By David E. Hubler
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Tuesday evening’s marathon three-hour Democratic presidential debate gave long-time front-runner and former vice president Joe Biden a bit of a breather, according to numerous media accounts of the event.
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Since the first Democratic debate of 2020 in August in Miami, Biden has been the main target of his competition.
But when the 12 Democrats — the largest number of presidential candidates ever in a single debate — took the stage in key battleground Ohio “it was Senator Elizabeth Warren who had most of the speaking time and weathered most of the attacks from her competitors,” CBS News reported. It was “a manifestation of her front-runner status.”
The Washington Post said Warren “came under sustained attack for the first time during a raucous primary debate … that revealed Democrats’ ongoing struggle to define their beliefs and choose a standard-bearer to take on President Trump.”
Warren Came to the Debate on Top and Left on Top
“Elizabeth Warren came into this debate on top and she left it on top,” David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati, told the Columbus Dispatch. Niven was speaking after the debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.
Fox News commentator Douglas E. Schoen concurred. “Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was the big winner Tuesday night,” he said. “Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., also delivered strong performances.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and the other eight candidates on stage came out the losers….” Schoen added.
Warren was “the most attacked candidate of the night,” said Shannon Pettypiece of NBC News. “The strongest shots came from her moderate Senate colleague Amy Klobuchar,” Pettypiece observed. “She accused Warren of not being honest about how she would pay for her plan to provide Medicare to every American.”
Warren’s Debate Rivals Ganged Up on Her
“Warren got a first taste of what it is like to be the front-runner on the debate stage Tuesday when her rivals ganged up on her and questioned whether her tax-the-rich rhetoric was too ‘punitive’ for an already polarized nation,” the conservative Washington Times‘ reporters S.A. Miller and Seth McLaughin wrote.
“The more moderate 2020 Democratic hopefuls took aim at Ms. Warren’s far-left agenda and plans for a wealth tax to finance a host of new benefits from tuition-free college to universal childcare,” they added.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also garnered some press kudos. Online news source Vox Media acknowledged that it’s reasonable for voters to wonder whether a 78-year-old who recently had a heart attack could handle “the uncommonly demanding job” of president.
However, Vox added, “Sanders’s performance Tuesday night provided an answer to that worry. He was more animated and on his game than much younger candidates like Tulsi Gabbard or Amy Klobuchar.”
Debate Gave Short Shrift to US Foreign Policy
“Americans – and the world – will wake up the morning after the debate wishing the Democratic candidates focused more sharply on the increasingly urgent matter of US foreign policy. The topic received short shrift on Tuesday night,” wrote CNN opinion contributor Frida Ghitis.