Here are the winners and losers from the MSNBC Democratic presidential debate.
Winners and Losers:
1). Bernie Sanders – Sanders has a big lead in New Hampshire, so this debate felt like a home game for him and he delivered. Sanders gave the audience a rundown of his basic campaign platforms, but there were heated exchanges based on the record of the candidates, and Sen. Sanders took Clinton on. There was an edge to Sanders that had been missing in some of the earlier debates. If the polls are anywhere near correct, Sanders is going to win comfortably, and he did nothing here to hurt his chances.
If there is one area of concern for Sanders, it is that his message is getting a bit repetitive. The campaign might look at broadening their main points to show another side of the candidate. Overall, his performance was excellent, and Sanders was a clear winner in New Hampshire.
2). Hillary Clinton – Clinton is a winner in this debate because she was able to expand her message. Several times during the debate, former Sec. Clinton hammered away at the idea that Democrats needed to broaden the discussion in the primary. Clinton wasn’t only trying to broaden the discussion. She was broadening the electorate. Clinton used the New Hampshire debate to speak to voters in Nevada, South Carolina, and on Super Tuesday.
Clinton had a strong moment during the foreign policy discussion about a plan to defeat ISIS when Sanders brought up Clinton’s Iraq war vote, and she responded a vote on Iraq in 2002 is not a plan to defeat ISIS.
3). Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd – Maddow and Todd asked good questions. Todd’s question to Sanders about why he supports campaign finance reform but he declined to participate in public funding for the primary was very interesting. It also allowed Sanders and Clinton to talk about an antiquated system that does not get nearly enough attention.
Maddow was her usual solid self. She asked a fantastic question of Sanders about whether or not he can work with big business if elected. Todd asked Clinton if she would make the transcripts of her paid speeches public. The MSNBC moderators asked questions that the candidates were not expecting, which made the MSNBC debate much more interesting.
1). Republicans Who Are Hoping For Democratic Division – Clinton and Sanders had their moments of dispute, and things did get a little testy at times, but Democrats are much more unified than Republicans. The Republican Party is desperately hoping that Bernie Sanders will do their dirty work for them. Sanders didn’t go after Clinton in a way that could damage a general election campaign. If Republicans are hoping for Bernie Sanders to bring Hillary Clinton down, or for the Democratic Party to meltdown into the kind of ideological chaos that is fracturing the GOP, they were sorely disappointed by this debate.
2). Gov. Rick Snyder – Both Clinton and Sanders unloaded on Rick Snyder and Republicans for not doing enough for the people of Flint. The point was made that not a single new piece of pipe has been laid. Clinton and Sanders called out Snyder for foot-dragging and not giving the people of Flint the help that they need. Both Democratic candidates reminded the country that children are being poisoned in Flint and brought the crisis back to national prominence.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association