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Key Takeaways From the Democratic Debate

Elizabeth Warren was in the line of fire
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2019 1:37 AM CDT
Updated Oct 16, 2019 6:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – Elizabeth Warren is leading in some polls—and the rest of the dozen Democrats onstage at Tuesday night's debate certainly treated her like a frontrunner. She was attacked far more than any other candidate, especially over her Medicare for All plan. "The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done," Amy Klobuchar told her. Several rivals criticized Warren for refusing to acknowledge that the plan would raise some taxes. "According to NBC's "attack tracker," Warren came under fire 16 times during the debate, and no other candidate was attacked more than twice. More:

  • Warren still on top. Despite the attacks, and some faltering responses, most analysts put Warren in the winners' column, especially since all the attention firmed up her status as the frontrunner. She "held her own" and spoke more than twice as much as the next candidate, Bernie Sanders, in the first hour, Politico notes.

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  • Not Biden's best night. Biden was sidelined for large parts of the debate. "His response to the predictable question about his son Hunter Biden's Ukrainian lobbying work was unemotional, when righteous indignation would have been appropriate," writes Anthony Zurcher at the BBC.
  • Bernie is back. A spirited performance from Sanders did much to counter concerns about the senator's health. "In his first debate after suffering a heart attack, he seemed more lively than he has been at any previous one," writes Aaron Blake at the Washington Post.
  • Unity on impeachment. The debate's first question dealt with impeachment and all 12 candidates agreed that President Trump should be impeached, the AP reports. Sanders called Trump "the most corrupt president in the history of the country."

  • Big moment for Buttigieg. For Niall Stanage at the Hill, the South Bend mayor was the "single standout performer" at the debate. "He took the fight to Warren, was prominent in the key early stages of the debate and made his case more broadly as a candidate able to connect with voters beyond the liberal base," Stanage writes.
  • No game-changers. Low-polling candidates including Beto O'Rourke, Klobuchar, and Julian Castro did not have any game-changing moments and are unlikely to appear at the November debate, according to Shane Goldmacher at the New York Times. With Cory Booker and Kamala Harris largely remaining out of the fray, it seemed at times that "the stage had narrowed to a four-person debate," with Sanders and Warren representing the left and Biden and Buttigieg representing the center-left, Goldmacher writes.
(Read more Democratic debate stories.)

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