Bernie Battles with the Crowd
Sen. Bernie Sanders faced criticism from the crowd multiple times, as is evidenced by their boos. He was first booed when he claimed Bloomberg’s only support comes from billionaires, which justifiably upset some of Bloomberg’s local supporters. His defense of Castro’s history and literacy programs led the crowd to boo him yet again. Sanders claimed that Former President Obama shared the same belief about Castro, but Biden called Sanders out for lying, saying that Obama told Biden himself he never agreed with what Sanders said. Biden went on to say Sanders never condemned these authoritarian governments, whether they be Cuba or Nicaragua.
Warren Attacks Bloomberg on History of Sexual Harassment
Warren challenged Bloomberg about a recent Washington Post story alleging that Bloomberg told a female employee to “kill it” in reference to her pregnancy. Bloomberg immediately denied this claim. This led to a discussion about Bloomberg’s taxes and numerous NDAs. Bloomberg concluded this conversation on a controversial note, saying he has done everything the Senator has asked, but that nothing will make her happy
Pete’s Constant Interruptions
Multiple times throughout the debate, Mayor Pete interrupted other candidates to give his take on the topic being discussed. For instance, when Bloomberg was disputing claims about his workplace history of sexual harassment, Mayor Pete Buttigeg interjected over Warren to say we cannot be deliberating about this after Super Tuesday and more elections and we need the truth now.
However, at certain points, some could justify Pete’s eagerness to speak. Bernie Sanders was asked to “do the math” about his $50 trillion plan to increase government spending, half of which is unaccounted for. Bernie began his answer by using common buzzwords, such as “billionaires” and “corporations,”causing Buttigeg to criticize Sanders for avoiding the question. This led to a screaming match between Sanders and Buttigieg, which the moderators allowed to go on for until Sanders was done talking. Which led to Sanders just yelling into the microphone over Buttigeg and refusing to ackonowlege him.
Steyer Heats Up
Biden’s alleged that Tom Steyer bought and funded a privatized prison that he knew mistreated inmates. Upon hearing this claim, Steyer got visibly upset, telling Biden that he knows it is unsubstantiated. Steyer then took it as an opportunity to elaborate on his background in social justice. This includes removing privatized prisons from his home state, opening a bank focused on giving loans to marginalized communities, and focusing his wealth on climate change. This was one of the first times Steyer has gotten aggressive on the debate stage and is most likely because in polls Steyer holds double digits in South Carolina.
Lack of Substantive Topics
In the two-hour window, the candidates were able to touch on education, economy, gun control, the Israel-Palestine conflict, Bloomberg’s “War on Obesity’’, legal marijuanna, China, Russian election interference, coronavirus, , and electability. However, each topic was used as a backdrop for every candidate to target Sanders and Bloomberg.
Although the debate was co-hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus, the issue of race was overwhelmingly lacking. The only time race was even mentioned was in reference to stop-and-frisk and Biden’s false jab at Steyer’s past connection to privatized prisons. Although the list of other topics brought up in the debate seems exhaustive, the candidates were not given much time to discuss their opinions on each topic presented. In fact, some candidates did not even get an opportunity to speak before the topic was changed.
A Questionable Last Question
The CBS News moderators allowed candidates no closing statement and instead gave every candidate 45 seconds to tell the American public about the biggest misconception about them and their motto. Many hailed this closing question as extremely unimportant this close to Super Tuesday and a waste of time that could’ve been better spent on a variety of other questions. Many on twitter showed their disapproval for CBS News’ moderation and giving candidates unequal time to respond.
Everyone overall agrees that the debate was a bit messy, with many moments of candidates speaking over each other, and some of that blame has fallen on the moderators at CBS News for not refocusing the debate. .
Most cable news stations consider Bernie the winner of the debate, as he has maintained his position as the front runner. However, many saw this as a critical night for Biden and Buttigeg. Buttigeg showed his ability to stay on the attack and put pressure on the other candidates.
Some on twitter, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have criticized the moderators for not having questions about climate change, even though they tackled that topic a week ago.
According to Project FiveThirtyEight post debate polls, the winners were mainly Sanders and Buttigeg, who gained 1.4% and 1.7% respectively.