After two very fiery Republican debates, it was time for the Democratic presidential hopefuls to take the stage. Participating in the debate, hosted by CNN and moderated by Anderson Cooper, were frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders who is currently in second place in the polls, and outside contenders Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee. Notably absent was Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to decide whether he is going to make the run for president.
Clinton appeared to be the victor of the night, while Sanders did an impressive job as well. The remaining three did not have much impact on the debate at all.
Clinton, whose campaign poll numbers have been in a steady decline - largely due in part to her well-known email scandal - was poised, confident and well spoken. She needed to deliver a good performance given her troubles so far. Once again, Clinton is the leading candidate who has a real chance of being upstaged by an upstart outsider - much like Obama did to her in 2008.
Nonetheless, she tried to convince the masses why she should be president. Referencing her loss to Obama in 2008, she stated that, “The issue is not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”
Clinton faced criticism regarding her recent flip-flops on her positions with respect to the Trans Pacific Trade deal, gay marriage and the Keystone XL Pipeline. In response, she said that, “I have been very consistent. Over the course of my entire life, I have always fought for the same values and principles, but, like most human beings, including those of us who run for office, I do absorb new information. I do look at what’s happening in the world.”
Of course, her email scandal came up during the debate and surprisingly, she received some unexpected support from Sanders. He adamantly stated that, “Let me say something that may not be great politics, but the secretary is right - and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about the damn emails. Enough of the emails, let’s talk about the real issues facing the United States of America.” Following which, the two shook hands.
The issue of gun control was a hot topic, with Clinton stating that, “This has gone on too long and it is time the entire country stand up against the NRA.” Sanders fired back saying that, “all the shouting in the world is not going to do what I hope all of us want,” which is tighter restrictions on gun control.
The Syrian war also was debated, with Clinton proffering that the U.S. needs to stand up to Putin’s bullying and must “take more of a leadership position” in dealing with the bloody civil war. Sanders called the war “a quagmire within a quagmire” and claimed that it was a direct result of the Iraq war - which Clinton voted to authorize in 2002. Her vote was a major issue in the 2008 campaign and did not serve her well.
Of course, Trump was not left out of the debate entirely. He was mentioned in passing and live-Tweeted during the coverage. He described the Democrats as “all very scripted and very rehearsed” and argued that at least two of the candidates did not even belong on the stage.