Round one of the first debate among the Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination is in the books and, as expected, the reaction to the first half of the split debate in Miami is widespread and varied.
The head of the Florida Democratic Party saw it as a positive display of the party’s issues heading into the 2020 presidential election, which is still well over a year a way.
“Our party’s first night’s slate talked about their ideas and shared their visions for the future with Floridians,” said Chair Terrie Rizzo. “They reminded the American people that Democrats are the party of ideas and the party for the people.”
But, Republicans saw it as a display of more of the same socialist policies that have failed Democrats over the years.
“Tonight, we saw the Democrat Party advocate for open borders and proudly raise their hands to eliminate our choice of healthcare for our families. These socialist policies would kill our economy and put Americans out of work,” said Rick Gorka, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee.
Appearing Thursday morning on Fox News, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the Democrats taking part in the first debate didn’t have any answers to the real issues facing the country, such as immigration.
“The problem is they didn’t have the answers to real problems. They didn’t have an answer in English. They didn’t have an answer in Spanish,” Rubio said referring to the fact that at least three of the candidates showed off their Spanish speaking skill by providing some answers in Spanish.
“They agree there is a crisis, but for them the crisis is not that thousands and thousands of people are coming here with their children illegally. The crisis is that we’re not just allowing them to just walk in, sign a paper and stay. That’s the crisis,” Rubio went on to say. “If we did what they wanted the numbers of people coming could potentially double. That’s what they are advocating. That is the radical position they have taken. It’s a dangerous position way outside the mainstream.”
While the 10 candidates took turns blasting each other in the first round, there was one candidate who emerged from Wednesday night’s debate relatively unscathed — President Donald Trump. The president was expected to take some strong criticism from the Democrats, but many of them chose to go after each other during the debate. Only Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar made Trump an issue by mentioning him nine times.
Republicans say there is a reason why.
“The fact remains, President Donald Trump has restarted our economy and reestablished American leadership around the world,” said the RNC’s Gorka. “Voters know that President Trump has delivered on his word and it is why Democrats will lose in 2020.”
The other half of the field in these first Democratic debates will take the stage tonight headlined by former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. As a matter of fact, four of the party’s five top-polling contenders are among the 10 candidates debating Thursday night, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Sen. Kamala Harris joining Biden and Sanders.
The polls have shown Biden to be the Democratic frontrunner in the race. A Quinnipiac University poll shows him leading with 41 percent among Florida registered Democrats, Sanders has 14 percent, with 12 percent for Elizabeth Warren, who took part in Wednesday’s first round, 8 percent for Buttigieg and 6 percent for Harris. No other contender tops 1 percent, with 16 candidates polling at less than 1 percent.
The question in Thursday night’s debate is: will Biden be able to stay above the fray and keep his focus on attacking Trump’s record, or will he be forced to defend his own record amid attacks from his Democratic opponents?