Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Live-blogging the biggest presidential debate ever

And I'm not exaggerating — CNN tells us this will be "the largest [debate] in modern history." I'm not sure I'll be able to take a whole 12 candidates on the stage at the same time, but I'll do any-live blogging in this post. Keep reloading for more updates.

[ADDED: You can watch the whole debate here, after it's aired. And here's the transcript.]

(I'll be writing down quotes on the fly, so they might not be perfect, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate.)

8:02 - Anderson Cooper points out that all the candidates support an impeachment inquiry, but asks why we shouldn't wait just one more year for the voters to decide whether Donald Trump should stay president. Elizabeth Warren responds: "Sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics.… Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences."

8:03 - Bernie Sanders says: "Trump is the most corrupt president in history."

8:05 - Joe Biden says the Trump administration is obstructing justice, and Congress has "no choice but to move."

8:06 - Kamala Harris quotes Maya Angelou: "Listen to somebody when they tell you who they are the first time." She also says impeaching Trump "won't take very long": "As a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it!"

8:09 - Amy Klobuchar: "I'm still waiting to find out from [Trump] how making that call to Ukraine … makes America great again. I'm waiting to hear how leaving the Kurds for slaughter … makes America great again."

8:11 - Pete Buttigieg: "A president 10 years, or 100 years from now will look back at this moment and conclude either that no one is above the law, or that the president can get away with anything."

8:12 - Tulsi Gabbard sounds the most skeptical of anyone about impeachment. She emphasizes that she supports an "impeachment inquiry" specifically into the Ukraine call, but complains about those who wanted to impeach Trump from day 1.

8:14 - Tom Steyer starts his first debate by saying: "Every candidate here is more decent and patriotic than the criminal in the White House."

8:15 - Andrew Yang dodges the impeachment question, and pivots to arguing that Ohio, the state they're in, voted for Trump by 8 percentage points because of manufacturing jobs disappearing.

8:18 - Biden is asked about the controversy swirling around his son Hunter. "I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having to do with Ukraine." Biden adds that Trump "doesn't want me to be the candidate … because he knows that I will beat him like a drum."

[VIDEO of some of the candidates on impeachment.]

8:20 - Moving on from impeachment, Elizabeth Warren is asked if she'll raise taxes on the middle class to pay for her health care plan. She doesn't quite answer the question; she says that "costs" will go up for "the wealthy" and big corporations, but "costs" will go down for the middle class. Of course, "costs" and "taxes" are very different things.

8:23 - Buttigieg calls out Warren's failure to answer that question: "Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything — except this!" Then Buttigieg pivots to arguing for "Medicare for all who want it." Warren comes back that Buttigieg's plan is really "Medicare for all who can afford it."

8:26 - Bernie Sanders on his bill: "Premiums are gone! Copayments are gone! Deductibles are gone! … We're gonna do better than the Canadians do, and that is what they've managed to do.… I do think it's appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up." But he argues that most people's taxes will go up less than their premiums will go down.

8:27 - Amy Klobuchar chimes in: "At least Bernie's being honest here and saying that taxes are going to go up. And I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but you are not saying that." [VIDEO.]

8:30 - Without mentioning Buttigieg, Biden suggests that Buttigieg's health care plan is really "the Biden plan."

8:31 - There's some visible tension between Sanders and Biden: Biden is talking while physically putting his finger on Sanders's arm, and Sanders keeps raising his hand to respond to Biden.

8:32 - Kamala Harris makes a strong statement that the health care discussions in all the debates have been failing to include women's access to abortion.

8:34 - Andrew Yang is asked, since he wants to give $1,000 a month to all Americans, whether he supports Bernie Sanders's "federal jobs guarantee." No, Yang says: "Most Americans do not want to work for the federal government." Yang imagines the Sanders plan will lead to "failed retraining programs and jobs that no one wants," while Yang's plan of simply handing out money would empower individuals to make the best choices for them. [VIDEO of that answer, in the middle of a clip of "everything Yang said" at the debate.]

8:40 - Elizabeth Warren reaches out to Andrew Yang supporters by saying her plan to expand Social Security is similar to his $1,000 a month plan, and would help Yang's wife, who Yang mentioned earlier is taking care of their two sons full time.

8:41 - Tulsi Gabbard: "I agree with my friend Andrew Yang. I think universal basic income is a good idea."

8:43 - Cory Booker claims that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would give workers more money than giving everyone $1,000 a month.

8:45 - Bernie Sanders is asked about his statement that "billionaires should not exist." Does he want to "tax billionaires out of existence?" Sanders says: "We cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war with the working class for 45 years."

8:48 - A moderator points out that Steyer is the only billionaire on the stage. But Steyer says Bernie Sanders is right: "There have been 40 years when corporations have bought this government, and those 40 years have meant an attack on working people.… It's absolutely wrong."

8:50 - Biden goes meta: "These debates are kind of crazy, because everybody tries to squeeze everything into every answer!"

8:52 - Elizabeth Warren goes very negative about everyone else except Bernie Sanders, saying the rest of them won't support a wealth tax but want to protect billionaires. This gets a lot of pushback: Biden and Klobuchar both say none of them want to protect billionaires; Klobuchar adds that she's open to a wealth tax; and Buttigieg says: "I'm all for a wealth tax!"

8:57 - Yang says Warren's principles are right, and a wealth tax sounds good in theory — but numerous countries that have tried it (including Germany, France, and Sweden) have repealed it because it didn't work.

8:58 - Beto O'Rourke goes after Elizabeth Warren: "Sometimes I think that Senator Warren is more interested in being punitive and putting different parts of the country against each other than in coming up with solutions." (Not sure if I got the end of that quote right — I should go back later.) Warren responds: "I'm really shocked at the notion that anyone thinks I'm punitive!"

9:02 - Cory Booker worries about "how we talk about each other in this debate." He suggests that "tearing each other down because we have a different plan" will prevent them from making Trump a one-term president.

9:11 - Tulsi Gabbard is asked about Trump's movement of troops in Syria in a way that allowed Turkey to invade. "Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hands — but so do many politicians from both parties, who supported this regime-change war which started in 2011."

9:13 - Buttigieg says Gabbard is "dead wrong": "The slaughter in Syria is not a consequence of American presence." Buttigieg gets impassioned as he talks about being deployed to Afghanistan and knowing that the American flag on his uniform was keeping him safe because our friends and allies knew we kept our word, which Trump has undermined. "You might as well take away their body armor next."

9:20 - Kamala Harris says there are 4 winners from Trump's Syria policy: "Russia, Assad, Iran, and ISIS."

9:21 - Castro might have the line of the night: "Think about how absurd it is that Donald Trump is caging kids on the border, and effectively letting ISIS go free."

9:24 - Another touchy-feely moment between Biden and Sanders: Biden says Trump is saying comforting words to Vladimir Putin while pointing directly at Sanders, who says: "Are you saying I'm Putin?" Biden says, "No!" — and they hug each other.

9:31 - Anderson Cooper asks Beto how he'd enforce his promise from the last debate that he'll confiscate Americans' AR-15s and AK-47s, given that he's admitted the government isn't going to be "going door to door" looking for these guns. So … what's Beto's response? He'd ban guns and … hope everyone follows the law? Is that supposed to be based on the honor system or what? Buttigieg points out that Beto just admitted he doesn't know how his promise can be put into action. This leads to an extended, heated back and forth between Buttigieg and Beto. Buttigieg stares at Beto and tells him: "I don't need lessons from you on courage — political or personal." [VIDEO.]

9:38 - Klobuchar is asked why she supports a "voluntary buyback" instead of a "mandatory buyback." She brushes aside that question and speaks to the broader issue of guns: "The American people are with us.… Let's not mess this up!"

9:41 - Kamala Harris reruns a line she already used in an earlier debate: "I have looked at more autopsy photos than I care to tell you."

9:42 - Biden says he's the only person on the stage who's "taken on the NRA and won." This should be a good moment for him in the debate, but he goes on to mangle his words so much it's hard to listen to him.

9:44 - Castro argues that we shouldn't have a mandatory buyback because it would mean "police officers going door to door" and using violence against people in their own homes.

9:45 - Klobuchar quotes an email by a pharma company executive on opioids: "Keep pumping them out — they're eating them like Doritos!"

9:51 - Kamala Harris would criminally prosecute pharma executives who've sold opioids: "They are nothing more than some high-level dope dealers!"

9:55 - Moderator Erin Burnett asks Biden about the fact that he'll turn 80 in his first term if he's elected. "One of the reasons I'm running is because of my age and experience. With it comes wisdom.… I know what has to be done. I've done it before.… I will not need any on-the-job training."

9:57 - Similarly, Burnett points out that Elizabeth Warren would be the oldest president ever to take office. "I will out-work, out-organize, and outlast anyone — and that includes Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or whoever the Republicans get stuck with!" [VIDEO.]

9:59 - 38-year-old Tulsi Gabbard is asked about how she'd be the youngest president ever. She talks about her military experience and that she's on various foreign-policy-related House committees. Then she pivots to asking Elizabeth Warren about "her experience to serve as Commander-in-Chief," but the moderator cuts to a commercial. (My understanding is that candidates aren't usually allowed to ask each other direct questions in the debates.)

10:06 - Yang suggests that there are good reasons why certain tech companies are so dominant: "There's a reason no one's using Bing today. Sorry, Microsoft, it's true!"

10:09 - Beto says he'd treat social-media companies as "publishers" — but he won't call out a particular company to be broken up, as Trump has done.

10:13 - Kamala Harris calls for Twitter to ban Trump's account, and calls on Elizabeth Warren to join her on this. Warren: "No!" [VIDEO.]

10:18 - Yang says we should be getting money back for the data we give to companies like Facebook.

10:23 - Tulsi Gabbard sounds relatively conservative on abortion, endorsing the Clinton-era line that it should be "safe, legal, and rare," and saying it should be illegal in the third trimester "unless the life or severe health consequences of the woman are at risk."

10:25 - Pete Buttigieg suggests various reforms to "depoliticize" the Supreme Court, including term limits, or adding judges who can be added only by the unanimous agreement of the existing 9.

10:30 - Biden makes a shocking statement: "I'm the only person on this stage who's gotten anything really big done!" Then he botches one of his examples when he starts to say, "I ended Roe…"

10:31 - The 3 top-polling candidates use up a lot of time talking amongst each other, maybe as a tactic to prevent lesser candidates from getting too much time. Biden decides that now is the time to go back to his disagreements with Sanders on health care (I thought that was hours ago!), and then Sanders brings up Biden's position on the Iraq War. Biden repeatedly jabs his hand at Warren and shouts at her: "I got you votes!" [VIDEO.]

10:35 - Buttigieg quips that if he had a dollar for every "argument like this" he's heard, he could pay for college for everyone. I guess he's referring to the bickering among the top 3 candidates, but I don't know if he's the best person to be calling out other candidates for fighting too much, after his tiffs with Warren, and Gabbard, and Beto…

10:45 - As the last question, Anderson Cooper asks every candidate to tell us about a friendship they had with someone surprisingly different from themselves. (This was prompted by Ellen DeGeneres defending her friendship with George W. Bush.) Amy Klobuchar says "it's John McCain, and I miss him every day." She remembers seeing McCain near the end of his life, when he could hardly speak, pointing to a written sentence: "There is nothing more liberating in life than fighting for a cause larger than yourself." What Klobuchar learned from this: "We need to not just change our policy, but change the way we talk to each other."

11:05 - Biden gives the last answer of the night, and he's the 3rd person to name John McCain as a friend he had strong differences with. Biden says he told McCain: "You never saw a war you didn't want to fight." McCain came back: "You never saw a problem you didn't want to solve."

Thoughts:

• Was this the first debate where Biden didn't make some huge blunder? He still has trouble getting through an answer, but he's stopped cutting himself off mid-sentence or seeming to dismiss what he just said.

• Elizabeth Warren seemed weaker than in past debates; she was constantly under fire.

• Pete Buttigieg was getting into fights with everyone.

• I'm not a big fan of Kamala Harris, but I'd say it was her best debate. Amy Klobuchar was also strong.

• Bernie Sanders accomplished his main goal: convince us that he hasn't lost any energy after his heart attack.

• Andrew Yang often seemed to be in his own world focused on tech issues, and not interested in talking about the major topics like impeachment. But he was good at calling out some of the more questionable policies: Warren's wealth tax and Sanders's federal jobs guarantee.

• Tulsi Gabbard very much seemed to stand apart from the others, most obviously when she emphasized her support for some abortion restrictions.


• I'm not sure what Beto is still doing in this race; I usually tuned him out. Castro got very little time and largely seemed irrelevant, except for his one great line (see 9:21).

• Cory Booker mentioned being vegan almost as much as he usually mentions living in a lower-income neighborhood. Those are great things to talk about, but I think he'll need something more to give new life to his campaign.


UPDATE: CNN gave Elizabeth Warren far more time than any other candidate last night. Even with a dozen candidates on the stage, she spoke for about 23 minutes. If every candidate got that much, the debate could have lasted around 5 hours instead of 3 (with moderators taking some time to ask questions).

Tulsi Gabbard and Julián Castro each got about 8 and a half minutes. Those 2 candidates combined got about 6 minutes less than Warren. If CNN had limited everyone’s time so strictly, the debate could have taken more like 2 hours instead of 3.

UPDATE: After watching the debate, Daniel Henninger writes in the Wall Street Journal that "Joe Biden Isn't Going to Make It":

With Mr. Trump’s decision to pull American troops away from the Syrian Kurds, he opened one of the most significant political vulnerabilities of his presidency. It was an opportunity for Mr. Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to show some foreign-policy smarts and president-like leadership. Instead we got this:

“What I would do is I would be making it real clear to Assad that, in fact, where he’s going to have a problem—because Turkey is the real problem here. And I would be having a real lockdown conversation with Erdogan and letting him know that he’s going to pay a heavy price for what he has done now. Pay that price.”

It fell to Pete Buttigieg, the mayor from South Bend, to produce the night’s most stinging critique of President Trump: “What we were doing in Syria was keeping our word. Part of what makes it possible for the United States to get people to put their lives on the line to back us up is the idea that we will back them up, too.”

That was good. Joe Biden somehow couldn’t figure out how to say anything like it.

Then during the health-care segment, Mr. Biden said, “The plan we’re hearing discussed is the Biden plan.” Then he said, “The plan is going to cost at least $30 trillion over 10 years,” with no indication that now he was talking about Elizabeth Warren’s plan, not his.

Here’s a single Biden sentence from the debate: “I would eliminate the capital gains tax—I would raise the capital gains tax to the highest rate, of 39.5%.” …

Mr. Biden’s supporters say he did fine, but fine isn’t going to be good enough. With apologies, a sports metaphor is apt. Joe Biden looks like a pro in training camp—running at half speed, joshing with teammates, showing brief flashes of former skills. Democrats who think Mr. Biden will get better than this training-camp competence are deluding themselves.

43 comments:

chickelit said...

I'm sensing that even Anderson Cooper is bored with all 12 candidates.

FullMoon said...


8:43 - Cory Booker claims that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would give workers more money than giving everyone $1,000 a month.

Local WalMart raised to $15.00
Now they have 14 self check outs and fewer employees.

FullMoon said...

Hate the wealthy, solve all your problems.

Bay Area Guy said...

These Dems are wacked out leftists. If they ever get power, they will wreck the country.

FullMoon said...

Whoa! Tulsi calls out MSM and politicians who support war. NYT and CNN in particular.

Jon Burack said...

Tulsi Gabbard is right. Buttigieg pulls out the sob tactics, but they are irrelevant to the policy issue, which is who got us into the messes over there with no real idea of what the long term strategy was or even could be, not who is trying to get us out.

rcocean said...

Beto is such an oddball - give him the hook. One day he's saying Churches shouldn't be tax exempt if they do blah blah. Or he's answering English Questions in Spanish. And now he's attacking Warren on her spending and taxes. As opposed to what? His "Free Everything" plan? Get him of him, boring Klobar, Goofy Yang, two-bit Castro and crazy eyes Booker. Start having debates with the Top 5 real candidates. Biden, Warren, Bernie, Buttigig, and Harris.

LA_Bob said...

Of course Gabbard is right. And so is Trump. The sobbers overlook (or ignore for political gain) that we will abandon the Kurds, Iraquis, Saudis, Afghans, and everyone else eventually anyway. So why not get it over with and at least prevent some unnecessary American deaths.

People forget we abandoned South Vietnam wholesale in 1975. Oh, but those little gooks didn't count, I suppose. Not compared to the Kurds anyway.

Of course it's horrible. But at some point we draw the line regardless. Better sooner than later.

rcocean said...

Finally, some Bernie! Great talker, but if you have to discuss your recent heart attack at age 77. and thank everyone for all the cards and letters, you ain't going to be President.

rcocean said...

Why are they asking Warren about her age? She looks 60.

Ken B said...

Yes, let’s jail people for manufacturing medically necessary pain killers that make life livable for those afflicted with certain kinds of pain.

I generally think these people are awful, and foolish. But Harris seems positively malignant.

rcocean said...

Someone should ask Biden if he'd be a One-term president - given his age.

rcocean said...

Yes, Trump is arresting and imprisoning people illegally invading the country and letting the RELATIVES of Isis fighters go free in Syria, because the Euros won't pay for their jail time or take them back into their countries.

But its BROWN BABIES AT THE BORDER! BABIES IN CAGES! Babies should roam free, like wild horses.

rcocean said...

Steyr is going to toe-to-toe with Trump and show everyone how 3.5 Unemployment and a booming stock market is a failure. And how Trump Billions show what a failure he is as a businessman. I'm sure Trump is quite concerned. Keep him out of anymore debates. What a waste of time.

rcocean said...

Beto just came out for unlimited Press power. And he's against monopolies IN GENERAL. But its not the President's job to say who should be broken up. So, I don't see much being done in his Presidency. Keep that Google/Facebook money flowing - Beto needs a new skateboard.

rcocean said...

Constant attacks on Warren. Are they running for BIden's VP?

rcocean said...

Warren's on a roll. But its incredible these clowns were/are Senators.

Ken B said...

“Someone should ask Biden if he'd be a One-term president”
Well, the answer would be no, if Hillary is his veep.

Narayanan said...

because he knows that I will beat him like a drum
_______
What does that mean?
I don't get it!
Band practice?

Ken B said...

Narayanan
It’s an idiom, a pun. Your drum is easy to beat.

Narayanan said...

Did Biden fully committed to Sanders: sniff hair (in lieu of !!??)

David Begley said...

Nice job on the quotes and live blogging.

Ken B said...

Oh god, can that last answer from Biden be more precious? And they say Trump is a bullshitter! Bwahaha!

FullMoon said...

JAC, your endurance appreciated. Thought you gave up towards the end.

Another fabulous debate, allowing the world to enjoy the best and brightest of American political class.

Narayanan said...

Just to be crotchety, curmudgeon:

Don't!? you have to take drums away first?!

Ken B said...

No, I can have my own drum and I find it easy to beat.
Don’t let Kamala Harris know you have a drum though, or she'll want to charge you.

Ken B said...

FullMoon
Yep. I read The Federalist and the Lincoln-Douglas and now I wonder why I bothered, when such plenty can be had broadcast straight into my living room.

Narayanan said...

Biden - Sanders bromance!

Are they item or 2020 t
Ticket?

walter said...

Time-stamp w/r/t comments would be helpful.

Yancey Ward said...

I watched the debate, and then read your on-the-go comments. I don't have much to add to what you wrote. I thought Harris' campaign ended tonight- so we differ there. I am more of the opinion of Ken B above- she was absolutely absolutely malignant tonight.

What struck me was the missed opportunity to take Biden out by everyone. Of course, Warren took the most heat as the front runner, but Biden is a pinata at a party where the all the blindfolds were stolen. There is literally no good reason to treat Biden with kid gloves here- all the Democrat voters know that what the Bidens did during his VP years is hight unethical if not outright illegal. If the Democrats end up with Biden as the nominee, they deserve to lose the election in a landslide for allowing another clearly corrupt grifter take the nomination. It is difficult to explain this reticence to go after Biden except maybe they all take part in such graft funneled through sons, daughters, and wives- a sort of mutual destruction deal.

John Althouse Cohen said...

It's my blog style to have no automatic time stamps, only date stamps. An automatic time stamp takes away a bit of privacy: it announces to the whole world what you were doing at that exact time.

walter said...

Ah..well..when comments are tied to a real-time event, let posters decide if an intrusion.

walter said...

(worst case scenario a comment here provides an alibi) ;)

JML said...

Thanks for posting and blogging. I’m in Italy so I did not stay up to watch, but in truth, I doubt that I’d have watched it if I was home. It all sounds like it was more of the same: the free stuff I’m going to give you is more valuable than the free stuff (insert gender neutral pronoun here) is going to give you and yes, impeach Trump eventually.

Crazy World said...

Seriously these elections are WAY too drawn out, what a freak show.
And I didn’t even watch.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Thanks. I checked it a few times last night and caught up this morning. I can't bear to watch it.

Ken B said...

Yancey
Re Harris. I hope she's done for, but she probably will get LeBron James's endorsement.

The most interesting comments I have seen are on leftie blogs: lots and lots of lefties who have been clamoring for President Warren for years are getting cold feet. An awful lot of “ I like her less” .

Begonia said...

My theory for why they circled the wagons around Biden: It's an issue of risk vs reward.

Reward for piling onto Biden and criticizing him: Biden isn't nominated.

Risk of piling onto Biden:
--Biden is nominated and now they have less chance of being selected for VP/cabinet
--Biden isn't nominated but you've alienated his huge donor base and base of support

If Biden isn't nominated, he'll be a formidable fundraiser and campaigner for whoever is nominated. That's why the dems have to be somewhat nice to each other. I think that it's risky to attack him for his son's behavior (as opposed to attacking him for his policies or age), because people might see that as going "too far".

Ken B said...

I think there are several reasons Biden got a pass
1 moral cowardice
2 Yancey is right of course, the expansive system of graft is sacrosanct
3 it would expose the impeachment pretense as a pretense

Ann Althouse said...

"Cory Booker mentioned being vegan almost as much as he usually mentions living in a lower-income neighborhood. Those are great things to talk about, but I think he'll need something more to give life to his campaign."

What if the something he needs to give more life is a juicy red steak?

John Althouse Cohen said...

Risk of piling onto Biden:
--Biden is nominated and now they have less chance of being selected for VP/cabinet


Yeah, but the male candidates don't have to worry much about whether Biden will pick them as a running mate. If Biden is the nominee, he's almost sure to pick a woman.

Gdaddy said...

JAC,didn't watch (too painful) but enjoyed your comments. Thanks!

It is unbelievable that they think they can be president with these ideas that are so far out of the mainstream? They have to win the primary but it's hard to believe even most Dems would go this far on some of these issues.

If the Democrats had one candidate that was willing to quit pandering to progressives (<5%-10 of population?) and be honest and show some common sense they could have a shot at beating DT.

Ken B said...

The Democrats handed Trump a couple of Vulcan Death-grip issues:
Housing biological males in women’s prisons. Who wants her sister raped? In Canada rapist is house in a women’s prison.
Tax payer funded sex change operations for convicted felons.

These are perhaps minor things in the grand scheme, but they are so egregious and eye-rolling that they scream “we despise you” to middle America. The only stupider things would be to tax churches and mosques that don’t perform gay marriage, or scream hell yeah we're taking your guns by force. But no party is stupid enough for that.