Ten candidates will share the stage Thursday at the Democratic debate, but most of the watchful eyes will focus on only two. The spotlight will be on Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, and good luck breaking through that if you’re one of the other eight. Yes, Bernie Sanders – even you.
Candidates polling in the low single digits may look back on this night as their last hurrah. Polling at 2 or 3 percent is OK in April, but some of the bottom feeders need to pick up their game. Now is the time. Whatever you’ve got, better bring it.
And here’s some advice for those playing follow the leaders. If you have points to make in this scrum, do it quickly. For reasons passing understanding, this will be a three-hour debate because, you know, America can’t get enough of Andrew Yang.
Not only that, Democrats chose to debate during the same time as the NFL’s Thursday Night Football game. A sudden thought: it might work out anyway because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the teams that will be playing.
Local fans may be looking for an excuse not to torture themselves with another four quarters of Buc Ball may look for alternatives. They may develop an urgent need to know more about Amy Klobuchar’s position on climate change.
The back-and-forth between Biden and Warren will grab the headlines, of course. It’s the first time they’ve been on stage together since the debates began, and their every word will be picked apart.
How many gaffes will Biden make? Will Warren start waving her arms frantically to make a point and wind up inadvertently socking Biden in the jaw?
Three hours is a long time under the bright lights to stay completely on point and not say something, you know, stupid. Then again, people almost expect Biden to get a fact wrong or forget the phone number for donations to his campaign.
He has made multiple verbal goofs throughout the campaign but still leads most of the national polls. He is well-liked because people see him as genuine and honest. That’s a nice contrast to the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Warren, on the other hand, is said to be surging and has gained considerable ground in the last few months. She has won praise for her organization and passion. She will bore deep into the policy weeds, which contrasts greatly with Biden.
And this show is all about contrast.
Traditional Democrats, terrified of four more years of Donald Trump, want a sure thing. They overlook Biden’s flaws because they believe he has the best chance to win.
The progressives aren’t buying that argument, though, and they have rallied behind Warren. She preaches the gospel of Medicare for all, which under her plan would abolish private insurance.
Biden won’t go there.
It’s one of many differences on policies and personality between the two. Biden will likely stress his experience at knowing which proposals can or can’t get through Congress. Warren will counter that she’s ready to fight hard for what she believes.
That is the essence of the Democratic debate and will be until a nominee is chosen.