Takeaways From Round 2 of Democratic Debates

Kamala Harris 'stole the show'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2019 2:15 AM CDT
Takeaways From Round 2 of Democratic Debates
Joe Biden speaks to Sen. Bernie Sanders during a break at the Democratic debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Miami.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Rep. Eric Swalwell urged Joe Biden to "pass the torch" during Thursday night's Democratic debate—but if there was anyone who took momentum from the frontrunner, it was Sen. Kamala Harris. She "stole the show" during the 10-candidate debate in Miami by challenging Biden on his record on racial issues, according to the New York Times. She called his recent remarks on working with segregationist senators "hurtful" and questioned his opposition to busing programs to end school segregation. In response, Biden told the former prosecutor that he was a "public defender, I didn’t become a prosecutor." More:

  • Frontrunner stumbles. Most analysts agree that the subdued Biden, whose commanding lead in the polls ensured he would be a target, did not have a great night. Beyond the exchange with Harris, he was criticized by Bernie Sanders for his vote authorizing military action in Iraq, and may have irked Democratic voters by declaring that the NRA was "not the enemy." "Biden was not dominant at any point, though he spent much of the debate trying to placate progressives who will be vital in the primary," writes Niall Stanage at the Hill.

  • Humility from Buttigieg. Aaron Blake at the Washington Post praises the South Bend, Indiana mayor for how he handled tough questions on the shooting of a black man by police in the city. He admitted fault, saying the reason there are so few black police officers in the city is because he "couldn't get it done." "And when talking about other issues like free college and health care, he managed to offer bold ideas but emphasize realism," Blake writes.
  • Strong showing from Sanders. The Vermont senator, who is second in most polls, stuck to his message—and had fewer attacks to deal with than Biden. He "dominated the first half hour by defending his plans for free healthcare for all, and denouncing Mr Trump as "a pathological liar and a racist," according to the BBC.
  • Women make history. This was the second time in history that there was more than one woman on a presidential debate stage—Wednesday night was the first—and "they did not hesitate to venture into the raucous crosstalk," the AP reports. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spoke passionately in defense of reproductive rights, and Harris said: "I will ensure that this microphone that the president of the United States holds in her hand is used in a way that is about reflecting the values of our country and not about locking children up, separating them from their parents."
  • The rest of the pack. Swalwell, Sen. Michael Bennet, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and self-help author Marianne Williamson largely failed to get the breakout moments they may have been hoping for. Yang had the least speaking time of any candidate, with just under three minutes, reports the New York Times. Williamson was, however, the most-searched for candidate on Google during the debate after lines like "I'm going to harness love for political purposes" went viral, Politico reports.
(More Democratic debate stories.)

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