If you liked the first round of debates on Wednesday night than you probably loved the second round tonight. There was even more spirited discussion and candidates challenging each other directly. The second night built on the first night ratings. Just over 18 million viewers tuned in to watch the likes of front runner Joe Biden, liberal lion Bernie Sanders, along with Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete.
Here are some of my thoughts: I was very impressed by the arguments and cases made for Medicare vs. private insurance and universal health care coverage for all Americans. I think the ideas around immigration, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, and a women’s right to choose were all excellent and merit serious consideration. I thought Andrew Yang came off very low-key and low-energy and didn’t seem jazzed about anything, even his own ideas. I love that the idea of a national $15 per hour minimum wage. Income inequality was also discussed a lot and not just by Bernie Sanders. Eric Swalwell used the “pass the torch” mantra one too many times but touted a great idea about buying back certain guns from owners. How in the world did Marianne Williamson get on the stage? I can’t take her seriously at all. I think Kamala Harris had several great moments in the debate and she definitely drew blood from Joe Biden on the bussing issue. When debate seemed to be getting cantankerous she had a great zinger waiting in the wings: “Look everyone, America doesn’t want to see a food fight, they want to hear how we are going to help them put food on the table!” That was well placed and well done.
Personally, I wanted to take a moment and make sure we don’t lose the pioneering piece of history that we all witnessed. Mayor Pete was the first ever openly gay Democrat to appear on stage at an official presidential debate. Mayor Pete took a beating this week after a white officer shot another young black kid back in his hometown of South Bend. His responses to the tragedy, both oratorically and from a policy perspective, have come under scrutiny and attack. He was challenged by Rachel Maddow as she pressed him with a direct question about police not wearing their body cameras. I thought Mayor Pete responded well by accepting responsibility for “not getting it done”. Eric Swalwell seemed a little petty and looked like he was grandstanding for attention when he pushed Mayor Pete to fire the South Bend police chief. I don’t think Mayor Pete lost any support tonight but he definitely wasn’t as impressive as I’ve seen him before and probably didn’t gain any ground.