Last night was the first of only 6 Democratic party primary debates, conducted by CNN. There were few surprises, and a few good comments. There was very little sniping or tossing other candidates under the bus, but it did happen a couple times. The topics covered a lot of ground, some of which seemed geared towards generating "heat" or "controversy" (those backfired, for the most part). In general, the big takeaway is how much the candidates agree - rather than differ - on most topics.
Most people are familiar with Hillary Clinton - a lifelong Democrat - and Bernie Sanders, whose political career has mostly been as an Independent (never a Democrat). Martin O'Malley is also a lifelong Democrat, and Jim Webb - who sounded more conservative than any of the other candidates - has also always been a Democrat. Lincoln Chafee used to be a Republican, but indicated he didn't leave the party - the party left him.
I will present the topics and my notes on the candidates' responses below (and I apologize for the length), but here is my summation of the candidates' responses:Chafee:
I have never had a scandal (pointed reference to Hillary). Elect me for my ethics.Webb:
Grumble, grumble, grumble. I am a war veteran.O'Malley:
Everything they're talking about I already did as governor of MDSanders:
The country sucks. Wall Street bad! Revolution!Clinton:
Here are all the sides of the argument. What? I didn't answer the question?Clinton as a cubist drawing
There are already plenty of analsyes and fact-checking posts
out there. Here are my live notes from last night. I apologize for their length...OPENING STATEMENTS
Chafee took a small shot at HRC with comment on "scandal"
Webb stumbled through his opening statement
O'Malley mentioned he is a "life-long Democrat" - (a deliberate shot at Bernie and Chafee) and praised Obama
Bernie went Apocalypse Now!
Hillary (like Bernie) gave a short version of her campaign speech
Personal thought: What is it with candidates trying to demonstrate their bona fides
by sharing how their parents/ancestors worked menial jobs? Is that supposed to make them seem more "real", more "everyday"? You are all powerful and fairly wealthy. Don't pretend otherwise.CANDIDATES ASKED TO ADDRESS PERCEIVED PROBLEMS
Bernie being a Democratic Socialist
Chafee: only been a Dem for a few years (said he didn't change - the parties changed)
O'Malley: Baltimore problem
Webb: criticism of Affirmative ActionGUNS
Bernie: kept asking himself questions and answering them. Mentioned the "rural state" thing. Again.
HRC: I took on the NRA
O'Malley: I did it in MD, took on the NRA
Webb: In favor of protecting gun ownership
Chafee: Recommends working with NRA to come to a consensusFOREIGN POLICY
HRC: I be more tougher with Putin
Bernie: We should take a more libertarian stance with Syria. Don't fall for danger warnings; don't destabilize
Chafee: HRC shouldn't be trusted because of vote for Iraq
HRC: Oh yeah? Obama chose me for SoS
Bernie: I will only use force when we're threatened (and via coalition only - no unilateral action)
O'Malley: I won't ever take military action off the table, but use it as last result
HRC: I will use force (and threat of it) to get a compromise from frenemies
Webb: Iran treaty sucks, also - China is our biggest threat
HRC: Went wonky - baffle them with bullshit
O'Malley: We needed better intelligence in Libya, more "on-the-ground" spies
Webb: I am the best option to be commander-in-chief because I am a veteran
Bernie: I WILL be willing to use military force when necessary
Chafee: A disrupted Middle East is our biggest threat
OMalley: ISIL and climate change are our biggest threats
HRC: loose nukes are our biggest threat
Sanders: climate change is our biggest threat
Webb: cyber-attacks and Middle East unrest are our biggest threats
HRC: dodged the question
Bernie: no one cares about the damned emails! (huge applause)
Chafee: emails indicative of lack of integrity
OMalley: smacked down Debbie Wasserman-Schultz about lack of debates
CALL-IN QUESTION: DO BLACK LIVES MATTER, OR DO ALL LIVES MATTER?
Bernie: black lives matter
OMalley: black lives matter
HRC: dodged the question
Webb: whined again about lack of facetime... then all lives matter. Some of my friends are black
ECONOMY (income equality)
Sanders: Fix it with investments in infrastructure, increase minimum wage, guarantee women's wages, free college
HRC: good opportunity for all.
Omalley: we did everything Sanders mentioned in MD. Fix Wall Street/Banking
HRC: we need to some things... vague... vague... I'm tougher than Sanders
Sanders: no she's not. Break up the banks.
HRC: I told Wall St to "cut it out" (after saying rather clumsily that she represented Wall St)
Omalley: we need Glass-Steagall
HRC: we've all changed a policy position or two...
Webb: whined again about lack of face time, then added nothing of value
Chafee: I voted for repeal of Glass-Steagall because I was a newbie. Raise taxes on rich
Sanders: let everyone (even the rich) have free college. Pay with increased taxes
HRC: detailed her complicated plan for school, and for SSA and Medicare
Sanders: voted against immigration bill because it contained guest worker stuff that he said legalized slavery
HRC: Allow immigrants to buy into Obamacare, but no subsidies
OMalley: Immigration is good, and immigrants need health care (we'll pay more for it if they go to Emergency room, so let them have subsidies)
Webb: talked about his wife being an immigrant
HRC: Education - leave it to the states
OMalley: Education - We did it in MD
Sanders: I improved things when I had the opportunity as leader of the Senate committee.
Chafee: Wants to clarify surveillance in act
HRC: Likes it as is.
Sanders: Get rid of all surveillance (government and otherwise)
Chafee: bring him home. No charges
HRC: must face music
OMalley: not a whistleblower
Sanders: he broke the law, but take positives into consideration when leveling penalties
Webb: collecting data okay, but SnapChat it
DIFFERENCE WITH OBAMA
Chafee: change Middle East policy
OMalley: go after banks
HRC: I have a vagina
Sanders: revolution! Take on banks
Webb: Sorry Bernie - Revolution won't happen, and Congress won't pay for it. No executive actions, work with Republicans
OMalley: more renewable energy
WHY SHOULD/SHOULDN'T HRC BE CANDIDATE?
HRC: I'm a chick, not a Clinton
Omalley: we need a change
Sanders: we need a change
OMalley: clean energy grid by 2050, requires focus, not "all-of-the-above" approach
Webb: need "all-of-the-above" approach, and get China to stop polluting
Sanders: climate problems are a moral issue. Also - campaign finance reform
HRC: International approach and treaties
HRC: It works in CA, so why not nationally?
Sanders: We're the only modern country not doing it
OMalley: We did it in MD.
Sanders: Probably vote yes because of all the jailed people
HRC: not ready to take a position. See what happens in WA and CO. Supports medical marijuana. Don't jail people
HOW TO DEAL WITH REPUBLICAN CONGRESS
Sanders: Revolution is the only answer
ENEMY MOST PROUD OF
Chafee: coal lobby
Sanders: Wall St. / Big Pharma
Webb: enemy soldier who threw the grenade that wounded him
Chafee: I have done everything in government and have no scandals (me have good judgement)
Webb: Forget all their pie-in-the-sky promises - I will work out problems. I have mad leadership skills
OMalley: We're the good guys.
Sanders: Our country is fucked
HRC: Our country is fucked