Thursday night was widely considered the heavy-hitters’ night, with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren dominating the first night’s candidates in terms of name recognition. The second round sported numerous senators, including Kamala Harris (California), Bernie Sanders (Vermont), Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) and Michael Bennet (Colorado), as well as former Vice President Joe Biden. However, there were some newcomers to the political arena as well, including Southbend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, self-help author Marianne Williamson and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, as well as two more seasoned politicians - former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and California Rep. Eric Swalwell.
Sputnik News correspondent Bob Schlehuber spoke with Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary Friday from Miami, outside the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts where the debate occurred. As with the first night, the streets of Miami were covered with protesters and politicos seeking to support their candidate, forward their particular issue of choice or simply get an idea of who all those people on the stage are and what visions they have for America come 2020.
Schlehuber found a wide array of opinions on the streets of Miami about who did best in the second debate, but most agreed that Biden lost.
“I haven’t picked a candidate, but there’s no way,” one attendee told Schlehuber, when asked if she’d vote for Trump instead of one of the Democratic candidates. “I mean, I held my nose to vote Hillary Clinton.”
“What’s most important is getting Trump out of office, so to be just nitpicking between so many candidates is just counterproductive at this point,” another woman said.
“The fact is that in our race for governor, we got closer than any Democrat had in 24 years, coming within 33,000 votes. So if flipping the state, in spite of their [Republicans’] 24-year control where they’ve been able to basically set the rules and, I think, in many ways, bias the rulebook in their favor,” former Democratic candidate for governor of Florida Andrew Gillum told Schlehuber.
Former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham said the key to a Democratic victory was voter registration. “There are hundreds of thousands of unregistered Democrats in Florida, and if they were registered, the state would be clearly blue,” the color used to designate Democratic-majority districts on US election maps.
However, Schlehuber noted that the Trump team had already recognized the huge electoral potential of the state’s large Hispanic population, much of which votes conservatively. A pro-Biden activist told him the Trump team had started a “Latinos for Trump” group to spearhead their effort.
Schlehuber noted that many of the front-runners gained “significant speed” in the first debate.
“It seemed like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris were the big winners of the two nights. The two senators will seemingly gain some traction on the front-runners, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.”
“How much will Joe Biden be hurt by his poor debate performance last night? Obviously Kamala Harris [was] getting a few body blows on the former vice president. Joe Biden [was] really kinda struggling, I think, to really point at what his role with the Barack Obama administration was. He seemed rather hesitant to take too much credit, and often pushing things off on Barack Obama and defending him as opposed to maybe both of them. I don’t think the vice president has that big of a say within an administration as it is, so it might be hard for him to take credit for too much.”
“Bernie Sanders was Bernie Sanders,” Schlehuber told hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon. “He obviously didn’t stand out as much as he did three-and-a-half years ago when the last election cycle was running, as the rest of the candidates have kind of embraced his message in many ways.”
“I think a lot of candidates will not gain any traction whatsoever and didn’t do themselves any help in Miami over the two nights,” he said. “Tim Ryan, obviously with his major gaffe there, as well as last night Michael Bennet didn’t do much for those that I talked to, or Eric Swalwell. Eric Swalwell had the good line about passing the torch from Biden but wasn’t able to land very many other good lines for the night.”
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.