Live Democratic Debate Analysis & Commentary

June 26, 2019

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By Al Giordano

First let’s see if we can embed the NBC TV stream from YouTube right here on this page…

Success! Welcome to Organize & Win’s very first live event! You can even watch the debate here.

Most of what I write in this space over the course of the evening will be viewable by the general public, but readers will have to refresh the page to see each new update.

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I’ll be back shortly before the debate begins at 9 p.m. ET to start. See you then.

Remember to click “refresh” and scroll down regularly to see updates, each of which will be preceded with the hour and minute it was posted…

8:01 p.m. ET: If you get here a little early and haven’t yet read Issue #81’s Debate Preview here’s a link to an excerpt (logged in subscribers can read the whole thing but also received it in the mail yesterday).

8:12 p.m. ET: I’ll be surprised if the first question out of the box tonight isn’t about immigration and the horrifying photo of a drowned father and daughter in the Rio Grande who died trying to cross that has dominated the news today. The question is: Which candidate gets it first? Beto? Julian? Elizabeth and Amy each went to the Homestead Detention Center outside Miami today, they’ll want a chance to weigh in, too. Cable news has led with that story all day so expect the same to happen at the debate. (And if I don’t mention someone by their first name they must be really far to the edges of the stage and I’m having a hard time telling which, because, you know, all white dudes in jackets and ties look alike.)

8:35 p.m. ET: From the Organize & Win Department of Be Prepared, we’ve checked the weather forecast near our mountain newsroom tonight and in the 9 p.m. ET hour there is a 95 percent chance of thundershowers here. Sometimes during those, electric power goes out for a while (and with it the Internet). But we’re prepared! I’ve got the NBC News app on my US cell phone, and have it 100% charged, to be able to keep watching the debate, and the control panel of Organize & Win on my Mexican cell phone, also fully charged, to be able to keep posting here. A battery charger stands ready and capable of charging five cell phone cycles. So unless we lose cell phone service as well, we’ll keep posting through rain or snow or sleet of night!

8:59 p.m. ET: We’re one minute to the official launch of the 2020 campaign. Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds forever be in your favor!

9:04 p.m. ET: Hey Elizabeth Warren, let’s toss you a softball by asking you about the economy and watch you hit it out of the park!

9:06 p.m. ET: Beto’s speaking Spanish! Someone told you that would happen! I worried it wasn’t really him, because he wasn’t standing on the podium, but it is!

9:09 p.m. ET: Cory seems to be walking back whatever statement it was that Guthrie was playing gotcha with him on. Guthrie tried to start a rumble between Booker and Warren but neither is taking the bait. A point for each of them!

9:12 p.m. ET: Julián gets the biggest applause from the crowd so far with “Pass the Equal Rights Amendment!”

9:16 p.m. ET: The crowd is cheering every candidate and nobody has so far taken the bait to attack someone else. Everybody is being smart! Wait, is this really the Democratic Party debate? This is really moving the goalposts for night two, where things may get more contentious, but everybody smart can see that the crowd wants positivity.

9:19 p.m. ET: Warren: “There’s a $21 billion dollar world market out there for green products. Let’s make them here.” (Sends emoji to AOC under the podium.)

8:21 p.m. ET: Klobuchar: “All foam and no beer.” Drink!

9:24 p.m. ET: De Blasio just became the first to go negative (vs. Beto) after Beto and Elizabeth showed themselves the most telegenic of the bunch so far, comfortable in their stage shoes. John Delaney shuts de Blasio down and gets wild cheers from the crowd. De Blasio’s decision to go negative backfired on him. Night Two candidates, take notes!

9:28 p.m. ET: Warren is showing that the problem was never Bernie Sanders’ positions, the problem was Bernie Sanders.

9:29 p.m. ET: Amy for the win! Defending the women on stage. Inslee really stepped on that rake.

9:30 p.m. ET: Julián is winning the woke primary so far with that intersectionality public service announcement.

9:33 p.m. ET: First ad break. Aaaaaand NBC just pulled the ability to embed its YouTube livestream in other web pages like this one. Here’s the link to watch it live there if you were watching it here. Just open up another window to use if you don’t want to leave this page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ6MrDO0kgY

9:35 p.m. ET: José Diaz-Balart raises the immigration issue and tosses the first ball to Julián, who says, “the photo was heartbreaking. It also pisses us all off.” Wild crowd applause. Julián is having a good debate.

9:38 p.m. ET: Cory with the Spanish licks! Bravo!

8:29 p.m. ET: You know, this is a great field of candidates.

9:42 p.m. ET: Castro after having a great debate so far goes after O’Rourke . He keeps interrupting his answer. I don’t think that’s a good look. He may lay a punch on Beto but at the expense of a self-inflicted wound at the same moment. The Democratic primary voters don’t want that kind of rancor.

9:49 p.m. ET: Cory Booker just had one of the best moments of anyone in the debate with his rap about criminalizing people’s problems. That’s what I love about him.

9:52 p.m. ET: While people talk about Iran and, before it, bickered over immigration, Warren keeps her powder dry. She is waiting for an economy question again. She understands which issues are her bailiwick real estate and that it’s what most voters care most about. One of my questions coming in was whether she would wear the frontrunner label well. Oh Yeah, she wears it well and it’s a union label!

9:55 p.m. ET: Another sign that Castro going after O’Rourke was a mistake: The Beto campaign’s much larger email list just got a blast from its more muscular campaign team underlining, “In debate, Beto underscores the urgency of fixing our immigration system and ending harmful practices that create chaos in our communities.” No email from the Castro camp. He picked a fight with someone who is going to beat him before the spin room closes on this issue.

10:01 p.m. ET: Organize & Win on its maiden voyage is having a better tech night than NBC, which has been around for more than 65 years!

10:05 p.m. ET: While NBC continues its looooong break fixing its tech issues one of our commentators backstage noted, “That proves my theory that Chuck Todd ruins everything.” If you’re not subscribing, you’re missing the best stuff!

10:09 p.m. ET: Elizabeth Warren speaking nuance to Chuck Todd reveals a greater abyss than the Spanish speakers speaking it to English-only speakers.

10:17 p.m. ET: De Blasio takes a swing at… wait for it… Mayor Pete! Who is not even on stage, with a reference to the recent police shooting “in Indiana.”

10:20 p.m. ET: Elizabeth has a plan for Yertle the Turtle. Of course she does. And her answer to that question just pulled more votes away from Sanders. She’s like a heat seeking missile dismantling even the tiny slice he has left. Because her plan on how to fight and win is better. Because she has, wait for it, Organized and Won already.

10:29 p.m. ET: De Blasio, Ryan and Delaney are making a very strong case for why they don’t belong on this stage. Kudos to Inslee for not falling into the same trap. But for the others, bring out the gong already!

10:37 p.m. ET: Notice how Warren doesn’t try to intervene on any issue that is not on her turf (she owns the economy turf, which includes health care and other things as related, so why use up her limited time on those other things?). She’s behaving, dare I say, presidentially. She shows patience, restraint, strategy, she picks her shot. Has anybody else on this stage been as presidential? I ask that as a serious, non-rhetorical question.

10:40 p.m. ET: I find Tulsi annoying but she’s having a good debate. Not as good as some of the A-listers, but is certainly beating expectations. And she hasn’t gone negative on others. A point for that.

10:44 p.m. ET: I may have to raise Tulsi Gabbard to the one percent threshold to put her on our odds list, and take a point away from Sanders to do it. But let’s see how Bernie does tomorrow night, first.

10:46 p.m. ET: Even when Delaney says something I agree with (re: “I’m with Nancy Pelosi on impeachment and no 2020 candidate knows better than she”) he is annoying about how he says it. Bzzzzt. Next!

10:49 p.m. ET: The backbenchers are doing their best to get in some face time before the gong bangs but you know that after this break it’s closing time, they get closing statements, and all eyes and ears will be on the A-listers.

10:52 p.m. ET: Tim Ryan: “There’s nothing worse than not being heard, than not being seen.” No, Tim, there is something worse: being on national TV in front of millions and no matter what you say you are still not able to communicate well enough to be seen or heard even when given the opportunity.

10:57 p.m. ET: I thought Amy’s close was very strong, better than her debate until that moment.

10:58 p.m. ET: Cory: “It’s a referendum on Trump but it’s also a referendum on us.” Like his fellow Jersey guy Walt Whitman he’s a real poet. I like him.

11:00 p.m. ET: Beto’s close was strong. Elizabeth’s was a grand slam home run. It’s a great field. The Julian v Beto flap now has to be settled in the spin room and via free media.

11:06 p.m. ET: A lot of cable news attention is being given in the post-game show to the Julián v Beto dustup (which was, as one who very closely follows the immigration law issues, quite at the margins of it) but I may have gotten it wrong earlier tonight when I thought Castro had hurt himself by going negative. He seems to get a bounce out of it. What I’ll want to see is in the next three weeks if it moves the polling meter for him among Latino voters – or not. To be real, it has to move the meter. It might.

11:12 p.m. ET: There seems to be no disagreement among the pundits that this was Elizabeth Warren’s debate. Van Jones – again, caveat emptor with the source – got a chuckle out of me when he said, “It was like professor Warren with all her students taking her class.”

11:48 p.m. ET: At these hours I’m glad I live in Central Time zone. People are making a lot out of the Castro-O’Rourke dispute, but mark my words, let’s imagine that Castro grabs the Latino vote and can play in Nevada, and O’Rourke then drops out (again, this is pending actual poll results in the next few weeks, speculative until then), Castro will be campaigning enthusiastically for O’Rourke for US Senate. Or vice versa. This isn’t Bernie vs. Hillary. This is a family squabble.

12:06 a.m. ET: Julián Castro interviewed post-debate by Anderson Cooper on CNN did the one thing that nobody else (including him) had the good sense to do on stage: Ask people to go to juliancastro.com. He’ll get donors out of that. Sheesh. John Kerry understood to do that back in 2004. Why didn’t anybody do that in their closing statement from the debate stage?

12:18 a.m. ET: Live on CNN Elizabeth Warren is in the Spin Room interviewed live by Anderson Cooper, who complained she didn’t mention Donald Trump during the debate. “This election,” she said, “is bigger than Donald Trump.” She also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share her views from the stage, talked about her longtime friendship with Bernie Sanders without attacking him, and said, “everyone on that stage tonight is more qualified to be president than Donald Trump.” Her only two mentions of Trump tonight. “I have been able to listen to people in America because I don’t spend my time at fundraisers with big donors.” Aaaaaaand, wait for it… she just sent viewers to ElizabethWarren.com. “I’m not just talking about change. I’m running to change America.” All she needs at this point to become the next FDR is a Woody Guthrie! But that’s speculative. Let’s see what happens tomorrow night before we move the meters. But I bet one meter that moves before the June 30 deadline is her grassroots fundraising numbers. And the same for Julián Castro. Because they mentioned their websites!

12:32 a.m. ET: For what it’s worth, Julián just gave a live Spin Room interview with Fox News. So did Tim Ryan and John Delaney.

12:35 a.m. ET: De Blasio went on Fox News, too. (I watch so you don’t have to.)

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