Jul 31, 2019

Progressives own the first debate night

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders looked like Democrats' de facto leaders and policymakers last night, in the opening half of the party's back-to-back Debate 2.

The state of play: The two progressives dominated the clock. Warren had the most speaking time and Sanders was second, with Pete Buttigieg third.

Both spoke to Democrats who are tired of small ball.

  • Warren: "I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States, just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for."
  • Sanders: "I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas." 

Why it matters ... Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who warned the party this week about moving too far left, told Axios' Mike Allen after the debate:

  • "No one was the happy warrior — a collective shortcoming. We are so angry at Trump, we are letting it get the better of us."

CNN's debate structure — with candidates pressed into abbreviated answers, often in response to a rival — frustrated the more centrist campaigns:

  • All of your policy proposals that you share with people watching are suddenly in the context of someone else's policy plan.
  • That eats away at your talking points for those issues, and for your ownership over your own policies.
  • And it's a big win for the progressive wing of the party.

Buttigieg, 37, drew applause when asked if voters should take age into consideration when picking a president:

I don't care how old you are. I care about your vision. ... Because the only reason we got this president is that normal didn't work. ...
[I]f you are watching this at home and you are a Republican member of Congress, consider the fact that, when the sun sets on your career and they are writing your story — of all the good and bad things you did in your life — the thing you will be remembered for is whether, in this moment, with this president, you found the courage to stand up to him, or you continued to put party over country.

Some other takeaways: Tough night for the moderates ... Beto O'Rourke vanished ... No one mentioned Joe Biden by name.

What's next: The fun continues tonight on CNN at 8 p.m. ET with 10 more candidates.

  • To try to make up for Biden's shortcomings last time, some of his prep sessions (though not exclusively) have been with smaller groups of advisers, with aides asking him what he thinks instead of over-prepping and jamming his head.

Go deeper: 4 big moments from the debate

Go deeper

SpaceX capsule carrying astronauts docks with space station

The Crew Dragon just before docking on Sunday. Photo: NASA TV

SpaceX's Crew Dragon safely delivered two NASA astronauts — Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — to the International Space Station on Sunday after the company's historic launch Saturday.

Why it matters: This marks the first time a private company has delivered people to the space station and it signals the beginning of the end of NASA's reliance on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for flights to orbit.

Minnesota AG: Prosecution of officer in George Floyd case shouldn't be rushed

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison cautioned in an interview on "Fox News Sunday" that the case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer involved in the death of George Floyd, is "very early in the process" and that charges could be amended or added.

Why it matters: Chauvin was arrested last week and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, which implies that he did not intend to kill Floyd. Some protestors have demanded more severe charges and Floyd's family has asked Ellison to serve as a special prosecutor in the case.

Robert O'Brien: "I don't think there's systemic racism" in law enforcement

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that he doesn't believe there is "systemic racism" among law enforcement in the U.S., arguing that there are "a few bad apples" that are giving police a bad name.

Why it matters: The mass protests that have swept across the United States are not just a response to the death of George Floyd, but of the dozens of high-profile instances of unarmed black men dying at the hands of police officers over the years.