Media on Debate #4: Warren wins, Biden bombs, Bernie holds serve

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Michael F. Haverluck (

Dem debate 4The most crowded stage for a presidential debate ever held saw a besieged Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) fend off a multi-fronted attack from 11 other Democratic primary candidates to emerge what Fox News considered the clear winner.

Fox News' Douglas E. Schoen assessed that only two other candidates – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, Ind.) – pulled off strong performances. In addition, he declared former Vice President Joe Biden and the remaining eight candidates as the undisputed losers of the three-hour contest hosted by CNN and The New York Times in Westerville, Ohio – a swing state for the 2020 election.

Warren rising star

The standout performance of the night went to Warren, who had effective counterpunches after talking blows from various candidates all night.

"Warren's strong performance will likely solidify her frontrunner status ahead of Biden and Sanders, [as] she emerged the clear winner of the night by showing she was sharp and prepared as she fended off attacks from candidates who were looking to cut into her polling lead," Schoen assessed. "Even during the heated exchanges over healthcare and a wealth tax, Warren was able to turn attacks leveled against her around, and still deliver the best answers of the evening."

Warren had more speaking time than any other candidate and portrayed herself as defender of the poor against the rich when receiving multiple attacks on her proposed universal healthcare program, dubbed "Medicare for All."

"My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax, it's why does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?" she asked, according to The Hill, which noted her plan for a two-percent wealth tax on Americans with a $50 million to $1 billion net worth and three percent on those worth more than $1 billion.

Biden weakly defended his and the other candidates' positions, insisting, "no one is supporting billionaires," and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) agreed with the vice president before giving Warren – who now has unrivaled fundraising and polling momentum – what she called "a reality check."

"Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires," the Minnesotan stressed before sharing her plan to roll back most of President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cut law. "We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea."

Two other presidential longshots chimed in in their attempts to put a dent in Warren's armor.

"Businessman Andrew Yang criticized a wealth tax, saying such taxes make sense 'in principle,' but noting that other countries have repealed their wealth taxes," The Hill's Naomi Jagoda recounted. "He said he thinks it would be a better idea to impose a value-added tax."

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) – who recently got heat for vowing to confiscate semi-automatic rifles from legal gunowners and tax churches opposing same-sex "marriage" – also tried to chip away at Warren's plan to tax the rich, which he said is only "part of the solution" for income inequality, while insisting policymakers must also lift people up.

"Sometimes I think that Sen. Warren is more focused on being punitive or pitting some part of the country against the other," O'Rourke expressed.

Sanders back in the ring

After suffering a heart attack that many thought would knock him out of his White House bid, Sanders jumped back into the ring Tuesday night to challenge Warren, but his mantra – that he is a full-blooded socialist, while Warren is a capitalist through-and-through – is failing to boost him in the polls.

"Sanders delivered a strong, forceful performance in the debate, succeeding in showing voters that he has not lost a step, making him the second-place finisher of the night, but it is clear that Warren has supplanted Sanders as the leader of the progressive movement in the Democratic field," Schoen maintained. "As a result, it will be difficult – if not impossible – for Sanders to reestablish himself ahead of Warren."

However, Sanders hopes his latest endorsement from fellow-self-proclaimed socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and two Muslim "Squad" members will move him up.

"At least three members of the 'Squad' of far-left freshman members of Congress will reportedly endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for president," Fox News' Dom Calicchio announced Tuesday night.  

"Ocasio-Cortez will appear with Sanders on Saturday in Queens, N.Y., at a 'Bernie's Back' rally designed to generate excitement for the senator's campaign following his recent heart procedure, [and] Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), will also endorse the candidate," Fox confirmed. "In addition, CNN reported that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) will endorse Sanders, as well."

Omar – who's numerous controversial anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks have drawn wide criticism from critics – geared her endorsement of Sanders as being the best choice to forward Democrats' anti-Trump campaign.

"Bernie is leading a working-class movement to defeat Donald Trump that transcends generation, ethnicity and geography," Omar said in a statement posted by Sanders' campaign on Twitter. "I believe Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump in 2020."

Boost for Buttigieg?

Buttigieg – the first openly homosexual presidential candidate – not only passed Biden in campaign fundraising for the last quarter but also upstaged the flagging former frontrunner from behind the podium during the fourth debate.

In similar fashion to Sanders, AOC, Omar and Tlaib, Buttigieg used his anti-Trump positioning to climb his way over other candidates, starting with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

"[Buttigieg] had several strong moments in the Tuesday night debate, [and] was able to make a compelling case as a young, center-left candidate from a swing state with a military background," Schoen pointed out. "[He] was particularly strong during a tense exchange with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii over President Trump's decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, delivering a response that elicited cheers from the audience."

He attempted to make Gabbard out to be aligned with Trump and Republicans regarding foreign policy in the Middle East.

"Respectfully congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong," Buttigieg challenged Gabbard. "The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it's a consequence of a withdrawal and betrayal by this president of American allies and American values."

Biden bombed again?

Schoen predicts Biden will drop further in the polls after his subpar performance and that Buttigieg and other top rivals should expect a boost from their Tuesday night performances.

"Biden was unable to break through and deliver the forceful showing that he needed, dodging a question regarding his son's work with Ukraine and delivering several other uneven answers throughout the night," Schoen informed. "With each passing day, Biden seems to move further from securing the Democratic presidential nomination, and his unimpressive performance Tuesday night will likely result in a post-debate polling decline."


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