And then there were two.
The vast pool of Democratic presidential candidates, which started with over 20 people in June of last year, has been whittled down to just two: Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets…I mean Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders (but the two share an uncanny resemblance to the two curmudgeonly old Muppets who rained down insults from the balcony at the other Muppet characters, so you can forgive the confusion.)
Now, with just two candidates remaining (or three, if you count Tusli Gabbard, who has yet to suspend her campaign), Biden and Sanders faced off on the debate stage in Washington, DC. Due to fears of the coronavirus pandemic, there was no live audience present for the event, and the two candidates stood roughly six feet apart to maintain sanitary conditions.
But even though the virus-related concerns were addressed, the night may still have seen one casualty: Bernie Sanders’ presidential aspiration.
The debate was a last-ditch effort by Sanders to halt Biden’s momentum and stay alive in the race. Sanders’ strategy wasn’t a flawed one, considering Biden’s history of gaffes and his declining cognitive state. However, last night, Biden had his strongest debate performance to date. He came prepared to answer tough questions, didn’t have memory lapses, and didn’t flub his lines like he has throughout the course of his campaign.
The coronavirus was front and center throughout the night. Both candidates outlined how they would deal with the virus outbreak if they were in the Oval Office. Biden’s plan was generally vague and never discussed specifies, and Sanders didn’t have a plan at all. Instead, he just complained that America doesn’t have Medicare for All—as if that would have prevented the virus from spreading. Biden correctly pointed out that Italy has universal healthcare and that still hasn’t stopped the spread of the virus in that country.
Both men took shots at President Trump, claiming that he has bungled the response to the coronavirus without giving him any credit for the actions he’s taken in the past weeks.
They both overlooked the fact that Trump ordered a ban on incoming flights from China weeks before the virus began to spread in America. He also stopped flights from Europe and announced that testing will be taking place throughout the country. What more do they want the man to do?
Biden and Sanders sparred over differing views on healthcare, gun control, and immigration. Biden made headlines by announcing his commitment to picking a woman for vice president if he were to win the nomination. Liberals like Biden don’t believe in merit. They prefer to virtue signal to their base than pick someone who is the most qualified for the position. That is not to say that that person can’t be a woman, but it prevents a group of men from being considered. Conservatives believe in a merit system; liberals believe in diversity for diversity’s sake. Bernie, for his part, made references to considering a female running mate, but would not make a definitive statement.
Biden attacked Sanders for his comments supporting Fidel Castro and other socialist dictators throughout history. The attack was warranted but failed to mention that the dictators amassed their power through implementing a socialist regiment. Bernie once again doubled down on his past support of socialist dictators even as he condemned their authoritarianism. However, authoritarianism and socialism walk hand in hand. They aren’t two separate systems—you can’t have one without the other.
For his part, Bernie highlighted Biden’s history of flip-flopping on policy positions, a tactic that President Trump will likely adopt in the general election. Biden is an empty vassal that is only interested in advancing his political career. He has no core political beliefs, and his track record shows how many times he’s switched sides on key issues.
The New York Times chronicled the exchange when they wrote, “Indeed, Mr. Sanders repeatedly forced Mr. Biden onto the defensive, leading the former vice president to play down or misstate portions of his own record. Challenged by Mr. Sanders for his role championing bankruptcy legislation backed by the credit card industry, Mr. Biden said he did not help write the legislation and ‘made it clear to the industry that I did not like the bill’ — though Mr. Biden was among its most vocal Democratic supporters.
Pressed by Mr. Sanders about his past comments in the Senate suggesting it could be necessary to rein in Social Security and other popular entitlement programs, Mr. Biden gave a halting series of answers that prompted Mr. Sanders to urge him to ‘be straight with the American people.’
Despite attacks on his record, Biden held firm throughout the night and did what he had to do: He didn’t have any embarrassing moments. An embarrassing viral moment for Biden and strong debate performance by Senator Sanders would’ve been Bernie’s best chance of getting back into the race—but that didn’t happen.
Biden will likely dominate Tuesday’s primary votes, including in the delegate-rich state of Florida. If Sanders performs poorly on Tuesday, he should strongly consider exiting the campaign because he will have no path to winning the nomination.
Sunday’s debate may have been the final installment of the Democratic Clown Show.
Stay tuned to find out.