A Quick Recap of the Democratic Debate

As the final days of filing for the Presidential seat are coming to a close on November 6, five contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination took the stage in Las Vegas last night: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb.

The New York Times has predicted that unlike the divisive Republican debate, the Democrats will seek to differentiate themselves by degrees not direction, and the publication was right.

Let’s recap on how each of the Democratic candidates fared last night:

Hillary Clinton

Speaking the most onstage, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dominated the debate. Her performance will be remembered as the most powerful one due in part to the early questions played to her strengths.

Hillary even got Sanders to defend her on her e-mail scandal followed by a friendly handshake. “Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right,” Sanders said. “And that is the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails. … Enough of the emails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.”

And then the Sanders campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail bragging about his defense of Hillary!

Still, overall, very few punches landed on Hillary, and she placed a couple of blows on Sanders before his e-mail defense. Overall, she had a good night, if not the best night.

Bernie Sanders

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders needed to look like he could win a general election. Because he has been self-described as a ‘socialist’, this outlook might not be a winning persona for Democratic voters and he needed to prove that he has what it takes to defeat a Republican.

Sanders may have won almost all the focus groups after the debate, but he got beaten up by both Hillary and O’Malley in the first part of the debate. His plea to work with the gun lobby for common-sense and consensus reforms fell on deaf ears on this stage, and Sanders ended up backpedaling from it in the end.

Martin O’Malley

During last night’s debate, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley had to show voters that he’s actually in the race. Before the date, O’Malley was polling at single digits and this was his time to steal the show. Well, did he?

O’Malley raised his stature in the race with this debate. He made the best emotional connection with the audience, and he presented himself as a consistent progressive with an accomplished record.

And after the debate, he was upbeat over laying out his record in front of a national audience.

“As I look at tonight, this was the opening kickoff. This was not the two-minute warning. … And for the first time tonight, people see they have a choice,” O’Malley said. “People see there are alternatives out there to the two frontrunners, and I believe this campaign is really just beginning in earnest.”

His performance may change his numbers in the polls, but not significantly enough against giants Hillary and Sanders. Maybe a VP slot is in the near future for O’Malley.

Lincoln Chafee

Former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee (wait, who?) has the same problem as O’Malley but to a greater extent. Chafee is polling around one percent and if he wants more he needs to really shine.

Chafee’s only defining moment during the debate was explaining that he shouldn’t be held accountable for a bank deregulation vote he made in Congress because it was one of the first he cast.

Jim Webb

Webb was a former Republican turned Democratic senator during the Bush years. According to ABC News, he’s more conservative than everyone else and last night was a test to see if that tactic would appeal to Democratic voters.

Giving the most quizzical answer during the debate, Webb responded to a question moderator Anderson Cooper asked about an enemy each candidate is most proud of making during their political career.

While the other candidates listed Iranians, the National Rifle Association and various industries and special interest groups as their enemies, Webb replied with this: “I would have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to,” Webb said, smiling. Ok….

But he also spent his time expressing discontent about not getting enough air time — so much so that much of the air time he was given was spent talking about not getting air time.

Ultimately, Webb sounded completely out of touch with the philosophical temperament of the Democratic Party. Hope he has a Plan B!

As predicted, Tuesday’s Democratic debate was not a firework-filled forum like the GOP has maintained, which is heavily dominated by a bombastic businessman, an impulsive neurosurgeon and rush of conservative enthusiasm. The five candidates on Tuesday’s stage were all long-serving politicians.

In cases you’re wondering about the air time numbers (ahem, Jim Webb), the final tally of speaking time in the Democratic Debate was Clinton 30:25, Sanders 27:41, O’Malley 17:08, Webb 15:20, Chafee 9:05.

No surprises there.

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