Winners and Losers of the Second Round of the Democratic Presidential Debate

The stage was crowded on Thursday night in the second and final round of the Democratic debates in Miami. While it was tough for the candidates to get that coveted screen time, here is a look at some winners and losers from the second night for the 20 Democrats trying to take down President Donald Trump.


Kamala Harris: If Democrats did not know who she was going into this debate, they likely walked away impressed. She took it to Joe Biden on the issue of his votes back in the 1970s on busing in a way that showed how it personally affected her. She tried to lay out some progressive policies, including giving every American making less than $100,000 a year $500 a month. Best of all, very early in the debate when the rest of the candidates were basically yelling at each other to get a word in, she came up with perhaps the best line of the night: “America doesn’t want a food fight, they want to know who is going to put food on their table.”

Pete Buttigieg: Thursday night showed why the South Bend mayor has moved into the top tier so quickly. He was pinned down with a tough question by Rachel Maddow on a white South Bend police officer shooting a black man and the mayor’s answer was brilliant: “I didn’t get it done.” How often do you see a politician with such refreshing honesty and self-reflection? He also ripped into the religious wing of the Republican Party, saying they have no right to use religion if they support the separation of children from their parents at the border and the horrid conditions those children are subjected to.

Kirstin Gillibrand: While she didn’t hit a home run, the New York senator was kind of a winner, She showed her moxie by refusing to be ignored, often interjecting herself in the debate. She had a great answer on women’s reproductive rights, promising to be a woman’s strongest advocate on more than simply the right to an abortion. However, she remains too wonky, not exactly what inspires voters as they imagine what a president should be.


Joe Biden: There really was no way for the former vice president to win. As the top dog in this fight, Biden was going to be the leading target for the other candidates. While he did a fairly good of deflecting the attacks, Biden still took some hits. With the smoke cleared, Biden still walks out of the debate as the clear front runner but he did not smack anyone down and out of this race.

Bernie Sanders: In second place in most polls, Sanders was attacked often, especially over “Medicare for all.” The vast majority of Americans get their healthcare through their employer. As other candidates on the stage pointed out, even the most socialist European countries have a role for private insurance as a supplement, something Sanders would not allow. Sanders is at his best in front of a crowd of his supporters or on a smaller stage. On a crowded stage, like what he faced on Thursday night, he seemed more like an angry, ranting grandfather than the next president.

Marianne Williamson: Why is this author and her flowing platitudes even up on the debate stage? She should be writing her next book instead of wasting the nation’s time with talk about how she will bring back “love” to the United States when she is elected president–something that is never going to happen.

John Hickenlooper: The former Colorado governor tried to make himself look progressive but did not seem that way when talking about energy policy and healthcare. Lost in the back of the pack, there are doubts if he can make it to Iowa.

The Jury Is Still Out:

Andrew Yang: He could be a great policy advisor but doesn’t look ready for the top spot. Not wearing a tie is not very presidential. Yang is advocating what is called a Value Added Tax, which would add anywhere from an 8 to 15 percent tax on everything Americans buy–not likely to fly.

Eric Swalwell: The California congressman had a moment on guns and went after both Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg on the subject. He may have a bright future on the national political scene but it likely won’t be in 2020.

Michael Bennett: The Colorado senator simply did not make much of an impression in his limited air time. He just didn’t say anything to distinguish himself on the crowded stage.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on who won and lost on debate night. Email me at


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