With Bernie Sanders’ stunning upset in Michigan last night, tonight’s Democratic debate instantly became a whole lot more crucial for both candidates as each campaign gears up for a crucial stretch of states next Tuesday when voters from Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri and Illinois go to the polls.
For Hillary Clinton, this debate was all about watching how she would bounce back from a very unexpected defeat. Meanwhile, Sanders was clearly trying to build on the momentum created by one of the biggest upsets in modern political history.
And coming off Sunday night’s debate when things got a little testy between the two, this was possibly the most must-see debate yet.
Let me start off by saying these questions tonight were absurd. They asked about Clinton’s emails, her trustworthiness, Benghazi and whether or not they thought Trump was a racist. Most of these questions were either “gotcha” questions or questions meant to get the two candidates to fight with one another. I was embarrassed watching it.
Personally, I thought Hillary Clinton did great. While she’s not as charismatic as Sanders, she’s much better at showing empathy and a range of emotions. Not to say that Sanders doesn’t show emotion, it’s just typically sort of angry and “mater of fact.” But Clinton I thought did extremely well in a debate where the questions seemed targeted at trying to “zing” her in some way. Hell, a clip from Fox News was played when Benghazi was brought up. Yet they didn’t ask a single time about socialism or Sanders’ version of “democratic socialism.” Which is strange considering that is the most controversial aspect of Sanders as a candidate and it will be attacked relentlessly in a general election. Yet it wasn’t mentioned once. Meanwhile, Clinton was hit on nearly every right-wing talking point that’s been used against her for the last several years.
That being said, Clinton handled herself very well. I think when immigration was brought up, she got the better of Sanders. A particularly harsh moment for Bernie came when they aired a clip of him saying the reason why he voted against immigration reform in 2007 was over his belief it would drive down wages. The problem is, this isn’t what he says now. When asked about it now, he cites the guest worker program that he often links to slave-like labor. Again, that’s not the reason he gave when asked about it back then.
But the great thing with Sanders is that he performs about the same during each of these debates. Rarely do you get many ups or downs from him during these. If there’s one thing Bernie Sanders is, he’s fairly consistent. At this point I’m not sure how someone could be “undecided” about him. If you liked him during the first debate then you probably liked him tonight.
Let me reiterate, the questions posed by the moderators tonight were ridiculous. Many of them sounded more like they were taken from a low-rung political blog than a legitimate network hosting a presidential debate. Sometimes all I could do is shake my head. When Benghazi was brought up, I literally started laughing.
I hope everyone enjoyed what we saw tonight, because we won’t see this level of maturity and adult behavior from Republicans tomorrow night. While there are moments when the two candidates got heated with one another (which is only natural this far into an election – no matter how much respect the two candidates have for one another), the disagreements are still professional.
And as I’ve said for months, as a Democrat, I’m looking at a race where we’re choosing between two great candidates. While they both have their flaws, they also both have their own unique strengths. At the end of the day, whoever ultimately wins the nomination, the Democratic party will be represented by a candidate who, on their worst day, is 1,000x’s better than any of the fools currently running for the Republican party.
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