Let’s have a discussion: How did the first round of 2020 Democratic Presidential Debates go?


June 29, 2019 by epoetus


Given how far away the primaries are it is interesting to consider what to expect from this first round of debates. It doesn’t seem as though we’re trying to pick winners at this point, but we definitely want to winnow down the field.



To help kick off this discussion here are some sentiments from fellow Democrats in San Juan County:
“ I thought that both nights of debate were really exciting, and if the Democrats do win the White House in 2020 they obviously have a lot of talent for cabinet positions, almost “an embarrassment of riches.” Eric Swalwell didn’t come across too well, which is a pity because he is a really fine, upstanding Democrat. Jay Inslee spoke well, but lacked spark; he would make an excellent head of the EPA as he gets things done. Joe Biden would make a really fine president, but then we would have yet another old, white male. The Democratic Party is more exciting than that. Mayor Pete B. came across really well, and I thought he was impressive. I liked Beto O’Rourke too. Both of these men had a broad grasp of the issues. The woman from Hawaii [Tulsi Gabbard] spoke very well, but I doubt that she is well known nationally (and I can’t remember her name!) I would like to see some polls which show how Democrats would vote after the debates.
Rita O’Clair”



“[…] I think it is unfair for candidates to criticize Biden for views he held in the 70’s. I can think of a lot of things that I am viewing differently today. The questions should be “what do you think of busing today.” That said, Harris is a great candidate.
Elizabeth Warren is very consistent. She has her opinion and stands by them. Government should work for the people rather than the rich.
Buttigieg (sp??) [that is correct] was also convincing, especially because he admitted that “he couldn’t get it done” in terms of incarcerating African Americans.
On the whole, every Democrat on stage would be a better president than what we have. Every one is acceptable. I have to agree with Biden who doesn’t want to “tear down” anyone because later the Republicans will use that to attack Democrats. Biden didn’t attack anyone..
So, in other words I am focused on Biden, Harris, Warren, and Buttigieg (sp??)

Brigitte Hees, Ph.D.”



“The two candidates whose views I most support are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but running a candidate with the right views is only part of the equation. We also need the candidate who has the best chance to beat Trump. After watching the first round of debates, we think that the strongest candidate to stand up to Trump and defeat him on the debate stage and at the polls is Kamala Harris. We have a few reservations about her, as she is new to the national scene, and we are afraid that like with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, we will get another candidate who campaigns as a progressive but ends up as a centrist once in office. Also, we think she is too conventional on foreign policy. In addition, as a prosecutor and state attorney general, there are a few questionable items in her past. However, overall she was a progressive official, and we think she would push us farther left than a Biden or Klobuchar. And if our overriding goal is defeating Trump, we will have to give Ms. Harris serious consideration.

David and Geri Turnoy”


First debate night observations
Relative ranking of the candidates
• Most of the feedback from pundits and informal discussions indicates that Julian Castro moved up significantly in people’s estimation of him
• Ohio Representative Tim Ryan seemed to have captured the ‘crashed and burned’ prize when Tulsi Gabbard schooled him on military engagement.
• Two hands went up for Medicare For All – Elizabeth Warren, and Bill de Blasio
Climate Change
• Support for climate change as an existential crisis
• Julian raised to topic of using laws to separate parents from children
• The need for real immigration policy
• Julian drove home the point that the images of Oscar and Valaria who drowned this past week demonstrate that Trump’s policies are killing people
• There was a surprising amount of support for inequality as an issue
Gun Control
• Corey Booker stood out on the gun control topic
• Candidates were eager to share their Spanish bona fides

Overall behavior and decorum

• There was a fair amount of interrupting, which seemed to be the way in which candidates injected themselves so that they could reply to someone else’s answer.

Second debate night impressions
Relative ranking of the candidates
• Kamila Harris moved up significantly at the expense of Joe Biden who seemed to lose some ground when the subject of busing was discussed
• The ‘trick’ question: Medicare for all and abolishing private insurance – essentially providing Medicare for all who want it versus mandating Medicare for all
• Kamila, like Bernie, supports Medicare for all, but unlike Bernie does not believe in abolishing private insurance under the Medicare for all plan – she believes I supplemental private insurance.
• Kirsten Gillibrand and Pete Buttigieg also supports Medicare for all who want it.
A focus on grounding oneself in personal stories that people can relate to
• Kamila and her busing story
Gun control
• Joe Biden spoke out on his support of the assault weapons ban
• Pete Buttigieg supports an assault weapon ban
Defeating Trump
• Bernie pointed out that we need to point out that he is a fraud and a liar
Women’s health
• Kirsten Gillibrand stood out on this topic
The key to solving our political problems
• Love
• Looking at the root cause – inequality
• State sponsored crimes: kidnapping and inhuman incarceration
Overall behavior and decorum
• There was more interrupting on the second night. Kirsten Gillibrand seemed to stand out for her interruptions

Fact Checking the first debate

Takeaways from the first debate

First debate live blog and highlights from NBC News
First night Reuters
First night CNN
First night
Second night CNN
Second night – Medicare for all

2 thoughts on “Let’s have a discussion: How did the first round of 2020 Democratic Presidential Debates go?

  1. Robert Boyd Oldacre says:

    Please, don’t fall for presentations and personalities. Beto O’Rourke was a nothing Congressman and seems to bend whichever way the wind is blowing. Mayor Pete
    comes across well but is very vague about policies and procedures. Do you really think the US is ready to elect a gay president? Does he have the stature of a president?

    I think that we should be looking at a candidate’s policies, how s/he imagines we’ll enact those,
    and the quality of his/her philosophical foundation. In short, not just slogans and bullet points.
    Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have presented the most policies and described their
    foundation: Democratic Socialism and Progressive Populism. Bill De Blasio hinted at his
    basic beliefs but we need more. Jay Inslee has the best policies on combatting climate
    catastrophe, but needs a more focused debate in which to present them. No candidate
    mentioned the Green New Deal and its derivative programs for health care, economic justice, etc. What will they do about fracking, tar sands oil, plastics, electric vehicles, forever wars,
    immigration law (an open border is not going to be acceptable), oil drilling, severely limiting
    carbon emissions (not cap and trade or carbon fees but real limits), etc.

    For all her negatives, Kamala Harris has potential. Can we push her more to the left and get
    more specifics out of her? Ditto DeBlasio. Can Inslee embrace and enhance Green New Deal?

    In 2016, the DNC went with one of the most hated people in America: Hillary Clinton.
    Do not let them saddle us with Biden – or Beto or Pete or Amy . There are 5 worth a hoot:
    Sanders, Warren, Inslee, DeBlasio and Harris.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. epoetus says:

    I am hearing that we should focus on the South Carolina polls and primaries, where Biden is way ahead of the pack. Does anyone have any thoughts on the impact of that on the Democratic primaries?


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