By Jeremy Perillo
Ahead of the last primary before Super Tuesday (March 3rd), the Democratic candidates for president are continuing to squabble with each other as South Carolina’s primary looms. Saturday will be the last chance for candidates to grab delegates and appease voters, before Super Tuesday, yielding over 1,300 delegates.
This week proved to be a busy one for the candidates, as the South Carolina debate and the CNN town halls put the candidates in a lot of limelight ahead of two crucial days for their campaigns. The debate, hosted by CBS, was held on Tuesday night, and the candidates were split up for the town halls on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
The town halls allowed candidates an hour to answer pressing questions on their campaigns from both CNN’s anchors and audience participants. Sanders was able to expand on his comments defending Fidel Castro’s literacy programs, which has made people on both sides of the aisle uncomfortable. As the continuing front runner in the race, it is not surprising that Sanders continues to take hits, something his campaign will have to withstand going into Super Tuesday.
The other candidates were able to make use of their hour-long town halls. Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer both wielded attacks against Sanders, sticking to their platforms and their records to assure voters that Sanders is not what America needs. Elizabeth Warren vowed to fight until the last moment to try and secure the party’s nomination. The question she was prompted asked why the candidate with a plurality of delegates shouldn’t receive the nomination – which would require Democratic superdelegates to vote on a second ballot.
Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg both faired well. Biden struck an emotional chord when bringing up his late wife and son, connecting with a pastor whose wife died in a church shooting last year. His reaction reminded some voters of why he was so loved in the Democratic party. Bloomberg’s opportunity to not be on a debate stage did him and his campaign good. He seemed comfortable and addressed some of the tough questions voters have for his candidacy.
While the town hall’s were tame and effective, Tuesday’s debate was nothing of the sort. The moderator’s inability to keep control over the candidates caused short shouting matches that would make (and probably did) Donald Trump smile. Regardless of the disruptions to the normal debate flow, most of the candidates performed well.
Each candidate had some good and bad parts of the debate with some having more bad moments than good. Unfortunately, with the attention on the food fight-like shouting matches that went down, much of the substantive moments will get overlooked by voters at a point where the Democratic party cannot afford another mishap.