The number of candidates participating in Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate was notably smaller than it had been in previous gatherings.
Kimi Lynn King is a political science professor at the University of North Texas. She says the seven candidates onstage put on a somewhat more substantive debate that was more civil during the first half than the second.
“That may be an indication that the candidates themselves, who have been through debates before, were recognizing that this was a different environment, and that their opportunity to be a little bit feistier, and their willingness to go on the offensive would be more effective,” King says.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, were the most aggressive, King says. The two “went after each other,” while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden were less effective in mounting attacks. Amy Klobuchar seemed to benefit by taking the high road.
“Without a doubt, everyone is looking at this and saying [Minnesota Sen.] Amy Klobuchar was the person who ended up distinguishing herself,” King says. “While she got jabs in, she still appeared presidential and attempted to look as a uniter and not a divider.”
King says Klobuchar also improved the perception of her electability, though Biden maintained his position as front-runner.
Warren effectively criticized Buttigieg for holding a high-dollar, closed-door fundraiser. In return, Buttigieg criticized Warren for using money from her Senate campaign fund on her presidential campaign.
King says former Housing and Urban Development secretary and San Antonio mayor, Julián Castro, who was not on the debate stage Wednesday, will likely leave the presidential race at some point.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.