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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

5 Takeaways From The 1st Democratic Debate

 June 27, 2019 at 10:22 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The raise for 2020 began last night with the first of what will be many Democratic candidate debates. 10 candidates took the stage. Senator Elizabeth Warren, former representative Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Governor Jay Inslee, representative Tulsi Gabard, former representative John Delaney, former housing and urban development secretary Julio [inaudible]. Representative Tim Ryan and Mayor Bill De Blasio. It was definitely a full house. The issues discussed included immigration, healthcare, economic inequality, some discussion on climate change, but not a lot about President Donald Trump. Joining me to analyze last night's debate are will Rodriguez Kennedy, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party. And we'll welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. Marine. And joining us by Skype is Reuben. Never read a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writer's group. Reuben, welcome. Thank you for having me. Now we'll, what stood out to you during the two hour debate last night? Um, well I think, uh, one of those stand out performances was Lillian customer, the former health and human services secretary of Miriam Antonio, San Antonio. Um, I think his performance was definitely above expertise expectations. I think Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker did had strong performances and what also stood out is that we have a lot more candidates than we probably need to for that type of format. And Ruben, did you see a contrast to 20 fifteens debate with 17 Republican candidates? Speaker 2: 01:33 Yes. You know what? It's going to be interesting, I think when you've got 10 candidates on stage one night, another 10 candidates tonight, really when you boil it all down after commercials and all the moderators in their commentary, there's been an analysis this morning that each of the candidates only had nine or 10 minutes. What they need to do in that short time period was to show commander the issues, tell their story, and preferably draw a contrast with someone else on stage. And I would agree with will Julio Castro by all accounts did that no sooner had the curtain fallen. Then the new republic had its story out headline Julio on Castro wins the debate. I spend about an hour on Twitter and it was one social comment after another on social media saying Castro had come off the winter. So I think had a very good night and a and Democrats in general, some of them at least accomplish the goal of getting noticed. Speaker 1: 02:21 We have a clip of a former housing secretary, Julio Castro. Here. He is answering a question about what he do with regard to u s immigration policy. If he were president today, Speaker 3: 02:32 if I were president today, I would sign an executive order that would get rid of Trump's zero tolerance policy, the remain in Mexico policy and the metering policy. Speaker 1: 02:42 And that was Julio on Custo. Well, oh, what did you think about the stances on immigration that you heard last night in the debate? I think Holian customer who again comes from Texas where the, this issue like San Diego is very, um, important. I think you could sell that he had the strongest command of that issue. Particularly he on numerous occasion was referring specifically to a Paul to policies that he would enact or remove, um, as, as president should he be elected. I believe the policy he cited was section 13, 25, um, which he then challenged the other candidates to either sign on or to commit to repealing that policy. I think that's very important because that I think he was the only candidate who was doing that specifically on the immigration issue. Well, you surprised Reuben, uh, about how much attention was paid to the issue of immigration. Speaker 2: 03:36 Not really. If you take a look at what we've been talking about in the news business for the last two weeks, two months, uh, and for years on end, the terrible picture we saw the AP picture that everybody's talking about and the drown father and daughter, it's clearly top of mind. It's ironically one of the things that the right wingers and the left wingers both agree on that we have a crisis on the border. The, the left sees it as a humanitarian crisis, the right season as a, as a security crisis. But clearly it is an issue that is top of mine. And I think I agree with will that one of the things that Julio did effectively, he speaks as a lawyer. This is the guy who went to Harvard law school and he just beat on Beto O'Rourke for not doing his homework and literally hit bet though in his soft spot, which is, hey pal, you can only get so far in life on grants and good hair. You know, you gotta do your homework and Bethel got caught flat footed. So I think that was a very effective moment. Speaker 1: 04:28 One of the things Beto O'Rourke and Julio and Castro and one other candidate agreed on is that they should be speaking Spanish. Speaker 4: 04:37 This is heath, almost [inaudible] persona in Westboro. Democrazia situates you want to order his inacceptable Eso. It was too. Lando port precedented style to me though. Speaker 1: 04:47 So Ruben, what's the strategy behind that? Speaker 2: 04:50 If I go back all the way to 1988 during the Democratic convention, Michael Dukakis speaking Spanish, Latinos have always wanted as part of the democratic coalition to be acknowledged, uh, preferably by both parties. But at least by Democrats to say that we're part of the coalition speaking Spanish can be an overture in that regard. Last night it was a bit over done. Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke and Julio Castro all spoke some Spanish. I've heard from a lot of Mexican Americans who feel that when you cross the line it becomes more like pandering a if it's not sincere or seen as sincere. Um, but it's, it's still a nice gesture and it's important that somebody, you know, make an acknowledgement to this important part of the Democrat coalition. Speaker 1: 05:29 Robin, do you see anything about the messages last night that could appeal? Well, I won't say to Republicans, but to independence. Speaker 2: 05:36 Not a lot. I mean there is the same sort of push in the Democratic Party now that there was in the Republican party four years ago, the Republican Party sprinted to the right with positions that were far out of the mainstream, a and far too reactionary for many Americans. And now the Democratic Party is likewise doing the same. Not many people are prepared for what Julio on Castro talked about, you know, government funded abortions for transgender women, independent of whether or not I agree with that or you agree with that. It's hard to sell that in Iowa and Michigan and Wisconsin where they're talking about, you know, Lunchbucket issues. It's significant to me that the person who's leading the polls still with Joe Biden by a healthy margin, uh, and Biden is someone who is seen as more on the moderate and conservative side of the party. So the Democratic Party is in a very peculiar place right now. I write a lot about how the Republican party is a mess, a disaster area. But the same is true for will's party. The Democratic Party doesn't know what it wants to be right now. It can't quite figure out whether it wants to look backward with the Mueller report and Russia interference or look forward. I would simply like to see something from the Democratic Party about addressing economic issues in the rust belt states that they lost to Donald Trump and I haven't seen it yet. Speaker 1: 06:49 Okay. So that's what Ruben would like to see a guest tonight as Biden, Sanders, Harrison booty judge, and the others at a have a second debate. What would you like to see? Well, well, I disagree with a lot of that. I think Democrats do have a message for the environment when we're talking about a green economy. Um, we, we know that Elizabeth Warren basically has a plan for everything including, uh, her, her keystone issue, which is economic issues. Um, so I think, uh, it's important to pay attention to those, but in these smaller debates we're not getting as much focus on any one issue. So that's why you're not hearing it. I think when we narrow down the candidates, you will hear more of that. Um, in terms of what I would like to see, um, I, I want to see a little bit less of the sort of buzzwords and the sort of a focus on what exactly, um, their proposals are. Speaker 1: 07:37 There's a lot of communication about values and, and, and telling stories. Um, which is good from an organizing perspective, but not exactly good from a political perspective in terms of reaching out to Americans across, uh, the middle of the country. So I guess we would have find some agreement there, uh, with me and Ruben. So if they could focus a little bit more on that, that would probably be helpful. But with this type of, with this many candidates and that small of a timeframe, it's really difficult to do that. Okay. Gentlemen, I've been speaking with will Rodriguez Kennedy, who's chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, and Reuben never read Tay Syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. I want to thank you both very much. Thank you for having us. Thank you.

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If you're a Democratic voter, did you come away with a clear feeling of who of that first batch of 10 candidates could be president — and is best positioned to take on President Trump?
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