July 31 Debate Watch Party: Live Commentary & Analysis

July 31, 2019

After Tonight’s Debate We’ll Start Up the Next Round of Our Democratic Nomination Straw Poll

By Al Giordano

I’ve posted my recap of last night’s and preview of tonight’s debate on a different page here. This page is for watching tonight’s debate and commenting on it. Logged-in subscribers – last night you published 175 fantastic comments – will be able to comment tonight, too, but you must be logged in to do so and to read and respond to the comments of others here.

If you don’t have cable TV, no worries. You can watch the debate free at this link.

See you here at 8 p.m. ET.

7:35 p.m. ET: I love Tom Perez. Tonight he’s reminding that Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his “I have a dream” speech at the United Auto Workers headquarters in Detroit. “Am I the only one who misses Barack Obama in this room?” (Applause.) “And his wife?”

8:12 p.m. ET: Wait. Did Joe Biden really say to Kamala Harris when they shook hands, “Go easy on me, kid?”

8:13 p.m. ET: Bill de Blasio goes after Biden and Harris in his opening statement. “When I am president,” um, president of the New York City Council?

8:15 p.m. ET: If you close your eyes while Michael Bennett is talking he sounds like David Axelrod. It’s uncanny. I don’t even think he is from Stuyvesant Town!

8:16 p.m. ET: Did Anderson Cooper lend his glasses to Jay Inslee tonight? Or did the governor just sneak off with them?

8:17 p.m. ET: Kirsten Gillibrand. “If you want to get something done, just tell me it’s impossible.” Nice opener. Make a good first impression is a key to life.

8:19 p.m. ET: Tulsi Gabbard: “Donald Trump is not behaving like a patriot.” Also a solid introduction.

8:20 p.m. ET: Julián Castro being Obamaesque. “Make America better than its ever been.”

8:21 p.m. ET: Andrew Yang. “Amazon is closing 30 percent of America’s stores and malls… the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.” Nice.

8:22 p.m. ET: Cory Booker addresses the Trump v. Baltimore dustup and gets heckled. (What were those people chanting before they got escorted out? I couldn’t tell.) “We need to heal as a nation and move forward… the call to this election is to unite in common cause and common purpose. That’s how we will beat Donald Trump…”

8:24 p.m. ET: Kamala Harris: “And fight of course we will.”

8:26 p.m. ET: Joe Biden: “Mr. President, this is America…. We love it, we are not leaving it, we are here to stay and we’re certainly not leaving it to you.”

8:30 p.m. ET: You know who is winning this health care debate between Biden and Harris? Elizabeth Warren, that’s who. Because this debate is about who voters think can get it done and neither of them showed anything like that. It came off as petty and small by both of them. And I hate saying that because they’re both better than that. But there’s a vibe of pettiness that drags them both down in this moment.

8:33 p.m. ET: Gillibrand rules with this answer telling a story about a sick kid. More of that please. So far she’s having the best debate.

8:34 p.m. ET: Harris vs. Biden continues not working for either of them. It feels too personal. Nobody wants that. They both need to turn the page from what sounds like a grudge match.

8:37 p.m. ET: Nice moment for Booker. While Tulsi throws shade on Obamacare. Somebody bang the gong, please.

8:39 p.m. ET: Biden and Harris talking policy, once again, is in the shadow of Warren talking policy more convincingly. I think this could become a thing going forward.

8:41 p.m. ET: Castro doing like Gillibrand and telling family health care story. Yes, that’s how to do it.

8:42 p.m. ET: Michael Bennett’s attack on Kamala Harris’ health care plan is a reminder that it’s no fun to be a frontrunner.

8:48 p.m. ET: Not a rhetorical question: Are any of the people on this stage better at talking about health care than Senator Warren? If so, I haven’t yet seen them show it.

8:49 p.m. ET: I don’t know what I think about Harris’ “I’m angry” moment with Bernie style finger shaking. What do y’all think about that?

8:55 p.m. ET: Almost an hour into this has anybody on stage measurably improved his or her numbers of supporters? Maybe a slight tick for Gillibrand, Castro and Booker but this so far is a dumpster fire for Biden and Harris. Hope they can recapture their footing in hour two.

8:57 p.m. ET: Oh god. Julian with the knives out again and he just gutted Biden. It’s like that Wim Wenders (correction: Jim Jarmusch!) movie, Dead Man: “His name is William Blake. He used to be a poet and a painter. Now he kills the white man.” Very impressive. Making a case to be Kamala or Elizabeth’s VP.

9 p.m. ET: Cory Booker very good on this distinction between civil and criminal courts, bringing it back to stories. Kamala needs to sit back and let Cory and Julian fillet Joe for her.

9:04 p.m. ET: I’ll say this for Joe. He is not appearing frail like last time. Good thing this isn’t the NFL with mandatory testing for steroids. Unless someone can hit him in a way that causes him to look old and in the way he may emerge from this debate with his lead intact.

9:06 p.m. ET: Biden finally has a good moment/smackdown of de Blasio saying what the VP tells the POTUS is not for public discussion. I don’t know why Cory is doubling down on that.

9:07 p.m. ET: Gillibrand not ready for a question, improvises. Missed opportunity.

9:09 p.m. ET: Another problem with tonight’s debate will be revealed when the ratings come out. They’ll be bad. This was supposed to be the big draw night. But so far last night was far more interesting and productive for culling the flock toward a nominee. I honestly don’t know what purpose it would serve to continue having de Blasio, Bennett, Gabbard or Yang on future stages. Gillibrand I think has earned herself a pass to the next stage. She’s been major leaguing it.

9:14 p.m. ET: I told y’all Biden would be ready for Booker on criminal justice reform. Gillibrand has so far missed her big opening to hit Joe from a different direction.

9:17 p.m. ET: Problem for Biden is Booker was more ready for him. That was devastating for Biden. Point for Booker. And then Castro comes in for the kill.

9:19 p.m. ET: Jay Inslee seems like a totally decent, smart and moral guy. Unfortunately for him he is also uninspiring and boring.

9:21 p.m. ET: Seems like Kamala figured out to sit back and let the boys all kill each other. She’ll get a moment soon but she needed this breather.

9:22 p.m. ET: Oooh, the Gillibrand shade on de Blasio over the Garner case is going to be huge in NYC tabloids in the morning.

9:25 p.m. ET: Here’s a question for y’all. It’s known that I’m practically conductor on the hype train that this race comes down to Harris and Warren as the two finalists. Is Kamala helping herself in that contest tonight? Or has she gotten stuck in the reeds of the grudge match with Biden swamp?

9:27 p.m. ET: Oh god, Tulsi going after Kamala.

9:29 p.m. ET: Kamala is right on the facts in her rebuttal to Tulsi but I fear she is getting dragged down to Gabbard’s level, which is not a good place.

9:34 p.m. ET: I have to say one of the small number of candidates who has improved his standing tonight is Julian Castro. He’s showing himself as ready for prime time.

9:37 p.m. ET: Gillibrand is also having a good night. She spoke to Detroit. I’m surprised more candidates on both nights haven’t done that.

9:43 p.m. ET: More Gillibrand. She’s getting some traction.

9:47 p.m. ET: I’m really liking Castro tonight. Much nicer guy when Beto isn’t on stage!

9:52 p.m. ET: Tulsi Gabbard is an ancillary piece of disinformation I don’t need.

9:59 p.m. ET: So who makes the cut on the next round of our straw poll?

I’m thinking it is: Biden, Warren, Harris, Sanders, Buttigieg, O’Rourke, Booker, Castro, Klobuchar, Gillibrand. Anybody else really have a shot at the nomination? Speak now or forever hold your discontent!

10:04 p.m. ET: Nobody in the comments has taken me up on my provocation. Let me ask again. Is Elizabeth Warren the real winner of this debate? My sense is polls in the next week may agree with that.

10:09 p.m. ET: Okay, here comes the Gillibrand v Biden moment. This could be your last shot, Senator. Use it well.

10:11 p.m. ET: Gillibrand: “Four out of ten women have to work.” So true.

10:12 p.m. ET: Biden, give him credit, was ready for this question.

10:13 p.m. ET: And Kamala walks through the hole that Kirsten opened up. Mention Kirsten’s name and guarantee her a chance to tag team.

10:14 p.m. ET: Joe was ready for it. He survives this debate. More good news for Elizabeth Warren because Bernie is on an oxygen tank right now and Joe will continue capping Harris’ ceiling.

10:15 p.m. ET: And that may have been Gillibrand’s last shot on a debate stage. I’ll still include her in the straw poll here but I don’t see how she moved the meter tonight to boost her low dollar fundraising to be able to survive to the next debate. She had an opportunity to break through. She didn’t succeed at taking it. But she’s a good US Senator and that ought to be enough.

10:17 p.m. ET: Andrew Yang has also been an interesting side show but I think this is the night we bid him good luck and good night. Time to cull the herd.

10:23 p.m. ET: Presidential candidates should all endorse impeachment. The Speaker of the House and a majority of US House members should hold the line against walking into that trap. I support both groups.

10:25 p.m. ET: Thank you Michael Bennett. LET’S SPEAK TRUTH!

10:31 p.m. ET: I am really looking forward to the focus group results from this one. I think this debate did change the dynamics of the contest but not in a way that significantly benefited anyone on tonight’s stage. But I could be wrong.

10:32 p.m. ET: How did this guy get elected mayor of New York. He comes off more like mayor of Hoboken.

10:33 p.m. ET: I admit I like Mike Bennett, my fellow cancer survivor.

10:35 p.m. ET: Governor Inslee, please remember to return Anderson Cooper’s glasses before you leave the stage.

10:36 p.m. ET: Kirsten is a good candidate, better than I thought she’d be, but she’s no Kamala or Elizabeth. Sometimes in politics it’s time to cut bait.

10:38 p.m. ET: George McGovern was a peace candidate. Dennis Kucinich was a peace candidate. Tulsi Gabbard is a gas lighter posing as a peace candidate.

10:40 p.m. ET: We love you Julian. “Say adios to Donald Trump.”

10:41 p.m. ET: Andrew Yang, the only reason you are on this stage is that it’s a reality TV show. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

10:43 p.m. ET: Cory Booker is a great leader but better than Harris or Warren?

10:45 p.m. ET: Harris making her case as a prosecutor. Maybe she should have started with that tonight instead of getting into a Twister board with Biden? Just a thought.

10:47 p.m. ET: Joe Biden clearly happy he survived tonight. Another reason Warren won this debate. Because she kind of put Bernie away last night. And Kamala still has to go through Joe.

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