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The second night of the second round of Democratic primary debates was a livelier affair than Tuesday’s offering. The Wednesday Ten were Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Mayor Julián Castro, Rep. Michael Bennet, Gov. Jay Inslee, and Mayor Bill De Blasio.
The breakout last night was author Marianne Williamson, who was the most Googled figure in 49 states. How about for Round Two? It was a 50-state sweep:
The Hawaii congressmember earned it. Her most striking moment was calling out Kamala Harris for her prosecutorial excess in California:
Harris made big gains in the first debate, so her opponents were ready to humble her. The former California AG seemed unprepared for the new attention and, by the halfway point, she played nothing but defense. Harris had the most to lose and she lost it.
Most improved was Biden, who corrected his tired, befuddled performance earlier in the month. He meticulously prepared for the second round, dismissing incoming attacks with sharp oppo research on his accusers. He still has lost a step from his glory days, but he seemed a decade younger than he did at the first debate.
Since Biden entered as the frontrunner and the other candidates spent plenty of time attacking each other, he won this debate.
Castro gained a bit of momentum in the first debate but did little to capitalize on it Wednesday. Booker was all over the place, criticizing the infighting (it’s a debate, Cory) before attacking Biden and others. His most memorable moments were introducing something called “marijuana justice” and dropping the S-bomb on live TV.
Gillibrand seemed to check out of the debate midway, utterly confused when the moderators asked her a question. Perhaps she suspended her campaign during the first ad break. It was easy to forget she was even on stage and she can’t be long for the 2020 race.
Andrew Yang has received a lot of attention from independents and was excellent throughout. He’s certainly the most earnest person on the stage, whipping out statistics and detailed policy plans on every subject. He also delved into Williamson territory by exposing the falseness of political showbiz:
We’re up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles in this reality TV show. It’s one reason why we elected a reality TV star as our president. We need to be laser-focused on solving the real challenges of today.
Gov. Jay Inslee did well for himself, hewing to his all-climate, all-the-time message, while De Blasio again proved himself to be one of the most unappealing politicians in America. Rep. Michael Bennet remained a non-factor, as expected.
If CNN wants to keep hosting debates, or at least keep viewers watching, they need to greatly improve their coverage. There were microphone issues throughout, with feedback, clicking and unsteady audio quality. Not to mention the several interruptions by hecklers.