What to Expect: Democratic Presidential Debate #1

(c) NBC New York

(c) NBC New York

It's almost that time!  Now that we've enjoyed two GOP shots at sense-making, it's the Democrats' turn to take each other on!  Tune in Tuesday October 13th on CNN and watch the fireworks!  Meanwhile, here's everything you need to know going in.

Meet The Contenders:

Hillary Clinton, esq. - You already know everything you could ever need to about her (unless she changes all of her stances again after seeing new internal polling before Tuesday) and for context we’ll direct you here, to something we wrote almost three years ago that remains spot on. Former Goldwater girl.

Bernie Sanders, Socialist - The non-Liz Warren American hero in the race.  A true American (Democratic) Socialist of the highest regard.  Heroically un-gifted as a musician, heroically gifted as a thought-haver.

Martin O'Malley, Maryland White Person - Former Maryland governor and the only life-long Democrat in the race.  He’s been flirting with the left but he is also the one person who stupidly tried to deflect #blacklivesmatter by saying “all lives matter.”  A victim of his own generic-ness/white man-ness.  Would look more at home on the GOP stage with that hair, but then again most of this debate’s stage will be former Republicans anyway.

Lincoln Chafee, Last Living Rockefeller Republican - A former Independent Rhode Island Governor and GOP Senator who had to give the one party he hadn’t tried a fair shot.  Unclear whether his fling with the Democrats will last.  A sad story of rich person meets irrelevance.

James (Jim) Webb, Former Reagan Military Appointee - Former Senator from Virginia and author of a 1979 article about the military entitled "Women Can't Fight."  Served as Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy in the late 80s, then won a 2006 senate election in Virginia after his competitor, George Allen, used the word “macaca” to refer to an Indian-American man filming the event.  According to his Wikipedia, he’s also “an Emmy Award winning journalist, a filmmaker, and the author of ten books.”  Okay, Jim Webb.  Whatever.


What To Expect

The Main Event

Republicans, Democratic Socialists, and one actual Democrat can crowd the stage to their heart’s content, but the main battle here will be between Clinton and Sanders, who rarely get a chance to go head-to-head.  Will there be fireworks?  Handshakes?  Joint Martha’s Vineyard vacations?  Fist fights?  Nobody knows!


How negative will they go? 

Sanders likes to claim that he’s never run a negative ad, but lately he’s been getting some good jabs in at Clinton, commenting on how she’s waited too long to come around on major issues like the Keystone XL Pipeline and the TPP.  Clinton, meanwhile, is trying to ignore Sanders away.  She hardly even says his name on the trail so it remains to be seen whether she will engage directly with him as a contender or stick to talking about herself, her plans, and her record.  Of course, is talking about all of that stuff a great idea for her?  The answer is no.  She’s in a bind.


Who has the most to gain? 

O’Malley.  He’s wasting away at 0% but he’s pretty good when he actually gets in front of an audience (minus his Netroots Nation / #BlackLivesMatter gaffe) and he’s done a decent job of campaigning to the left of Clinton without seeming radical.  Being on stage with the other contenders, especially in front of a large television audience, could be helpful in terms of raising his profile and giving him the chance to show himself as the best of both worlds in the Clinton/Sanders scrape.  This is why his team has been pressing for more debates.  It might already be too late for him to make a dent, though.  

On the flip side, he’s patently un-memorable when he’s not good so he has to really perform to make his “draft behind Hillary” plan work.  We suggest a shirtless debate performance where every answer comes in the form of an acoustic guitar solo.


How much does everyone gang up on Clinton?

She’s the national frontrunner, and at least in O’Malley’s case, he has NOT been afraid to call her out on her shit.  Does he keep doing it while she’s there standing mere feet away from him?  Do the rest of them do it too?  Do we care whether the rest of them do it?  Why were they even invited?  No one knows.

Also, given how close national polls are getting, does Sanders take any of that heat or does he get treated the way the rest of the Democratic establishment and the media treats him - as if he’s not there?


Why isn’t Lawrence Lessig going to be there?  

The criteria was an average of 1% with three national polls, but national polls aren’t even really polling Lessig so he doesn’t have a fair shot at qualifying.  He did, however, poll at 1% in one recent poll, which was more than some of the people who actually are participating did.  He also raised $1M in a month which is more than some of the other goons.  He then recently took to Politico to talk about how Debbie Wasserman Schultz keeps cancelling calls with him and nobody in the media is giving him a chance to make his pitch.  He wrote this:

“...of the last 10 major polls, only three mentioned my candidacy. One poll recently put me at 1 percent (for comparison, candidates O’Malley, Webb and Chafee, who will each get a podium at the debates, are all currently polling at 0.7 percent or less, according to Real Clear Politics). Were I actually included on every poll, I would easily make the debates.”

and this:

“This experience has led me to believe it’s not just the rules that discourage an outsider Democrat. It’s also the party. And that resistance may tie quite directly to the message of my campaign—one that no politician so far has had the courage to say.”


Other Important Things:

Time: This debate is only going to be 2 hours, THANK GOD.  If we have to live through another GOP debate #2 three-hour situation we may not make it to election day.

Place: VEGAS, BABY!  Will the candidates go double-or-nothing on the craps table with their Super PAC money?  Will they be hungover from a long night of hookers and blow?  It’s anyone’s guess!

Moderator: Anderson Cooper is moderating along with Don Lemon, a medium-idiot.  Also appearing: CNN correspondent Dana Bash and CNN en Español anchor Juan Carlos Lopez.  It’ll be set up similarly to the first CNN GOP debate, in which Bash and a guest host asked questions along with the moderator.  Also, there will be questions from Facebook!  So for all you Facebook lovers, don’t forget to send in your grammatically incorrect and un-researched questions that you’d like the candidates to answer!

Questions?  Thoughts?  Outbursts?  Trash talk?  Tweet us at @braintrustlive!