December 19 Debate Watch Party with Live Analysis & Commentary

December 19, 2019

Debate Will Be Aired on PBS, CNN & Multiple Online Venues at 8 p.m. ET

By Al Giordano

Note: Logged-in subscribers will be able to comment backstage and vote in our post-debate straw poll. Not yet a subscriber? Subscribe for 2020 with a $70 donation to the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism and you’ll get full access here at Organize & Win and the rest of 2019’s content free as a bonus. On January 1, the annual subscription rate goes up to $80 so act now to get the discount!

Where to watch:

“The debate will be carried live by local PBS stations and will be simulcast on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español, and livestreamed across numerous PBS NewsHour, POLITICO and CNN’s digital and social platforms including:,,  and; on mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android, via CNNgo and PBS video apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV; SiriusXM Channels 116, 454, 795; and on PBS NewsHour and POLITICO’s Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts.”

Candidates on Stage:

Candidates on stage are, left to right, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer.


Moderators are PBS’ Judy Woodruff, Yamiche Alcindor and Amna Nawaz plus Politico’s Tim Alberta.

Next Debate & Primary Dates:

The next debates will be in Iowa on Tuesday, January 14 (Iowa caucuses on Monday, February 3), New Hampshire on Friday, February 7 (NH primary on Tuesday, February 11), Nevada on Wednesday, February 19 (caucus on Saturday, February 22) and in South Carolina on Tuesday, February 25 (primary on Saturday February 29). Super Tuesday (13 states and territories plus Democrats Abroad) will happen three days later on Tuesday, March 3. By then 38 percent of convention delegates will have been chosen based on proportional representation of the votes cast at the state and Congressional District level.

Remember, once the debate begins, to refresh this page regularly to see my play-by-play observations and updates.

Logged-in subscribers will be able to submit comments backstage (make sure to read the comment guidelines first!), read those by others, and vote once the debate is over in our December Democratic nomination straw poll. Since the straw poll was won last month by Kamala Harris, who is no longer in the contest, the results should be very interesting and perhaps indicative of where this thing is heading once the real voting starts.

Back with you at 8 p.m. ET!

7:15 p.m. ET: It’s still 45 minutes prior to the debate but I wanted to bring your attention to the news that Nate Silver’s 538 has teamed up with Ipsos to poll Democratic primary voters before and after the debate at this link, so we’ll get some pretty quick data from that as to whether and, if so, how the events on stage shape public opinion.

7:35 p.m. ET: I confess that the debate stage design reminds me of the “Think Pink” scene from the musical, Funny Face. I wonder if any candidates will be bold enough to come out color coordinated!

8 p.m. ET: And here we go! Welcome everybody!

8:08 p.m. ET: The first answers in response to the impeachment question are on message for each candidate. Biden: Electability (“My job is to make the case to the public.”). Sanders: “Working class.” Warren: “Corruption.”

8:12 p.m. ET: Andrew Yang with the best open in response to same impeachment question. “It’s clear why we don’t agree on this. We’re getting our ‘news’ from different sources.”

8:15 p.m. ET: Oh, wow. Bernie Sanders won’t vote for the trade agreement endorsed by the AFL-CIO “even though it has some good things in it.” Amy Klobuchar swoops in and drops Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown’s name saying she’ll vote with him – “who has voted against every other free trade agreement” – in favor of it. Let’s see what the rest say.

8:28 p.m. ET: It’s not easy to get a handle on how to comment on this one. The impeachment question was a waste of time – we already know they are all for it – and the highbrow prigs at PBS just are making it all sound so academic. Hopefully over the break they’ll recalibrate and create space to draw some real contrast between candidates.

8:32 p.m. ET: Tom Steyer continues to be an ancillary piece of information I don’t need. He bought his way onto the stage by gaming the qualifying rules. Something that needs to be tweaked going forward. He needs to go and I’m so far not seeing that Andrew Yang is paying his rent worthy of that debate space. I know some people want more candidates on stage. I’d like to see a debate with just the remaining five after those two.

8:35 p.m. ET: Biden making a big point to raise both hands high off the podium, no doubt in contrast to the guy to his left (our right) clasping onto his podium like it’s a walker. Even when Bernie’s finger goes wagging the other hand mostly clings to that podium.

8:38 p.m. ET: As one who managed the referendum campaign in Massachusetts – first ever! In 1982 – that effectively prevented construction of new nuclear power plants there, I’m glad to see its US Senator ratify that position.

8:40 p.m. ET: God bless Amy Klobuchar. On a question on climate change she shoehorns in a plug for “someone on top of the ticket who is from the midwest.”

8:42 p.m. ET: Tom Steyer is talking. Guess it’s a good moment to refresh our drinks!

8:44 p.m. ET: Biden’s answer that “no one has more reason to dislike the Republicans than me, what they’ve said about me, my family” is well received by the audience.

8:45 p.m. ET: Andrew Yang wakes up with the suggestion that Cory Booker will make it back on stage. And takes it to message, “If we have a freedom dividend then I guarantee that I won’t be the only person of color on stage.”

8:47 p.m. ET: Sanders typically steps on a question about race and racism and acts like it never happened until he is called out on it. That’s a 2016 level “tell.”

8:48 p.m. ET: Another great sound bite from Klobuchar, this one about not erasing voter rolls by comparing voting to being a lifetime member of a church. Bravo.

8:51 p.m. ET: What? Nobody is missing Tulsi on stage?

8:52 p.m. ET: That sound you hear is not just the dial tone of his novelty wearing off: it’s the sound of the air hissing out of the tires on the Pete Buttigieg bump. Unless he finds a moment tonight he is in real risk of that. In the words of the immortal B.B. King: The thrill is gone.

8:54 p.m. ET: Elizabeth Warren segueing from a question on Guantanamo into a foreign policy vision of using diplomacy was a good moment, and it shows why 200+ former Obama administration officials endorsed her today.

8:55 p.m. ET: Biden: “I think that Senator Warren is correct.”

8:56 p.m. ET: Pete Buttigieg talking about “the use of technology on behalf of dictatorship” might be better addressed to Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of his Silicon Valley supporters.

9:02 p.m. ET: Amy Klobuchar in a very human way is making an electability pitch by making us imagine her dismantling Trump’s fragile ego on a debate stage. She’s having a good debate so far.

9:03 p.m. ET: Klobuchar: “I just want to make it very clear, uh, mayor.” Oh, snap! Also reminding the press corps that she’s the daughter of a journalist is never a bad move.

9:05 p.m. ET: I think the debate itself recovered in Act Two from a terribly boring Act One before the first break. I liked that segment a lot. Buttigieg and Sanders have each had some bad moments. Klobuchar and Yang, some good ones. Biden and Warren on message, neither falling nor rising yet. They’re the two with Teflon so far. Bring on Act Three!

9:12 p.m. ET: Oh my, the Obama on women and old men question! Ha ha ha ha ha.

9:13 p.m. ET: Wait. Did I hear that right? What did Bernie Sanders say, interrupting, in response to the age question? I know what I thought I heard but I can’t believe it.

9:16 p.m. ET: Oh my, Bernie really did blurt out, “And I’m white, too!” and then he turned red! Bye, Felicia.

9:17 p.m. ET: “I’d also be the youngest woman ever elected.” That will make the evening news.

9:19 p.m. ET: Warren shushing the moderator was impressive. The moderator shutting up. Twice. Priceless.

9:20 p.m. ET: Buttigieg making a case for raising big dollars. Might work to take away some white Biden voters.

9:21 p.m. ET: “And served $900-a-bottle wine… Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.”

9:22 p.m. ET: Buttigieg pleading that as a Notre Dame faculty brat he is poor is not a good look.

9:23 p.m. ET: Give me more Buttigieg v Warren. This is a debate!

9:25 p.m. ET: Amy: “I have never been to a wine cave.”

9:26 p.m. ET: Klobuchar had a GREAT moment there and then Bernie comes in and recites his 2016 greatest hits about how many donors he has.

9:30 p.m. ET: This is the first debate where Yang is showing why so many people like him so much. Practice has apparently helped.

9:32 p.m. ET: How they can ask Bernie Sanders about immigration reform legislation without asking him why he voted against Ted Kennedy’s 2007 bill is journalistic malpractice.

9:34 p.m. ET: Klobuchar brings up that very vote! “Most Democrats voted for that. Not all did.” Ouch!

9:38 p.m. ET: I’m really interested to see our straw poll after this debate. I’ll get it up within minutes of the debate’s end and put a link up on this page to the new one.

9:40 p.m. ET: Amy is definitely channeling Cory tonight. But then goes for Mayor Pete’s jugular!

9:41 p.m. ET: Oh shit. She’s killing him.

9:42 p.m. ET: “Hurt feelings Pete” is so off message. Watch his poll numbers after tonight.

9:50 p.m. ET: I kind of feel like this image will be one of the remembered moments of this night…

9:54 p.m. ET: Warren: Y’all are talking about special needs children? “I was a special education teacher.”

9:55 p.m. ET: Amy is having a great debate. The question is: Who’s supporters is she poaching tonight in Iowa? Who she takes from will impact horse race.

9:58 p.m. ET: Bernie Sanders really does not like being asked questions by Yamiche Alcindor. Remember, she’s who reported about the menu with “lobster sliders” on the flight to Rome in April 2016 when he went to seek a photo op with the Pope.

10:02 p.m. ET: Wait. Did Biden just throw Obama under the bus on Afghanistan? And give Sanders an opening to whack his Iraq war vote? And then the moderator asks Sanders about his vote on Afghanistan. Heh.

10:05 p.m. ET: I like these moderators in Act II and Act III. I like this debate with fewer people on stage. We are finally getting contrast and giving people enough rope to show us who they really are.

10:10 p.m. ET: I also love watching Statler and Waldorf argue!

10:11 p.m. ET: Hang on tight to that podium, man!

10:12 p.m. ET: Mom! “You can be progressive and practical at the same time.”

10:13 p.m. ET: “She took my name in vain.” No, nothing messianic about that. Nothing to see here.

10:15 p.m. ET: Warren talks about real people’s stories. “I want to do the most good I can for the most people possible.” Very much channeling Barack Obama with this approach. And it’s on brand for her.

10:16 p.m. ET: I like the Dickensian final question! And that Yang is hawking his book by saying Warren is reading it.

10:17 p.m. ET: Pete: “Come to think of it I should send my book around, too.” Oof.

10:19 p.m. ET: “If I could walk 100,000 selfies, and I would take 100,ooo more.”

10:21 p.m. ET: Sanders: “I have four books.” These guys…

10:33 p.m. ET: Everybody is on brand with their closing statements. Y’all can draw your own conclusions. Meanwhile, we’ve posted the December post-debate straw poll already at this link. Over there, it’s your turn to speak. Let us – and the world – hear your voice. And thank you for joining us tonight and for all your terrific backstage comments.

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