With ten candidates still in the running we have three obvious front runners and two additional wildcards. Biden, Warren and Sanders are at the top. Mayor Pete (Buttigieg) and Harris round out the top five. Yang, Klobuchar, Booker, Gabbard and Steyer should pack it in. I mean, after something like fifteen debates if you’re not in the top 3-5 you should, you know - move on.
In fact, I’m willing to bet most of you went - “Steyer? Who is Steyer?” I know, right? There are too many people running. Let’s get rid of some of the candidates on the bottom. Also, Tom Steyer is a non politician, progressive billionaire who wants term limits for Congress, wants to decriminalize illegal border crossings and wants to expand the Supreme Court. Well, term limits for Congress is a fantastic idea! I’m all for that. Unfortunately, he’s polling at less than 1% so I’m not sure what he’s still doing in the race.
Anyway. Sanders is out raising them all, but seems to be consistently in the number three spot in terms of news coverage and polls. Warren, just a few weeks ago was the clear front runner but she took a huge slump, for some reason. And now it’s good old “Uncle Joe” back as the front runner. Which, you may remember, is Biden’s unofficial nickname.
Well, all of them were at it again last night at another debate that had way too many people on stage. And, I thought it was pretty clear that Mayor Pete came out on top. No one is attacking him because he’s not a front runner and so he was able to get his points across. And man o’ man Mayor Pete comes across poised, intelligent and filled to the brim with common sense and reason.
Warren did her Warren thing - Medicare for all, tax the rich. I don’t think she gained or lost ground. Same with Sanders. Biden pushed civility, which is great but I’m not sure that will help him surge up in the polls. All three of them kind of pushed their brand name. Harris, who has fallen so far behind the other front runners was more aggressive than I have seen her in the past few months and even called out President Trump for getting “punked” by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.
I don’t think last night’s debate changed the way anyone views the democratic candidates, with perhaps the exception of Mayor Pete. I know Pete is surging in Iowa, which is a critical caucus to win, but too many people don’t know him. But that’s the thing about him, the more people hear about him the more people are clearly like, “I don’t know who this guy is … but I like him!”
Yeah. Me too. He’s a great candidate. But … can he beat Donald Trump in the popular vote? Perhaps. But perhaps he’s too much of an underdog to win. Perhaps the Democrats need a big name to win. And they have three big names in Biden, Sanders and Warren. Mayor Pete just might have to wait four or eight more years for a legitimate shot.
And, I know we are still miles away from the finish line but sometimes I just wonder what is taking some of these politicians so long to drop out. Senator Harris is a decent progressive candidate but she’s clearly, and I mean clearly - too far behind. Drop out of the race and get back to the Senate - you know, the job you were elected for. I guess one could say the same about Senator Warren; however, she’s actually on top so there is reason for her to stay in the race. But Klobuchar? Gabbard? It’s not happening, maybe it’s time to get back to the Senate / House for your elected jobs. Booker? I mean, Booker had a great closing speech but this is just not your year. There is, as they say - a snowball's chance in hell the nomination will go to any of the folks on the bottom.
Unless some catastrophic event happens, it’s clearly going to be one of Biden, Sanders or Warren. Or, if they get really clever - a Biden / Warren ticket. Or a Sanders / Warren ticket. Or a Warren / Sanders ticket.
Or, heck - a Warren / Mayor Pete ticket. Think of that. Wow. I like it. (Probably won’t happen).
Any combination of the above will probably mount a decent challenge to President Trump. Just as long as Hillary Clinton doesn’t enter the race, which she (probably jokingly) hinted at a few days ago.
Ugh. She just won’t go away. Please, please Hillary - you lost to Obama, you lost to Trump. Leave it alone. The Dem’s don’t need more candidates.
Well, this is going to be easy to write. Wednesday night’s Democratic debate (that wasn’t a debate) was pretty tame and stuffed to the brim with a whole lot of “meh.” Last night’s Democratic debate (that was slightly more of a debate) had more fire. Not, much - but a bit.
And here’s the thing. It was so painfully, clearly obvious that Senator Kamala Harris came out on top that I don’t actually have anything quippy to say. I mean, when the issue of race came up, Harris beat Joe Biden down like he was an amateur. (Editor’s note: This is the same link as the one on the front page).
Just like Warren on the previous evening’s debates, Harris was razor sharp across the board and was, again (as we always say) … presidential. I think Biden, Warren and Sanders have been the obvious front runners but that’s simply because they’ve raised a lot of money and get a lot of press. Which is important.
And, while it’s true that I don’t think you can have much of a “debate” when you only allow each candidate 60 seconds to answer questions (because you’re not really going to get to the meat of the deal.) That being said, when you put ten people up on the stage, sometimes it does become clear - “who is out of their league?”
And, there was a whole lot of “this candidate is out of their league.” Andrew Yang, who is mainly an “automation is a huge problem” candidate (he’s right); self-help author Marianne Williamson, former Gov. John Hickenlooper; Rep. Eric Swalwell (who had a nice “pass the torch” exchange with Biden); Sen. Kristen Gillibrand; and finally Sen. Michael Bennet - all of which, performed well (except, perhaps for Williamson) but are clearly just “out of their league.”
Which brings it down to Harris, Biden, Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Frankly, Biden kind of bungled it. Harris clearly got under his skin and it showed. After her beat down exchange, Biden awkwardly tried to explain his positions but it didn’t matter. From that point on he was stony faced and submissive. He, quite literally, lost - and he knew it.
Sanders was … well, he was Sanders. He didn’t offer anything that he hasn’t been consistently saying his entire career in politics - free health care, go after wall street and big Pharma, end student loan debt. His usual playbook. BUT THEN, he said something that I thought took guts. When asked if he would “raise taxes on the middle class,” he told the truth. He said, “Yes.” Because - that’s how government pays for things.
I mean, politicians usually say “no” to that question (and then raise taxes on the middle class anyway). So, at least Sanders is consistent and truthful. And I do like Sanders but, compared to the youth on stage he really did stand out as … old.
So, I wouldn’t say Sanders lost the debate in the same way that Biden did; however, Sanders, I feel, probably didn’t win over new voters.
Which brings us to Pete Buttigieg, or “Mayor Pete” as his constituents know him. He’s still not mainstream well known but is considered a rising star on the left. And he is. He’s incredibly smart. He’s extremely well spoken. He’s a veteran having served in Afghanistan. He has governing experience (several years Mayor). And, to be honest - he’s just flat out likable. I don’t see him as a front runner though. He’s just too unknown. But, perhaps a VP pick or a cabinet position?
Anyway, it all comes down to this. Biden has the money. He has the reputation. But he got his butt handed to him by the fiery Senator Harris. Who also has money. Primary’s are still a long way away and anything could happen, but after two nights of hearing twenty candidates, it really does look like these folks are at the head of the pack:
Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders and VP Joe Biden (even though he lost big time last night, I wouldn’t count him out just yet). Then I would add both Julian Castro and Mayor Pete near the top of the race as they appear to be exceptionally good candidates … that probably don’t have a chance to make the top of the ticket.