From Miami, Florida - After months of organizing and basic campaign work, Democrats running for President turned the page to a new and difficult chapter in the 2020 race for the White House, with the first of two nights of prime time debates sponsored by NBC News in Miami, starting the fight for the Democratic Party nomination in earnest.
The 2020 debates are getting underway about six weeks earlier than Republicans started in August of 2015 - back then, the GOP was struggling to deal with as many as 17 candidates.
Democrats now have so many - over twenty - that they were forced to hold two nights of debates to deal with the excess candidates.
Here's the run down of what we saw in Miami tonight:
11:07 pm - There were winners and losers in terms of time. I don't think I would have picked Jay Inslee as the one with least amount of time.
10:59 pm - The first Democratic Party debate of 2020 is over. A second one - with ten other candidates will take place on Thursday night. Elizabeth Warren finishes with a familiar riff from her stump speech. As for the debate, the way it was moderated wasn't appreciated by Tulsi Gabbard's sister:
It's clear who MSNBC wants to be president: Elizabeth Warren. They're giving her more time than all the other candidates combined. They aren't giving any time to Tulsi at all. -V (Tulsi's sister)— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) June 27, 2019
10:49 pm - Everyone will now get 45 seconds for a closing statement. Last chance for the candidates to get out their preferred message. Delaney is first.
10:45 pm - A rapid fire question for everyone on the biggest threats to America.
Biggest geopolitical threats?— Elena Schneider (@ec_schneider) June 27, 2019
Delaney - China/nuclear weapons
Inslee - Donald Trump
Gabbard - Nuclear war
Klobuchar - China/Iran
O'Rourke - Climate change
Warren - Climate change
Booker - Nuclear war/climate change
Castro - China/climate change
Ryan - China
De Blasio - Russia
10:43 pm - Beto O'Rourke on President Trump: “We must begin impeachment now.” Delaney: “This is not the number one issue” that voters ask about.
10:38 pm - Tulsi Gabbard had her best moment of the debate as she took aim at Tim Ryan over involvement in Afghanistan.
10:30 pm - It's a choppy debate at times. We learned four years ago in the GOP debates that when you have too many people on the stage, it doesn't really promote a good debate, no matter how good the moderators might be.
I sympathize with the debate organizers as a field this large makes it difficult, but I wish this debate allowed for longer answers to get beyond the brief superficial talking points and more on the differences. Nonetheless, it’s an impressive field. #DNCDebate— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) June 27, 2019
10:23 pm - Climate change comes up, with the first question for Gov. Inslee of Washington State - it's his central campaign theme.
That grin from Inslee when Maddow says he's going to like the next question (hint: it's about climate change.)— Eliza Collins (@elizacollins1) June 27, 2019
.@JayInslee: "Who is going to make this the first priority? I am the candidate - and the only one - who says this has to be the top priority of the United States, the organizing principle of the United States ..."— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) June 27, 2019
10:21 pm - Yep. He's watching from Air Force One.
.@NBCNews and @MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves for having such a horrible technical breakdown in the middle of the debate. Truly unprofessional and only worthy of a FAKE NEWS Organization, which they are!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2019
10:19 pm - And some of the lesser known Democrats who are in Thursday's debate are watching as well.
10:17 pm - On guns, it's an array of answers.
Klobuchar says her line on gun control is going too far is "does it hurt my Uncle Dick?"— Eliza Collins (@elizacollins1) June 27, 2019
.@CoryBooker on guns: “If you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to buy and own a firearm.”— Patricia Murphy (@1PatriciaMurphy) June 27, 2019
10:12 pm - Also watching the debate - candidates who didn't make the cut for the stage in Miami. This is Montana Governor Steve Bullock.
Here's how I slipped past the DNC official guarding the door: I started talking about rural issues and they stopped paying attention. https://t.co/7fJVVeBQRb— Steve Bullock (@GovernorBullock) June 27, 2019
10:08 pm - One thing Twitter allows us to see - in real time - is that members of the other party are watching the Democrats as well.
I am truly amazed at how many gop politicos are watching dem debate according to Twitter. I assume it’s to watch the left out-crazy each other as therapy for the gop’s acceptance of “less crazy” as victory? #SassyWithRoy cc: @RepThomasMassie— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) June 27, 2019
10:07 pm - The NBC broadcast is back, moving into a focus on gun violence, referencing the school shooting not far from here in Parkland, Florida.
10:05 pm - It's a long break seemingly.
Tech fail for the ages at NBC debate— Erik Wasson (@elwasson) June 27, 2019
10:01 pm - NBC had to unexpectedly take a break, because the microphones were still on of the first group of moderators - and they were being heard in the debate hall. It wasn't as bad as the infamous Leslie Nielsen performance in the movie, “Naked Gun.”
9:54 pm - At the second break, there was a lot less of Warren in that second segment, and more of Castro.
9:50 pm - The debate switches to foreign policy, and the question of U.S. policy with Iran. Amy Klobuchar says the President always seems to be just a few minutes away from war with the Iranian regime. Tulsi Gabbard calls the President's advisers 'chicken hawks' when it comes to the threat of war with Iran.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL:— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) June 27, 2019
Everyone but Sen. Booker said they would rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.
Booker says, essentially, he would work from where we are now as president, not going to use a past deal as his binary choice.
9:45 pm - He's on Air Force One, flying to Japan for the G-20 Summit. But he's watching.
BORING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2019
9:41 pm - A reminder of where we are in Miami, as Jose Diaz-Balart of NBC asks Beto O'Rourke a question about immigration in Spanish, and O'Rourke responds in kind - Julian Castro then keeps talking over O'Rourke, as the two Texans go at each other.
It’s a Texas brawl! #DNCDebate— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) June 27, 2019
Castro strategy session:— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) June 27, 2019
"How do I break out tonight?"
"Pummel the crap out of Beto on immigration. He won't know what to do and he's going nowhere, so nothing to lose. And people will see you as knowledgeable and tough on a key issue. And the media love a fight."
"Let's do it!"
9:35 pm - The subject turns to immigration, and the surge of illegal immigrants along the border. Julian Castro says the U.S. needs a “Marshall Plan” for countries in Central America, to convince people not to come to the U.S.
9:33 pm - The first commercial break. I don't have the stats, but it just feels like Elizabeth Warren has had the most air time so far.
This debate is like this race more broadly: Messy. Candidates jockeying for attention, with pent up energy. When one starts to get some momentum, the camera suddenly goes to someone else. You forget about someone being on stage and then they reappear.— Matt Viser (@mviser) June 27, 2019
9:23 pm - A discussion over Medicare For All prompts the first dust up among the candidates. De Blasio jumps in and talks over O'Rourke, who talks back over the New York mayor. Then Delaney says it's right to guarantee medical care, but wrong to take away private health insurance.
Beto: We should keep some private insurance becau--— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) June 27, 2019
De Blasio: oh haaay I'm on stage too and--
Delaney: So am I and we should keep what's working and fix what's broken BOOM (cheers)
Gabbard: look. people. need. health care.
Booker: when I'm prez, everyone will have health care
Democratic candidates are largely on the same page regarding increased health insurance coverage and guaranteed access to reproductive health care. The continued role of private health insurers is a wedge.— Larry Levitt (@larry_levitt) June 27, 2019
9:20 pm - One of the first one-liners comes from Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-MN.
9:17 pm - I can't imagine how stomach-churning a debate must be, even for very experienced candidates. That's probably why you're seeing candidates steer clear of the actual questions being asked.
Best strategy so far is completely ignoring the question and launching right into your stump— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) June 27, 2019
9:15 pm - For a number of the Democrats on this stage tonight, this is their best chance to introduce themselves to voters who have not really tuned in yet to the 2020 race.
Delaney and Gabbard both avoid their questions in favor of introducing themselves to voters who likely don’t know who they are— Dorey Scheimer (@DoreyScheimer) June 27, 2019
9:06 pm - Beto O'Rourke is asked if he would support a 70 percent top income tax rate. He doesn't really answer, and goes into an extended discussion about the economy in Spanish. The moderators are clearly trying to pit the Democrats against each other by asking about other plans. So far, it hasn't worked.
O'Rourke speaks in Spanish, does not say whether he would agree to 70% highest marginal tax rate, even when asked point-blank twice— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) June 27, 2019
9:04 pm - Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-MN was basically invited to take a shot at the breadth of Warren's proposals, but instead, talks about her basic ideas of helping kids pay for college, and paying off student loans.
9:02 pm - Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-MA, the top candidate on stage tonight in this group, gets the first question - about the cost of her proposals to make major changes. For Warren, it's a hanging curve ball, as she begins to rattle off her familiar message from her stump speech. “It's doing great for giant oil companies,” Warren said, “but not for the rest of us.”
8:55 pm - And the candidates are all on stage.
8:40 pm - Two of the candidates on stage tonight - Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar - went south of Miami today to an immigrant holding facility in Homestead, Florida. It's quickly becoming a pilgrimage of sorts for the Democratic candidates, as more are expected there in coming days.
Per release just now from @DebbieforFL, these 2020 candidates are visiting the Homestead Migrant Detention Center on Friday:— Johnny Verhovek (@JTHVerhovek) June 26, 2019
(Warren and Klobuchar went today)
(Beto/de Blasio/Gabbard visiting tomorrow)
8:30 pm - There are ten Democrats on the stage tonight. You might know a lot of them. You might know only one or two.
8:15 pm - Most of the press will watch it like everyone else, on TV. The press filing center is not in the same building as the debate stage, as reporters are seated either at tables by the 'spin room,' or in seats surrounded by TV screens.