It was not quite a love fest but the first Democratic presidential debate should remind everyone what real politicians sound like and how they behave. There was no mud slinging or Animal House food fight as was seen in the first two Republican debates. Granted it was not as fun to watch, but for those who wanted to hear candidates talk about real issues, they were not disappointed.
The five presidential candidates – Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton – showed how one could disagree without being disagreeable.
Hillary Clinton’s biggest liability, the email “scandal,” was not used as an attack vehicle by any of her four male opponents. In fact, the highlight of the debate can right after Clinton answered the predictable Anderson Copper question about that very controversy.
Clinton, as she’s done on many occasions, admitted that having her own server was a mistake. “What I did was allowed by the State Department, but it wasn’t the best choice. And I have been as transparent as I know how to be,” said Mrs. Clinton. The last part of her answer, however, will surly give her Republican rival great ammunition if she becomes the Democratic nominee. The attack ad almost writes itself.
As Clinton was dragging out her answer, Bernie Sanders came to her aid.
“Let me say something that may not be great politics, but I think the secretary is right,” said Sanders. “I think the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” Clinton turned towards Sanders, flashed a big smile and shook his hand.
Many will say that Hillary was the debate winner. She was confident, relaxed and aggressive when needed. She was not the robotic, inanimate speaker that she can be at times.
Supporters of Sanders will say their candidate stood out among the field. He was passionate in his many take-downs of the wealthy elites he believes control our country. If you’ve seen Bernie speak before, you could take comfort in the fact that Bernie was Bernie.
The second-tier candidates, O’Malley, Webb and Chafee, did not produce the breakthrough performances they had hoped for. Not one of them was able to pull a Fiorina, although O’Malley did have his moments when he talked about gun control.
The first Democratic presidential debate was not just a win for the Democratic Party, it was also a win for an American public sick of the chaos and pettiness that has engulfed the Party of Lincoln.
The second Democratic Party debate is scheduled for Nov. 14 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. It is sponsored by CBS news, KCCI and the Des Moines Register.
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