Debate Watch in a Time of Coronavirus: Live Coverage

March 15, 2020

Logged-in Subscribers Are Invited Backstage for Our Live ‘Self-Quarantine’ Debate Forum

By Al Giordano

The first – and probably last – mano-a-mano presidential debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders starts at 8 p.m. ET on CNN and Univision.

Here is the info for how to watch it online:

It will stream live in its entirety, without requiring log-in to a cable provider, on‘s homepage, across mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android, and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV, as well as Univision’s digital properties.

I’ll be back shortly, before the debate, and offer live commentary in this space. Remember to click “refresh” to see regular updates.

Logged-in subscribers will be adding your commentary and observations in our backstage forum.

If we’ve got to self-quarantine, let’s do it like they’re doing in Italy, from our windows and balconies – but together. Back with more shortly…

8:01 p.m. ET: Look at how far they are standing apart, due to the health precautions, and in the above photo, how far the CNN panelists are seated from each other. I hope you’re all doing okay out there. Here we go.

8:14 p.m. ET: First impressions: This is a high risk and low reward strategy Senator Sanders has embarked upon, visibly trying to use the coronavirus crisis to push a larger health care agenda. I don’t think he’s going to get the public response from that which he seems to be seeking. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden is keeping focus on the emergency, staying presidential.

8:20 p.m. ET: One thing Sanders is doing well, twice now, is raising the issues of what this means to vulnerable and real people hit by this. Now Biden is responding with the same approach. Smart of both of them.

8:26 p.m. ET: Two things that Biden has accomplished already in the first half-hour of the debate: Demonstrated that claims that he somehow suffers “dementia” are untrue, and refrained from taking the bait on letting this become a personalized conflict. It may be boring, but boring works at a time when people are stressed and want a return to normalcy.

8:30 p.m. ET: One irony I’ve noticed. Sanders’ repeated attempts to use the crisis to push broader agendas very much mirrors what his own supporter, Naomi Klein, wrote a whole book about how corporations do the same thing, “The Shock Doctrine.” This is not a good look at all.

8:40 p.m. ET: Interesting turn of the tables by Biden, essentially saying we can’t wait for a revolution, we need to do things now! Also the absolute truth.

8:48 p.m. ET: An old guy accusing another old guy of trying cut Social Security is that Gilbert & Sullivan level absurdity I talked about today in the newsletter. I guess we’re getting “Denial Bernie” more than “Bargaining Bernie” so far tonight. What’s next. “Malibu Bernie?”

8:56 p.m. ET: Now we’re on to “Resentment Bernie” and his anger stage of grief. A man who apparently feels in the twilight of his years that despite all the privilege and benefit he has received as a career US Senator and presidential candidate, he still did not achieve the deference and credit he believes he was entitled to get. Wow.

9:02 p.m. ET: One other clarity emerges here. Joe really doesn’t seem in any hurry for Bernie to get out of the race. It’s like the Harlem Globetrotters want to keep the Washington Generals around as convenient foil.

9:10 p.m. ET: Oh my. A “tell” from Biden. “I will pick a woman to be my vice president. There are a number of women who are already qualified to be president.” I believe that choice of words nudges the options down to three… or four (and I don’t mean Tulsi Gabbard).

9:17 p.m. ET: I’m so glad Sanders’ vote against Ted Kennedy’s 2007 Immigration Reform bill is finally out on the table. I was throwing things at the C-Span screen when it happened. And that’s the day that the young US Senator from Illinois’ eloquent advocacy for it caught my eye. It came so close to passing and Sanders and a handful of Democratic caucus members voted to kill it when we had enough GOP votes to pass it. Had that bill passed, it’s true that there would be six- to-eleven million new citizens today and Donald Trump never would have had a wedge issue to rise to power, and Texas would be blue.

9:33 p.m. ET: This isn’t the Kennedy-Nixon debate, nor the Harris-Warren debate many of us had wished for, but it’s still been instructive on various points and these are the cards we are dealt. At this point, the smart move will be from first to bring the theme back to coronavirus and what is on pressing on people’s minds today. Let’s see whether Statler or Waldorf figure that part out after 90 minutes.

9:42 p.m. ET: Did Bernie just end three sentences in a row with the phrase “you know?” I think I just got Malibu Bernie on my bingo card!

9:52 p.m. ET: “Biden has no money” is the best soundbite of the debate tonight. Effective because it’s true.

10:02 p.m. ET: Aaaaaand it’s a wrap. I’ll miss these debate watch parties. Y’all have been great and wise counsel throughout all this. I’m guessing there won’t be any more until the general election. But I’m thinking that as the health crisis escalates we’ll soon hold some ‘self-quarantine’ nights here just for subscribers. Thank you once more for being part of it. Onward and upward.

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