2019 Democratic Debate: Winners and Losers


Kevin McCarthy, Social Media Editor

On Thursday, September 12, the most widely anticipated Democratic presidential debate took place in Houston, Texas. It included the top ten Democratic candidates, including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, the current front runners. The two of them had not yet shared the same debate stage and they disagree on key issues such as healthcare. Here’s who came out on top (and bottom) of the debate. 


1. Beto O’Rourke: The former Congressman had been looking for his breakout moment throughout his campaign, and he found it with the issue of gun control. Prior to the debate, a mass shooting occurred in El Paso, Texas, his hometown. After this tragedy, he became the most vocal candidate on the issue of gun safety. He made his stance on guns clear when he said, “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15”. He received the loudest applause of the night, due to the fact that many Democrats agree with his position. In addition, Mr. O’Rourke was incredibly engaged and expressed his policy ideas on health and climate change well.

2. Joe Biden: The biggest headline going into the debate was whether former Vice President Biden could withstand the phenomenal debate skills of Senator Elizebeth Warren. In the last two debates, Mr. Biden and Senator Warren debated on different nights and thus did not share the same debate stage. Senator Warren dominated her nights, while Mr. Biden was average. This was the first time they were together, but he passed the test with flying colors. He had a strong performance because he aligned himself with all of President Obama’s successes. He talked about Obamacare and pulling troops out of Iraq, both of which are popular with Democrats. 

3. Elizabeth Warren: She did not dominate as she had in the past debates, but she proved to be the better of the two extremely progressive candidates, the other being Senator Bernie Sanders. She and Senator Sanders currently split the vote among the extreme progressives, but she performed better than him in the debate. She never said that she will raise taxes, which Bernie has said and voters hate. If she can peel off some of his votes, she could tighten the race with Vice President Biden.


1. Julian Castro: The former HUD Secretary significantly hurt his already slim chances of securing the Democratic nomination with an ageist attack against former Vice President Joe Biden. On the topic of healthcare, Mr. Castro asked Biden if he was “forgetting what [he] said two minutes ago,” an obvious jab at the age of the 76-year old former Vice President. Worse, Mr. Castro made an untrue remark, claiming that all citizens would have to opt in to Mr. Biden’s healthcare plan. At this point, something remarkable would have to happen for Mr. Castro to get back in the race. 


2. Andrew Yang: Yang had been gaining traction in recent polls, but he may have lost all of his momentum in this debate. In his opening statement, he said that his campaign would be giving 10 random American families $1,000 a month for a year. For starters, this gimmick could be illegal under campaign finance laws and came across as cheesy and a waste of the $120,000 that could be used on obtaining more supporters. Later in the debate, Mr. Yang made another extremely peculiar comment when he said, “I’m Asian, so I know many doctors.” This didn’t make any sense and seemed to reinforce an ethnic stereotype. He demonstrated to some voters that he might not be presidential. 


3. Bernie Sanders: The Senator seemed angry throughout the debate. His voice was raspy and he yelled every time he spoke, which came off as unprofessional and not very presidential. As a result, after competing with Senator Warren for the Progressive vote, he came in second place. While the two of them agree on almost everything, Senator Warren surely picked up some Sanders supporters due to her calm and collected manner. 


In conclusion, this debate gave Beto O’Rourke a new life, Biden a step forward, and Warren new hope. By contrast, the debate likely sacked Castro’s chances of securing the nomination, made Andrew Yang appear crazy, and revealed Sanders as the weaker of the two Progressives.