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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

6 Takeaways From The Nevada Democratic Debate

 February 20, 2020 at 10:24 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 The gloves came off last night in Las Vegas. The Democrats held their ninth presidential debate and there was a new candidate on the debate stage. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg faced attacks from all his rivals, but the other candidates also attacked each other and at moments it got personal. Joining me to talk about the fallout from last night's debate and where we go from here is Mesa college political science professor Carl Luna. Carl, welcome. Speaker 2: 00:27 Oh, thank you for having me. Speaker 1: 00:29 So with the Nevada caucuses set for this Saturday, it was definitely high stakes for all the candidates. Last night, former democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry called it a food fight. Michael Bloomberg faced attacks from all sides, but none more pointed than from Senator Elizabeth Warren. Let's listen to this. Speaker 3: 00:47 I like to talk about who we're running against. A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse faced lesbians. And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump. I'm talking about mayor Bloomberg. Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns of harassing women and of supporting racist policies like red lining and stop and frisk. Speaker 1: 01:17 So Carl and you know, reaction today is that Bloomberg didn't fare so well last night. Speaker 2: 01:23 I think that's generally a fair thing to state. I don't think he was as prepared going into that. What turned into an arena as they should have been. I mean this thing really could have been staged at Caesar's palace in the main ring. It was a bash Bloomberg attack and he should've been ready for that because he's now with all the money. He's spending more of a potential front runner, so they're going to try to take him down. And Warren really did kind of dominate that conversation. Speaker 1: 01:46 And the other main target on stage is the candidate that's way ahead in the national polls, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a new poll from the public policy Institute of California shows Sanders leading in the golden state with 32% support. And the next closest candidate is Joe Biden at 14%. How do you think Sanders did last night? Both with getting out his message and fending off attacks? Speaker 2: 02:10 I think he was in the C plus to B range. It wasn't his strongest performance, but since everybody was focusing more on Bloomberg, he kinda got a pass for that. Uh, he was a little bit weak talking about the health issue that came up. Uh, we were aggressive talking about his health care, but of course he's being attacked by Klobuchar and booted Chegg on the cost of it and all. I think he didn't come out any weaker and I think he's still riding the momentum though, South Carolina and Nevada. Uh, he probably won't do as well as he would like. Uh, the question is how things go into California and just how much cash does a mayor Bloomberg used to eradicate any memory of the Nevada debate. Speaker 1: 02:47 Hmm. And while Warren and Sanders battle for the support of the more progressive wing of the party, former mayor Pete, Buddha, judge and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar tried to consolidate the moderates. Here's Buddha judge lying the, the, the choice out in fairly stark terms here. Speaker 4: 03:04 We could wake up two weeks from today, the day after super Tuesday, and the only candidates left standing will be Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, the two most polarizing figures on this stage. And most Americans don't see where they fit. If they've got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power. Speaker 1: 03:30 So what's your thought on that? Speaker 2: 03:32 Well, I think that is the dilemma. The democratic party is in there. Buddha chicken pointed it out that just by deliberate design of Senator Sanders has positioned himself pretty far on the left of the democratic party. And it may be hard to reach to the center and Bloomberg if capitalism is the root of all evil and he's evil, I mean he comes from the, from the moneyed side and the more conservative side of the party. The problem is that central position Buddha, JAG and Klobuchar are fighting each other. And, uh, they had a lot of snarky remarks for each other last night and it's hard for them to consolidate the center. Meanwhile, the leader in the center, Joe Biden was kind of like a spectator at the whole event. Speaker 1: 04:08 Hmm. You know, at one point during the debate, the candidates were asked, you know, if someone walks into the convention with the most delegates but doesn't meet the threshold, does that automatically make them the nominee? Uh, everyone on the stage said no except Sanders. Uh, what does that indicate to you in terms of the candidates reaching a point where they get behind one candidate? Speaker 2: 04:30 Oh, it's telling me that, uh, Milwaukee is going to be much CTV this summer. Uh, we may have the possibility of going into the first political convention in decades in which you haven't resolved it before the convention actually gavels to order. Speaker 1: 04:44 So how do you see the debate impacting the Nevada caucuses this weekend? Speaker 2: 04:48 Well, most experts are saying that every, we'll only have about passing impact because a lot of the voting and the caucus is already being done. I, and you've got to kind of clear preferences from the party. People who show up at these caucuses. There's not a lot of independence as much as you have a committed to one candidate or another. I think the bigger impact will be looking at what happens after the South Carolina debate next week, followed by the South Carolina primary as we move rapidly into California and super Tuesday. Speaker 1: 05:16 Do you see the field narrowing further after Nevada? If so, who would you predict will drop out next? Speaker 2: 05:22 I don't think any of the candidates were on the stage last night would have a reason to be dropping out. I mean, you still have the Styers and the rest who are kind of peripherally in, I don't think they're there waiting for some catastrophic thing to take out. Some of the front runners. I don't see that happening, but I see the six last night as your final six going into super Tuesday and given how fluid this campaign has been, nobody is a definite lock. Everybody is one big mistake away from seeing a hunk of their support disappear, so everybody has a reason to stay in. Speaker 1: 05:53 I've been speaking with Mesa college, political science professor Carl Luna Kroll. Thank you so much for joining us. Speaker 2: 05:58 Thank you.

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It was former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first debate after spending more than $300 million on ads. He had an uneven performance, especially when it came to his record on women.
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