Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Recap: First Democratic Primary Debate


Hillary Clinton delivered a strong performance in last night’s first Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, giving a much-needed win to a campaign that had stalled in recent months. The former Secretary of State faced off against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee in a policy-focused contest that contrasted heavily with the policy-light, attack-laden matchups common with their Republican counterparts.

The candidates narrowed their focus on the Latino community late into the evening, with Clinton and O’Malley they would provide greater relief from deportations if elected, while Sanders defended his positon over a 2007 comprehensive immigration reform measure in the Senate that he voted against, saying that the bill did not protect against exploitation and that if undocumented immigrants “stand up for their rights, they’re thrown out of the country.” With the exception of Webb, all of the candidates were clearly in agreement that the country was in need of comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship.

The candidates remained cordial throughout the evening, with Sanders going so far as declaring the country is “sick and tired of hearing about [Hillary’s] damn emails,” drawing an enormous applause from the crowd. Clinton was able to position herself to the left of her opponents on a number of issues, positioning herself well with Democratic primary voters looking for a candidate willing to stand up for the Party’s liberal wing.

“The wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much,” Clinton said when asked about taxes. “I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive who gets things done. I know how to find common ground, but I know how to stand my ground.”

With a polished and prepared performance, Clinton took aim at Sanders, saying her proposals for Wall Street financial reform and gun control were tougher and, frankly, more liberal than his. But if the lesser known candidates sought a role in declaring their unlikely candidacy for President, Clinton’s diplomacy, liberal leanings and overall strong performance may be indicative that the candidates not named Clinton had done perhaps their job, for now.

“Sanders has the momentum in key states right now, and he’s getting a free ride from the media and voters, and she can’t let that continue forever,” said Stuart Stevens, a Republican strategist who advised Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential race. “This debate is the first step toward Hillary stopping Bernie.”

Of note: Vice President Joe Biden was radio silent throughout the debate.

[New York Times]; [FOX News Latino]