The Democratic Party’s two leading progressive presidential candidates — U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — easily won the first night of the second round of debates by dominating the discussion and easily countering attacks from more moderate politicians, longtime political consultant Rebecca Katz told The Post.
“It’s fitting that Warren and Sanders got the final word, because in the end, they were the candidates who set the tone of this debate from start to finish, and they’re the candidates that voters are going to remember,” Katz said, declaring the race’s two highest profile progressives as Tuesday night’s winners. “Not the critics, not the candidates who said what we can’t do, but the two progressives with a vision for what we can accomplish.”
The progressive strategist served as a top aide to former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and helped engineer Mayor Bill de Blaiso’s come from behind wins for Public Advocate in 2009 and City Hall in 2013. More recently, Katz was the top strategist on Cynthia Nixon’s 2018 insurgent campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
– U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont): He was once again the center of attention, the candidate that nearly everyone else on stage was asked to respond to. He “wrote the damn bill” and was able to make key points for his candidacy.
– U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts): Her response to former Congresman John Delaney — and by extension, every moderate running for president — was one of the standout moments of the night. Bernie shined the first half on the night on Medicare for All. Warren shined the second half on everything else.
– Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas): Last time he looked like a nervous prom date. This time he looked like he deserved to be on the stage. He was quite strong on the devastating impacts on the legacy of slavery.
– Gov. Steve Bullock (Montana): In his first debate, Bullock got to make the first opening statement — guaranteeing an audience that’s 20 times his state’s population. He had nowhere to go but up, and that’s what he did.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio): You would think he’d have nowhere to go but up. And yet Sanders destroyed him on healthcare. It was painful to watch.
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (Colorado): If he’s the face of centrists, the progressives will be in good shape. Hick had no memorable lines and he attacked popular Democratic initiatives, like the Green New Deal. He probably had the worst night of all the candidates.
Former Rep. John Delaney (Maryland): The good news is Americans saw an awful lot of John Delaney. The bad news is Americans saw an awful lot of John Delaney.
– Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Indiana): Delivered smart, prepared lines with skill. The style was there. It’s the substance that needs work. He rightly discussed structural changes needed for the Supreme Court, but there was very little else from him that had meat on the bone.
– U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota): Had a couple good moments, but not enough to move the dial. Instantly forgettable. She could’ve leaned in a bit more on her centrists positions, but she was hobbled by a stage full of moderates.
After departing City Hall, Katz founded New Deal Strategies, a political consulting firm for progressive candidates.
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