Last night’s Democratic debate promised to produce sparks, as it was the last debate before primary voting begins with the Iowa caucuses in a few weeks. The debate lived up to its billing. It certainly was the liveliest, most spirited debate up to this point in the campaign season. The question asked after any debate is always the same: who won, who lost?
My question after watching the NBC debate is, “How many people, besides political geeks like myself, actually watched the debate? Sunday, after all, was a long day of NFL playoff football. There is only so much TV watching a person can take.
As with past Democratic debates, I thought the winner was the Democratic Party. Unlike the circus performances that have become the hallmark of Republican presidential debates, real issues were discussed in a civil and respectful manner. You did not hear any candidate accuse another of having a mother who wears army boots.
Yes, the candidates tried to distinguish themselves from one another but basically what you got were core Democratic principles framed in different ways. Hillary tried to paint Bernie Sanders as having a weak voting record on gun control, accusing him of voting, on some bills, with the NRA. Sanders reminded Clinton that he has a D+ rating with the NRA, hardly the ranking of someone who is loved by the gun advocacy group.
Clinton and Sanders also clashed on healthcare. While Sanders asked voters to think big (i.e. true universal healthcare), Clinton praised the president’s historic Obamacare and simply suggested it needed to be improved, not scrapped. Sanders, of course, retorted that he did not advocate for the elimination of Obamacare but that “single payer” is his goal.
I doubt many minds were swayed after last night’s performances. If you were for Bernie, you still are for Bernie. If you were a Hillary fan, she is still your woman. And for the 5-6 O’Malley supporters, I doubt any lost faith in their candidate.
Personally, I believe Bernie Sanders needs to win both in Iowa and New Hampshire to have any chance at becoming the Party’s nominee. Bernie’s other path to the nomination would be a new Hillary scandal or the worsening of one already out there. With the Clintons, you never know.
The next Democratic presidential debate will be on February 11, hosted by PBS … two days after the second primary voting in New Hampshire!
Great work DNC chair, Debbie “Madusa” Wasserman Schultz! (Debbie “Madusa” Wasserman Schultz May Have Done Bernie A Favor)
Photo | REUTERS/Randall Hill