As I’ve written a few times in my running commentary, this was better than I expected. The debate was run well. Most of the candidates did well or better than I expected. It was refreshing and positive in a way I didn’t expect. Donald Trump came in for a decent amount of criticism. But given the centrality of a sitting President to the opposition party and a President this consistently bad, predatory and corrupt, he played a surprisingly small role in the proceedings. I was caught off guard by how refreshing that was.
The stand out to me was Cory Booker. Especially in the first hour he took possession of the stage. He had a really strong performance. He made me think about him seriously again as a nominee after I’d mainly written him off my list of real contenders. I think he’s the big story of the night – both on the merits and as someone who did well and needs to make a move into the top half-dozen candidates.
10:50 PM: Delaney seems like he’s from a different era and not a terribly relevant or good one. I think Ryan has zero percent chance in this race and he shouldn’t even be in this debate (like most of the people in this debate). But I think that was a decent conclusion, even though it didn’t seem like it at the beginning.
10:39 PM: This was a moment.
lol Castro's look pic.twitter.com/gc0ATKVWDz
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 27, 2019
10:35 PM: That was the first decent answer from O’Rourke.
10:33 PM: Sen. Klobuchar doesn’t seem to be able to credibly say “when I’m President” and sound like she might believe it.
10:18 PM: Warren started shaky. She’s hitting her stride in the second hour. Her senate answer at around 10:15 eastern was her best moment yet in the debate.
9:55 PM: I remain impressed by this debate even though my expectations were low. Cory Booker stands out to me as the candidate putting in the best performance and helping himself the most. De Blasio has also impressed. But I see no makings of a real campaign. Every candidate, with the possible exception of O’Rourke, has done decently. But I’m struck that Warren seems to have receded into the background. I don’t know whether this would be born out by the timer. But it seems like most of the candidates have spoken more than she has. Booker seems like the story.
9:50 PM: I wondered what on earth Booker was thinking when he was (I think) the only candidate who didn’t raise his hand on the Iran question. But his answer was pretty decent and he managed to take command of the debate stage.
9:44 PM: Castro is just eviscerating O’Rourke. I’m not speaking to the policy question. But he’s taking control of the debate and O’Rourke just seems unprepared.
9:36 PM: In that nature of things, I tend to watch these debates as I think they will play for a larger audience. In other words, I watch them from a kind of second remove. But my big takeaway from the debate so far is to give another look at Cory Booker. He hasn’t really registered in public support terms so far. But maybe that will change. De Blasio’s answers are frankly great. (I’ve said before I think he’s a great mayor.) I just don’t think he’s as plausible nominee.
9:33 PM: Okay, first break. I’m finding this debate more refreshing, engaging than I’d expected. I’ve expressed my frustration about the number of candidates allowed into these debates. I still feel that. But this seems like a debate that is engaging questions that most Americans are actually thinking about. Not all certainly: a big chunk of the country is obsessed with anti-immigrant policies, Iran, etc. But it’s better than I expected.
9:27 PM: I’m not sure what Booker is actually saying here in policy terms about Medicare for All or private insurance.
9:23 PM: O’Rourke feels like a throwback to a different era. I don’t mean that in the sense of being on one side or another of the health insurance policy question. I just mean tonally. Seems like a different era.
9:20 PM: That’s actually news. Only De Blasio and Warren said they were for Medicare for All, i.e., a single payer plan which would eliminate all but supplemental private insurance.
9:14 PM: I don’t know why de Blasio is running. But that was a great answer.
9:10 PM: Warren’s second bite at the economy apple, the response to Booker, was much better, the kind of clarity she’ll need as nominee.
9:09 PM: I think Booker’s answer on the economy is clearer, better than Warren’s.
9:04 PM: This is a bad format. Everyone’s rusty. But it’s too rushed.
9:02 PM: I do this for a living and I’m not totally sure who the guy over on the right is.
9:01 PM: Placeholder commentary.
Live blogging about the commence!
* For the moment, I’m trying to distinguish between the people who are decent people and have no business being on this debate stage and the folks who suck and have no business being on this debate stage.
* The MSNBC color commentators sound like they’re punchy or high.