Last night the 5 democratic presidential candidates debated in Las Vegas, Nevada with CNN and Facebook sponsoring this event.
Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton was center stage with the Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to her left, the former Mayor of Baltimore Martin O’Malley to her right, and Senator Jim Webb and Governor Lincoln Chafee at the ends of the stage.
Clinton made it a point to target the NRA and say that Americans need to stand up to them and go with what the majority of the country wants on gun control. The topic of the email scandal of course came up and Clinton admitted that she did make a mistake and she has and will continue to answer all questions about the topic. She made it a point to target the Republican lead committee who has been seen in the media saying that their goal is to drive her polls down. When confronted by Governor Chafee and given the opportunity to respond, she simply said no. This can be looked at as not taking the Governor as a serious candidate or she’s tired of talking about. The highlight of this topic was when Senator Sanders chimed in and said, “American’s are tired of hearing about your damn emails! It is time we about the real issues facing America”. This line stole the show and got the loudest applause from the audience throughout the whole debate.
Sanders proved to be the most liberal on most issues except gun control where Clinton certainly is further left on that issue. O’Malley proved to the be the furthest left when it comes to climate change and the energy crisis in this country as he laid out a plan to have America be 100% clean electrical grid by 2050. Chafee struggled to stand out when talking about issues as did Webb. Talking of the economy, Sanders views on regulating Wall Street, campaign finance, the struggling middle class, and raising the minimum wage resonated well with the audience and the middle class. Clinton made the statement that when “Democrats are in the White House the economy does better” and how her plan is much tougher on the big banks and we must deal with the area called “Shadow Banking”. O’Malley aligned himself with a lot of what Sanders stated and showed how he implanted them in the state of Maryland while he was governor. His main difference was that he wants to separate the casino, mega banks from the commercial banking and reinstate Glass-Stegall.
Overall, Webb found it very hard to stand out during the debate as he had very little time to talk and when he did talk it almost sounded like he used the same block statements about his military experience and being in the pentagon to answer most questions. Chafee did stand out more than Webb but also did not gain too much traction. O’Malley showed the country that he is a real candidate with real ideas that can move this country in the direction the democratic party wants it to go. However, Clinton and Sanders stole the show. They were the focus of the debate and were certainly the loudest. Although Clinton was simply the best debater on the stage and out-performed her opponents, Sanders was the clear winner of the debate not only by listening to the applause form the audience when he spoke but every single poll that followed the debate showed Sanders as the clear winner with a margin between 60% to 75% of the people voting in those polls for Sanders. Regardless, the debate will not change polls on who will win the nomination as there were no surprises at this debate. The democratic party as a whole will benefit more than these individual candidates as they all banned together against the republicans and lead a strategic attack on the party as a whole together. The attack points on the Republicans were much stronger than any the Republicans have used against the Democrats.
David J. Matheny
Any opinions and views aforementioned are entirely my own and not associated with the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics