After watching the first Democratic debate of 2019 in Miami, Elizabeth Warren was the clear victor. She was precise, had character and strength and knew exactly what she was talking about. She will not be a pushover to anybody in this race.
The breakout candidate was Julian Castro.
I've seen Secretary Castro many times on cable news and thought he was kind of too laid back in his interviews, but tonight he came with conviction and a presence I'd not seen before. He's definitely going to be in the final tier of candidates.
I was surprised Beto O'Rourke didn't do as well tonight after having to debate with the oafish Ted Cruz. Castro clearly targeted O'Rourke and caught him by surprise.
Tim Ryan came off like a Republican after claiming the Democratic Party has lost the working class and is a bi-coastal elitist party. Hannity couldn't have said it any better. In fact, he may as well have been quoting Hannity.
With the state of the GOP of the last decade and the extremist Trump administration, bipartisanship is a milquetoast issue to run on and useless in today's political system. John Delaney's presence felt otherworldly. I joked that I thought Delaney was a Russian bot or hoping to become a health care insurance lobbyist. He shouldn't have been on that stage.
Rachel Maddow did a great job moderating, but Chuck Todd chose right-wing memes to frame his questions on gun control and then myopically focused on Mitch McConnell as if he was the leader of the free world.
The idea is to beat Donald Trump and then deal with whoever is the Majority leader after that, including McConnell. As much as he would obstruct, all hell would break loose if he blocked a Supreme Court nominee from being considered if the Dems win back the Oval Office.
I'm no fan of this debate structure but it is what it is. It might have helped if each candidate had 60 seconds to give an opening statement before they dived into the questions.
Winners: Warren and Castro.
Losers: Ryan, Delaney, O'Rourke
Not-too-shabby performance by candidate with no chance: Gabbard
Not bad but not great: Booker, Inslee and Klobuchar
Rudest: Bill DeBlasio