Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren
What was the sense, pundits said, of Elizabeth Warren attacking Bernie Sanders, or of him attacking her. Given they were both seeking to appeal to many of the same voters, they risked harming themselves, if they criticised policies that were similar to their own.
Yet, few anticipated the progressive love-in that became the first night of the second of the Democratic Party’s 12 debates. From the moment they hugged each other on the stage of Detroit’s Fox Theatre, the two senators almost performed a double act.“I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” Warren said at one point, in an attack on John Delaney, one of the centrists among the 10 hopefuls on stage.
A few moments later, Sanders was accused by governor Colorado governor John Hickenlooper of being too extreme to be elected. “Every credible poll I have seen has me beating Donald Trump,” snapped Sanders. A few moments he was pressed about the difficulty of taking on the fossil fuel industry.
“I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas,” he said. “Republicans are not afraid of big ideas. They could give a trillion dollars in tax breaks to billionaires. So please don’t tell me that we cannot take on the fossil fuel industry.”
Congressman Tim Ryan looked momentarily stumped. “Bernie, you don’t have to yell,” he said. “And if we’re waiting for 2040 for a ban to come in on gasoline vehicles we’re screwed.”Sanders, 77, and Warren, 70, did not have it all their own way. Pete Buttigieg, 37, will have considered he had a decent night, seeking to project himself as someone not as inflexibly hardline as the older progressives, but who was also a generation younger.
Businessman John Delaney, whose staff had reportedly been urging him to drop out of the race, made a lot of noise, as he had to.
It was unclear, however, how much traction that noise generated. In one of the more scathing put downs of the night, Warren responded to one of his points, by saying: “We should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care.” Author Marianne Williamson will have impressed many Americans with her compassion and authenticity, even if they may not end up voting for her. Supporters of Beto O’Rourke ought to be deeply concerned. He may not have bothered turning up, such was the paucity of impact he had.
Polls suggest Sanders and Warren are separated by barely a couple of points, running in second and third behind Joe Biden. At some point they will have to take aim at each.
But that was not was happened in Detroit. In Detroit, they came out first and fast, and did not look back.
The next Democratic presidential debate will be held one night only and include all ten remaining candidates onstage, including the frontrunners Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
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