One Republican Strategist’s Review of the Fourth Democratic Presidential Debate

Last night, over the course of 3 hours, I tuned in to watch the fourth Democratic Presidential Debate, being held in Grant Street Consultant’s backyard, of Westerville, Ohio – a suburb of Columbus.  As a good American, I consider it my duty to follow every debate — though as a Republican, it can be tough to stomach.  But since I’m a never-Trumper, it’s in my best interest to know what’s really being said by the candidates so I can decipher fact from fiction for myself.  I’m thrilled to say, not all of them are the socialists Trump would want us to think, but some of the proposals do give me angst.

In short, I would contest that nothing much happened last night to change the leader board of those Democrats running for President.   What did stand out to me is that judging by the way they were going after Elizabeth Warren indicates her recent surge in polls has the other candidates nervous and looking to knock her down a peg or two.

What has changed in the brief time since the third debate, are the serious issues of foreign policy and possible impeachment of a President — and I believe the moderators did a decent job of bringing up those weighty issues and allowing candidates to devote the time necessary to weigh in.   For me, the foreign policy arena is where the Candidates have a golden opportunity right now to offer the American voter a real alternative to Trump’s geopolitical disaster in Syria.

Status Quo – The Likely Result

What I don’t think has changed after last night – is the leader board.  I believe the top 3 candidates going in to the debate will still be the top 3 after the debate.  Specifically, here is how I thought each of the candidates performed:

Sanders – Honestly, hard to believe this man just had a heart attack two weeks ago.  He appeared strong, energetic, focused and more even-keeled than in past debates.

Biden:  A more pensive demeanor helped him come across as more Presidential than last time. He seemed well-rested and I really don’t think the democrat voters will buy into the whole Hunter scandal that the President has been pushing. My criticism is that when he tries to talk to fast in the short amount of time allotted, he fumbles over his words.

Warren:  Though she is clearly one of the most intelligent of all the candidates, she never stops talking! Yes, she has energy – but not admitting when you’re wrong on something or avoiding the cost question a million times, is getting old.

Harris:  Far more balanced and relaxed this go-around.  She did a good job – but is it enough to move her up?  Not so sure. I honestly thought she would be polling a lot higher than she is.

Klobuchar:  This Midwest moderate is knowledgeable, balanced, kind and I enjoyed watching her and Elizabeth Warren go at it.

Buttigieg:  The nice boy Mayor seemed to have gotten a lot meaner.  He didn’t seem as solutions-oriented as he did in prior debates.  I disagree with a lot of the talking heads on whether his performance was stellar, but I respect the guy’s position as Veteran.

Booker:  I’d give him most improved last night and he deserves credit for calling out his fellow candidates for attacking one another when they should be focused on Trump.

Steyer:  For a billionaire on the debate stage for the first time, he did okay – when he managed to get to speak.  However, he was nervous and appeared stiff; he comes across much more relaxed on his commercials.

Castro:  Though he didn’t have the blunder of a shameless, ageist attack like the one against Biden in the last debate, I don’t see his performance as anything but neutral.

Gabbard: Her debate with the fellow veteran Buttigieg on foreign policy lead to one of the most memorable exchanges of the evening and got her point across that, “Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hands.”

O’Rourke:  I equate him to a college-like radical.  His policy dreams would be difficult to administer and entirely impractical.  He should be Elizabeth Warren’s Chief of Staff!

Yang:  Had it not been for this tech entrepreneur, the issue of job loss to automation like would not have been raised.  His big thing is a universal basic income and no doubt, telling people he’s going to just give you $1000 a month has kept him in the race.

Should Trump Be Worried?

If Warren continues to gain traction in the polls – I think that would be a gift for Trump.  One thing we don’t hear enough of, is that there is a whole world of people who don’t tweet, use social media or answer polls!  And those voters, I contend – will likely choose Biden over Trump.  So, Biden is still the one I’d watch if I were Trump.

The only surprise issue to come out of last night, that I’d personally appreciate seeing get traction – and would drive Trump absolutely insane, was the proposal by Sen. Harris to push Trump off of Twitter for tweets that she considers a threat to public safety.  Now, that is an issue I would say would benefit all of us – especially us good Republicans!  But what do I know, I’m “just a lobbyist.”