Who Won the Democratic Debate
There was nothing 'galactically stupid' from either candidate
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2016 5:22 AM CST
Updated Mar 7, 2016 6:16 AM CST
Bernie Sanders argues a point as Hillary Clinton listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Michigan-Flint on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(Newser) – The Democratic debate in Flint, Mich., on Sunday night turned out to be a pretty good night for almost everybody involved, analysts say: Neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders had any disastrous moments, the city kept its devastating water crisis in the national spotlight, and the party could boast about a debate considerably more substantive than the last Republican effort. On balance, more commentators say Clinton was the winner, despite Sanders spending more time on the attack than usual.

  • Sanders "didn't knock Clinton off her game in any meaningful way," making the debate a loss for him, according to Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. On "guns, on failing schools, and on Flint," Clinton "was confident and effective," writes Cillizza, who was disappointed by Sanders' dismissive "Excuse me, I'm talking" rebuttal to "someone trying to become the first female presidential nominee in either party."

  • With the delegate math on her side, all Clinton had to do "was avoid saying anything so tremendously, galactically stupid that she would sabotage her own success," and she succeeded with a smart and engaging performance, according to Dara Lind and Libby Nelson at Vox. But Sanders—who "appeared more comfortable speaking about race and racism than he ever has before"—also succeeded with a performance that would have made a very good impression on viewers previously unfamiliar with him, they write.
  • Most Clinton-Sanders exchanges could be considered a draw, but she came out on top when it came to gun control, an issue where the senator from Vermont is seen as vulnerable, writes Glenn Thrush at Politico. She complained that when it came to a measure to make gun companies liable for killings, "he had voted to grant 'absolute immunity' in the Senate," writes Thrush. Sanders' response—"What you're really talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America"—will be spun by the Clinton camp as standing up for the gun lobby, he predicts.
  • With Michigan voting March 8, Clinton scored vital points by launching an effective attack over Sanders' opposition to the auto bailout, writes Eric Bradner at CNN. Overall, he writes, the debate was a big win for the Democratic base, with both candidates spending so much time defending "government spending and intervention, teachers' unions, gun control, clean energy programs, and efforts to fight climate change" that there was barely time to mention the Republicans.
Click for some of the debate's best lines, and for reaction to Sanders' controversial "ghetto" remark.