Democratic Debates, Round 5: The Moments That Mattered Most
After Round 5 of the Democratic presidential debates, we add up the political scorecard. Winners, losers, breakout moments and the issues that dominate.
Aisha Moodie-Mills, Democratic political strategist. Former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, former regional finance director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and former political adviser to over a dozen members of Congress. ( @AishaMoodMills)
Megan Messerly, political reporter for the Nevada Independent. ( @meganmesserly)
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Washington Post: “ What happened in the Democratic debate: Candidates squabble over black voters, draw contrasts with Trump” — “The top candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination largely sought to speak directly to the American people rather than to draw contrasts with one another Wednesday night, in a wide-ranging presidential debate that came at a critical point in the party’s nominating contest.
“For much of the debate, the candidates shied from the biting exchanges and intraparty contrasts that marked the first four gatherings, opening new lines of conversation on issues as disparate as racial justice, marijuana policy and child care. But there were also pointed if brief disputes as the night wore on, some of them focused on black voters, a key Democratic constituency.
“The fifth Democratic primary debate, sponsored by The Washington Post and MSNBC, was the first since South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg showed signs of surging in several polls, and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) obliquely criticized him for his lack of support among black voters.”
New York Times: “ With Impeachment as Backdrop, Democrats Direct Fire at Trump in Debate” — “The Democratic presidential candidates yielded to the furor surrounding the impeachment inquiry in Washington in their primary debate on Wednesday, for the first time training their fire more steadily on President Trump than on one another and presenting a largely united front on vital issues like climate change and abortion rights.
“One month after the party’s moderate wing led a ferocious attack against Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at the previous debate, the leading Democrats opted to mute their rivalries and restrain their language, mainly detailing their disagreements in gentle or at most passive-aggressive terms. There were moments of direct friction, especially in the final minutes of the debate over matters of national security, but in many cases the candidates’ criticism was couched within jocular one-liners or pragmatic arguments about electability.
“Most telling were a handful of sharper exchanges among the 10 candidates onstage in Atlanta related to matters of race and gender. Several expressed concerns about the prospect of nominating a white man, like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. or Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California both warned that the party could not afford to select a candidate who was not capable of exciting African-American voters, and Ms. Harris repeatedly invoked ‘the Obama coalition’ as the Democrats’ best hope for electoral success.”
ABC News: “ 5 takeaways from the 5th Democratic debate” — “The Democratic primary’s top 10 polling candidates appeared in Atlanta and the debate matchup featured a night of mostly civil exchanges over the party’s policy rifts and plenty of tailored pitches as the candidates continued to court a still unsettled electorate less than three months before the first primaries.
“In one of the last primary debates of 2019, hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, the contenders continued to boast a united front on one of the key dominating external forces looming over the primary — the impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump — but the splintered field still showcased their differences over issues including health care, climate change and foreign policy over two hours of debate.
“Here are five key takeaways from Wednesday night’s fifth Democratic debate.”
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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