no going back. 2/10
7. Amy Klobuchar: I thought Klobuchar came off OK. She had enough soundbite material to improve her polling and maybe do enough fundraising to stretch the campaign out a bit more. Out of the "moderate" candidates who are trying to run on ending the dysfunction while not totally upending the system, she makes the strongest case and comes off the best. She sells herself as a unifying force who also won't compromise with a hostile opposition. She also had one of the best oneliners of the night when she went after Inslee. That being said, she isn't nearly liberal enough for this election. The only one who is going to get away with being a moderate is Joe Biden and even he is struggling with it. Her policies make her pretty much unelectable in a primary. 6/10
8. Tulsi Gabbard: This is a strange one. I like Tulsi and I know she has a small cult following, but I don't think she was the firebrand that some may have been expecting. Foreign policy was clearly her strong point but I felt she was pretty understated through a lot of it. That seems to be her natural style, but in this type of enviornment, that's not going to work. However, none of this matters because the only thing the media is going to latch on to from Tulsi is the confrontation with Tim Ryan. That's going to be her big moment. Whether she capitalizes on the momentum in the coming weeks or eventually drops off again remains to be seen. I think she is almost a given in the next democratic administration as a SOD though. 6/10.
9. Jay Inslee: Jay Inslee was a real mixed bag. He had some solid moments and actually exceeded my expectations as a single issue candidate. He did his homework on all the issues, which I did not expect. That being said, he pretty much immediately disqualified himself in my book when he said Donald Trump was the biggest threat to the United States. Are you fucking serious? You're going to run a campaign with climate change and then when asked what the greatest geopolitical threat to the united states you don't say climate change? Not to mention Donald Trump is the dumbest answer possible. Yea it got great applause and will play well as a soundbite maybe, but it's just such a dumb answer. And it looks even dumber after several other candidates after said climate change. The abortion comment and Klobuchar's retort also really hurt, that could be a campaign killer. Meh/10
10. John Delaney: I think he did fine but was mostly boring and didn't offer anything policy wise. He was similar to Ryan in that he tried hard to push his credentials as a representative in the midwest but he didn't do anything to stand out among the crowd. I really don't understand why he's running. At least he isn't going to get an onslaught of bad press like Ryan, but people forgetting that he was even on stage isn't going to help either. I think he is pretty much done. 2/10.
Overall, it's pretty clear who the serious players are from this group. I'm looking forward to seeing the herd thin in the coming weeks. One thing I appreciated is that most candidates tried their best to make it about the issues and not about Trump. When Trump did come up sometimes it was relevant and sometimes not, but overall it feels like most of the candidates are aware of the bigger picture. Looking forward to night 2!