I have just finished watching the Democrat presidential candidates debate which emanated from South Carolina and aired on NBC.
Given Bernie Sanders’ recent surge in the polls in Iowa, it was clear NBC did everything it could to stack the debate in favor of Hillary Clinton. The audience was stacked in favor of Hillary supporters while Andrea Mitchell interrogated Sanders (particularly for past criticisms of both Presidents Obama and Clinton). By contrast both she and Lester Holt asked softball questions of Hillary (i.e. what kind of advisor would former President Clinton be) and almost entirely ignoring Martin O’Malley. In fact, I was watching the debate with my Dad. When he saw O’Malley he asked, “Who is this guy?”
O’Malley did have one great moment when Holt informed the audience that Hillary would be getting 30 extra seconds, O’Malley chimed in by asking, “Can I have 30 seconds, too?” This drew him heavy applause. During the very last segment, Lester Holt said he was going to give an opportunity for candidates to say things they didn’t feel they had a chance to talk about. He drew laughter when he promptly turned his attention to O’Malley.
All things considered, however, this was Sanders’ best debate. He was in command of himself on domestic policy while Hillary spent most of the night on the defensive and sounding shrill. Bernie was out to sea on foreign policy, but then the same could be said of Hillary.
I think tonight’s debate performance will continue to give Bernie momentum in Iowa. Of course, Bernie could win Iowa and New Hampshire. But unless he has a breakthrough in Nevada, South Carolina and Florida, Hillary is going to be the nominee.
The next Democrat debate will take place on February 11th in Milwaukee, after the votes in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and air on PBS. If Sanders wins both Iowa and New Hampshire expect Hillary and the PBS moderators Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill to be even more vigorous against him. This debate will come ahead of the Nevada caucus and the South Carolina primary.