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Top Takeaways From the Democratic Debate

Sanders, Warren had 'ceasefire'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2019 2:18 AM CDT
Updated Jul 31, 2019 6:49 AM CDT
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Montana Gov. Steve Bullock participates in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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(Newser) – Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were the two highest-polling candidates in Tuesday night's Democratic debate, the first of two 10-candidate debates in Detroit—but it was a letdown for anybody expecting a clash between the two progressives. Since they are competing for similar voters, "everyone was girding for them to actually, you know, debate each other," writes Aaron Blake at the Washington Post. Instead, they "largely agreed to a cease-fire" and even tried to defend each other against moderates who attacked their positions on issues like health care as too radical. More:

  • Buttigieg, O'Rourke "lost in the middle." Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg have enough resources to stay in the race for a long time to come, but the former sensations looked a lot like has-beens Tuesday night to David Siders and Christopher Cadelago at Politico, who describe the debate as a "boring mess." With the debate seen as a battle of progressives versus moderates, they write, O'Rourke and Buttigieg "fell somewhere in the middle, which makes it difficult to sustain air."

  • Big night for Bernie. The "feisty" senator from Vermont tops the list of winners at CNN. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who repeatedly clashed with Sanders and Warren, also makes the list, simply for reminding people that he exists. Losers include the "rehearsed and wooden" O'Rourke and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who failed to get anywhere near a breakout moment.
  • Breakout moment for Bullock? Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who didn't qualify for the previous round of debates, had a good night and could "make waves in the race as a centrist who has won elections in a deep-red state," write Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley at the Hill. Bullock put himself across as a moderate who believes in Obama-era health care and immigration policies. "It used to be Republicans who wanted to repeal and replace, now it’s Democrats," he said of "Medicare for All" plans that would replace ObamaCare.
  • A taste of things to come. While the moderates who targeted Sanders and Warren, including Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, may not qualify for future debates, Tuesday night was a preview of the rifts likely to appear in debates where Joe Biden debates the progressive senators, the New York Times reports. "We’ve talked about taking private health insurance away from union members in the industrial Midwest, we’ve talked about decriminalizing the border, and we’ve talked about giving free health care to undocumented workers when so many Americans are struggling to pay for their health care,” Ryan said. "I quite frankly don’t think that that is an agenda that we can move forward on and win."
  • Williamson wins the Internet. Self-help author Marianne Williamson surged in Internet searches with her unconventional responses, which included references to "emotional turbulence" and President Trump's "dark psychic force. "On some level, we all seem to know that Marianne Williamson shouldn't exactly be on the debate stage," write Katherine Miller at BuzzFeed. "Even she seems to know it, because she operates like she's performing a commentary on the rest of the stage, speaking from a different stage about the debate taking place."
Click for some of the debate's best lines.
(Read more Democratic debate stories.)

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