The first primary debate of the Democratic National Committee officially ended at 11 p.m. on Thursday night.
Of the 25 Democrats campaigning for a nomination to presidency, 20 qualified for this first debate, which took place over two nights. On Wednesday, 10 candidates — including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro — took stage for two hours.
On Thursday, the remaining 10 presidential candidates, including Sen. Kamala Harris, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg , debated topics including the economy, healthcare, gun violence, and immigration.
The internet and the commentary press were quick to declare winners, losers, and takeaways on what the debate means for the 2020 field of Democratic candidates. We aggregated some of these voices.
Before analyzing any content of the debate, statistical data on the total time and number of words spoken by each candidate was quantified. According to CNN, Biden had the most air time with 13:18 minutes, followed by Harris with 12:09 minutes, and Sanders with 10:53 minutes. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang spoke the least of all candidates, with only 2:56 minutes of air time.
FiveThirtyEight’s analysis on how many words spoken by each candidate placed Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg on the top three spots. Meanwhile, Biden, Booker, Harris, and Buttigieg, and Rep. Beto O’Rourke were the five candidates who spoke the most words in Wednesday’s and Thursday’s debates.
Inquirer staff writer Abraham Gutman tallied how many minutes the candidates spent on different topics during the two-hour debate.
President Donald Trump was mentioned 34 times last night, more than on Wednesday night’s debate. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sanders, and author Marianne Williamson mentioned the president the most.
Kamala Harris vs. Joe Biden
One of the night’s highlights came when Harris and Biden engaged in a stern discussion over race, fueled by comments made by Biden last week when the former Vice President refused to walk back positive statements he’d previously made about his working relationships with segregationists in the Senate. Harris began by saying, “As the only black person onstage, I would like to speak on the issue of race."
She then called out Biden for opposing busing as a plan to integrate schools and confront racial segregation during his time as senator in the 1970s. “I do not believe you are a racist," Harris told Biden before sharing her personal experience as a child in California who was bused to school every day.
Biden responded by explaining how “what I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education."
This is how the audience reacted to this discussion.
South Bend Indiana’s Mayor Buttigieg gave an honest response to a question regarding the case of Eric Logan, a black man who was shot by a white police-officer on June 16 in South Bend.
When asked about why the South Bend Police Department has not incorporated more black officers, Buttigieg responded with a simple “Because I couldn’t get it done.” He later explained his perspective on Logan’s death, explaining that “I could walk you through all of the things that we have done as a community, all of the steps that we took, from bias training to de-escalation, but it didn’t save the life of Eric Logan. And when I look into his mother’s eyes, I have to face the fact that nothing that I say will bring him back.”
Buttigieg’s response received mixed reactions from the audience. While some are ready to listen to Buttigieg’s future plans, others remain skeptical.
Eric Swalwell on “passing the torch”
Former US Representative for California’s 15th congressional district Eric Swalwell shared a personal story on how, as a child, he was able to see Joe Biden, in a California Democratic convention, explain how “it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans.” Swalwell claimed that it is currently time for Biden to “pass this torch" to allow a new generation to solve issues such as climate change, gun violence, and student debt.
Biden responded by saying that “I’m holding onto that torch. I want to make it clear."
That message resonated with some viewers:
President Trump quickly responded to the candidates’ support of providing healthcare for undocumented immigrants, who Trump calls, “illegal aliens."
Meanwhile, TV host Bill O’Reilly sees Buttigieg as the winner of this debate, mentioning how he is “genuine" and “somewhat reasonable."
Candidates were asked about their first priority as president, if elected. These were their responses:
The entire first debate was criticized for not dedicating enough time to the discussion of climate change. During both nights, only fifteen minutes out of the four hours went toward this issue, Umair Irfan writes for Vox.
Others were frustrated that neither the issues faced by Puerto Rico nor Venezuela were discussed in the debate.
Marianne Williamson dominated Twitter feeds throughout the night. This is what people had to say of her accent and her responses, which often drew on spiritualism more than politics:
Two places where Biden got points: His refusal to shake Sanders’ hand, and his smile: