Democrats Hit Each Other Hard In Second Night Of Debates

Aug 1, 2019

The second round of Democratic presidential hopefuls debated in Detroit Wednesday. WKAR’s Abigail Censky, was there and she joined Morning Edition Host Mary Ellen Pitney for a conversation about major themes of the final night of debates in Detroit.

Interview Highlights

Frontrunners Under Attack

“At first, it seemed like night two was going to be a repeat of the same story of progressives versus moderates and everyone ganging up on the two candidates billed as stars, but with different characters this time. And that turned out to be true for maybe the first 40 minutes to an hour, where it was a free for all against front runners Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris. But then things started to open up and other candidates started to land punches, notably Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard when she criticized Harris on her record as a prosecutor. Later, Secretary Julian Castro criticized Biden on his immigration record. For the most part, we got all the blockbuster fights we were expecting.”

The first portion of the debate was largely consumed by Biden and Harris fending off attacks from each other, as well as the candidates flanking them. Biden and Harris are considered frontrunners, with strong polling and fundraising numbers (allowing them to easily qualify for the third debates). The remainder of candidates will need to see surges in polling and steady donations to qualify for the third debates in September.

Biden As A Foil

“Vice President there's a saying in my community, you're dipping into the Kool Aid and you don't even know the flavor.”

Cory Booker drew hollers from the crowd several times in exchanges with Vice President Biden, but none more audibly than when he clapped back at Biden after the vice president made criticisms of Booker's tenure as mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Outside of a few memorable Booker, Biden exchanges New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also sharply criticized the vice president for issues surrounding treatment of women and gender. Although Biden staunchly defended himself, he was an easy mark for candidates looking for a breakout moment since he has been a political figure for decades.

Words Of Wisdom From Gilchrist

“So, first of all, he said as a Detroiter he's very proud that the debates were held here in Detroit, and just shows how Central Michigan is to democratic strategy in 2020. When I asked him what he'd advise candidates to talk about when courting Michigan voters, this is what he told me, ‘infrastructure education, job creation and closing the skill gap to connect people to those jobs. Talk about those issues in Michigan your way that's what we did in 2018.’”

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist said he hasn't made an official endorsement yet. He said he will jointly endorse a candidate with Governor Gretchen Whitmer. He cautioned, for a candidate to win over Michigan’s top legislative duo and Michigan voters, they’ll need to “show up.”

Follow Abigail Censky on Twitter: @AbigailCensky