• More Dem Debaters: Who Won? Who Lost? Who Despises the Rich? Moderates? What Moderates?

    Surge Summary: More Democratic Primary contenders met to debate last night: Joe Biden seemed to help himself, Kamala Harris possibly didn’t advance her cause and many of the candidates engaged in heated exchanges.

    The second entrant in the Democratic Presidential Primary’s second round of debates came and went last night, and as NBC News’ Jonathan Allen put it:

    Voters who were hoping for close combat weren’t disappointed by Wednesday night’s 10-way Democratic presidential debate. There was a lot of it, and it was fierce.

    With some help from Colorado “moderate” Sen. Michael Bennet, Joe Biden tangled with just about everyone else on the stage. Is Bennet possibly auditioning for a slot on the ticket as the former Vice President’s running mate — a possible future VP?

    Meantime, a smattering of side scraps broke out around Biden who is plainly trying to lock in his front-runner status before September’s next debate.

    An overview of each player:

    Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.: Booker, whose campaign has been sputtering, may have found a big moment in last night’s debate outing which

    featured him articulating his values, throwing rhetorical punches at Biden and President Donald Trump, and absorbing a few shots from the former VP — all with an even keel, a quick wit and a sunny demeanor.

    The erstwhile Newark mayor, appeared to ditch what Ben Shapiro has called his “angry eyes” for decidedly more cheerful ones. “A happy warrior” is how some commentators described his Wednesday PM presentation.

    Former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden: More than any other candidate he came under attack by his fellow speechifiers. The consensus seems to be he handled himself at least adequately, much better than he did when Sen. Kamala Harris went after him in Miami’s debate last month. His responses, it needs to be said, were occasionally uneven, he flubbed a number of statements and at times he looked unsettled.

    Biden has a terrible habit of stopping mid-sentence at the moderator’s first mention that “Time’s up!” It makes the seventy-six-year-old look old, somewhat flighty and not particularly committed to his positions.

    That aside, while

    he wasn’t as good at defending his record as he was at picking apart those of others — he came out of the gate by tearing into Harris and her health care plan effectively enough to reassure his supporters.

    Speaking of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. …

    Most pundits seemed to agree she had a less-than-spectacular evening.

    She was a target for everyone from Biden to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and found herself struggling to defend her record as a prosecutor in California and clearly distinguish her health care plan from the Medicare for All proposal she has abandoned.

    She did manage a handful of “middling zingers”, but was it enough to make the event a plus for her campaign? Probably not.

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.: It’s questionable if the New York pol will meet the donor and polling thresholds necessary for her to qualify for next month’s face-off. Full of vim and vigor and earnestness, Gillibrand took an anticipated shot at Biden — which Allen thinks she missed.

    She accused [Biden] of not believing women should work outside the home, which he easily turned back by talking about his decades of work on public policy issues involving equality for women in the workplace.

    Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii: The Hawaii congresswoman raised lots of eyebrows by meticulously and forcefully going after Harris’ work as a prosecutor. Her bill of gripes included:

    cracking down on marijuana, not more firmly opposing the death penalty and supporting a cash bail system. She also accused President Donald Trump of “supporting al Qaeda” — a comment that debate moderators and candidates chose not to follow up on.

    Reportedly, as with last month’s showing, Gabbard did well enough to become an internet sensation over the course of the night: she was the top-searched candidate on Google during the debate.

    Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.: If “climate change” is a voter’s number one concern, then he/she was likely pleased with Inslee’s second debate effort.

    As he has on the campaign trail, in television appearances and in the first debate, he focused his message on what he described as a burning-house matter that can’t wait. But he was largely a non-factor on other matters.

    Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.:

    Bennet teamed up with Biden to tie Harris to progressives’ Medicare for All plan at the start of the debate, disappeared at times and then re-emerged briefly in the middle of the debate to bail Biden out of discussions about desegregation and mass incarceration in the past.

    Bennet argued segregation has worsened and that the mass incarceration problem could be solved by better education.

    “Let’s fix our school system,” he said to obvious audience approval.

    Andrew Yang: Although the self-spoken entrepreneur has surprised some by polling ahead of other more widely known candidates, for the most part he wasn’t a dominant factor in last night’s encounter.

    His closing statement, about his outsider status, was his highlight. “We’re up her with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles in this reality TV show,” he said. “It’s one reason why we elected a reality TV star as our president. We need to be laser-focused on solving the real challenges of today.”

    Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro: 

    After gaining a bit of fame for knocking down Beto O’Rourke in his first debate outing, Castro went hunting for bigger prey Wednesday night. He went after Biden on immigration. “What we need is politicians who actually have some guts on this issue.”

    Biden didn’t take that dig lying down, retorting he had “guts enough” to knock the former San Antonio mayor’s plan to decriminalize illegal border crossing. “[It] doesn’t make sense,” criticized Biden.

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio: The Mayor of New York City was aggressive and dogged – and abrasive?

    Before he’d been asked a single question, “Gotham’s mayor” singled out Biden and Harris in his opening statement, setting the stage for a night of swings and misses.

    It’s unclear whether his “tax-the-he**-out-of-the wealthy”, class-centered ugliness will ring true with primary voters.

    One thing remains clear as the second debate of the second phase of these gatherings is behind us: in the world of contemporary Democrats, “moderate” or “centrist” doesn’t mean what it used to.

    Image: Screen Shot: CNN/Washington Post; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68r_-84IG-A

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