A breakdown of the first Democratic debate
Time for another round of catch-up with the presidential race to date. On October 13, the first Democratic debate was held in Las Vegas, Nev. Participants in the debate were former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.
Each candidate was given an introduction and a chance to offer opening statements.
At this point, I will clarify that the debate will be outlined, for the reader's sake, on a participant-by-participant basis, and not a time basis.
Not a favorite by many, Chafee did not contribute much to the debate. The highlights of his participation were rarely positive. He took shots at the legitimacy of Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy due to her email scandal (which Sanders shut down shortly after and Clinton deemed unworthy for response). And, some issues involving his credibility due to past votes in senate were highlighted.
Chafee was originally a Republican senator, transitioned into independent governor and now sits as a Democrat candidate. Many claim this makes his start seem weak, but are hopeful he will redeem himself in the end.
O’Malley shone in comparison to the other minor candidates, Chafee and Webb. His opening statement covered his positive track-record as Baltimore’s former mayor and his accomplishments during that time. His first question was a dispute to his opening statement in regards to current events in Baltimore. In response to his potential responsibility for the Baltimore riots, the former mayor said, “Look, none of this is easy. None of us have all the answers…It was about bringing people together.”
One of his shining moments came during an exchange with Sanders, a favorite of many, about gun laws. The two went back-and-forth about the issues between urban and rural gun policies and ended with Sanders mentioning that O’Malley had never visited congress, to which O’Malley responded, “Well, maybe that’s a healthy thing,” as laughter followed.
Of the three secondary candidates, O’Malley stood out by far as a solid candidate who knew his policies and was well-educated on the issues brought up.
Following the tradition of tough first questions, Clinton was asked about her tendency to “say anything to get elected.” Clinton was pressed on issues such as Benghazi, the Clinton legacy, her emails and some foreign policy inconsistencies.
A poignant moment involving multiple candidates was when former Governor Chafee pressed Hillary about her credibility, and the credibility of American leaders due to her emails, to which Clinton declined to respond. Participants seemed to come to the consensus that the emails were not what the debate should center around and effectively moved on.
One of the anti-Sanders sympathizers’ main concerns is his radical economic policies that rest just short of socialism. Sanders continued to support his stance on taxing the rich and taking big money out of Wall Street in order to distribute it among the middle class. Sanders also refused to directly attack any of his competitors, following his typical code of ethics.
A highlight of the evening was Sanders coming to Clinton’s rescue regarding her email scandal. “People are sick and tired of hearing about your d*** emails,” he said, which drew out much laughter and applause.
He continued the conversation by saying, “enough of these emails, let’s talk about real issues facing America,” a comment which received a partial standing ovation.
Sanders’ position as winner has been up in the air since the last debate with claims that CNN deleted a poll showing that Sanders had won. Regardless, his delivery and participation in this debate was widely well-accepted and his numbers increased.
The feeling Webb left with many viewers after the debate was almost petulant. Similarly to Chafee, debate-watchers were left with little good to remember between demanding more airtime and a strange remark about an enemy soldier from Vietnam. Webb was vocal about his war-time experience as a soldier and respectful when speaking about Sanders’ choice to be a conscientious objector.
Finalizing the debate, Clinton came across as the clear winner. Clinton was grilled left and right by tough questions yet maintained her composure and answered questions tactfully.
UPDATE: Webb and Chafee withdrew, and Webb felt the debate was rigged to give Sanders and Clinton more airtime than other candidates.
Setheesh is a sophomore mathematics and religious education major.