Ten Democratic presidential candidates faced off for the first of two nights of debates. Through a random selection, Elizabeth Warren got placed on what was dubbed “the kid’s table” as she squared off with none of the other top-tier contenders for the nomination.
And NBC News did not even declare her the winner of that debate.
Warren, who is ranked third in popularity according to RealClearPolitics, debated nine other candidates who are not in the top five on Wednesday night. Those candidates are Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, and Tim Ryan, according to CNN.
NBC News chose President Trump as the winner.
The news outlet reported that Trump “emerged from the scrap largely unscathed — barely mentioned at all — even though he is a uniquely antagonizing and energizing force for Democratic voters.”
“Their jockeying, punctuated by efforts to outflank each other to the political left and conduct a mid-debate Spanish-speaking contest, could alienate swing voters important to the party's chances against Trump in November 2020,” NBC reporter Jonathan Allen warned.
“The motivation to beat each other was, on this night, more urgent than defeating Trump,” he wrote, adding that “Trump was the chief beneficiary of that dynamic.”
Warren, Allen noted, appeared to be the least desperate candidate on the debate stage because she had the least the prove. The nine other candidates are struggling to show the public why they should stay in the race and not drop out after the first debate.
Castro was highly combative toward O’Rourke over illegal immigration. Ryan and Iraq war veteran Gabbard went after each other over the war in Afghanistan. The times that O’Rourke, Castro, and Booker launched into Spanish at length was an obvious move to pander to Spanish-speaking voters, but NBC warned that there’s evidence that many Latino voters aren’t impressed by that. Liberal late-night hosts made fun of them.
A poll by NJ.com put Gabbard comfortably in the lead, followed by Warren and Castro. That’s great news for Gabbard, who has been at 0.8 percent in the polls and has gained little notice since she announced her campaign six months ago.
NBC News appeared to be warning the second night’s debaters that they’d better talk about Trump if they want to be considered serious candidates who could take him down. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennett, Marianne Willamson, Eric Swalwell, Andrew Yang, and John Hickenlooper were selected for the Thursday night debate.