Former Vice President Joe Biden is not generally known as the world’s best debater, but he did seem to emerge energized from this second round of debates this week. Sen. Kamala Harris endured the inevitable attacks that come from being placed near the top of the pack. It was a tough night for her, but despite her uneven performance, she and Sen. Cory Booker, showed they are energetic, smart and charismatic. They the really crucial test: You can picture them holding their own, one-on-one against a ruthless Donald Trump.
With so many candidates, many hope the Democratic Party is strict in enforcing its rules, and narrows the field for the next debate round. It will have a higher bar for candidates to qualify. With 20 people running for the nomination, these debates became a frantic attempt to stand out or chase a sound bite that will resonate with television producers and social media users.
Booker told Biden, “You’re dipping into the Kool Aid and you don’t even know the flavor.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s said she planned to “Clorox the Oval Office”– clever, but probably not enough to keep her in the race.
Sen. Michael Bennet was masterful at bringing the debate back to Trump. Trump’s racist rhetoric alone, Bennet said, is reason enough to vote Trump out. “We have a moral obligation,” he said, “to defeat Donald Trump, he has to be a single term president.”
Democrats seem at their best when they take the moral high ground in a sharp contrast with Trump, while highlighting the best approach among their own ideas for moving forward.
But the field of candidates is far too big. Voters need a debate where they will hear more details, not just soundbites, from the top three–maximum four–candidates of the two nights. The next debate should feature: Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet.