6 TAKEAWAYS FROM DEMOCRATIC DEBATE
1)Health care takes center stage
Democrats made healthcare a centerpiece of their successful campaign to re-take the U.S. House in 2018, and once again the issue continues to dominate the debating heading into 2020.
Roughly the first 30 minutes of Tuesday night's debate were dominated by one subject: health care. More specifically it was about one policy, Medicare for All, which remains a dividing line among the Democratic contenders.
Sanders and Warren both vociferously defended Medicare for all from attacks from multiple candidates, including from both a clearly aggressive Delaney and an eager Tim Ryan.
"I wrote the damn bill!" Sanders said when Ryan challenged him on the specifics of what would be covered in his Medicare for All plan.
Beto O'Rourke, Buttigieg and others tried to make the pitch that America will eventually transition towards a Medicare for All system by offering a public option to compete against private health insurance.
The former Texas congressman also pledged that middle-class taxes will not be increased under his healthcare plan, a point of contention and disagreement among those pitching Medicare for All.
2)Moderates try to make their mark
Tuesday was also billed as the last best chance for candidates mired towards the bottom of the polls to break out before the DNC imposes stricter debate rules for the fall.
That urgency was evident for candidates like Bullock, Delaney and Hickenlooper, who each repeatedly tried to pitch a broader and more succinct argument for why they’re the best candidate to unite the party and defeat Trump.
"I'm running for president to beat Donald Trump, win back the places we lost, and make sure that Americans know that where Washington’s left them behind in the economy and political system, I'll be there," Bullock, who was appearing on the debate stage for the first time, said in his closing statement.
"I have actually got a track record as a small business owner, as a mayor and as a governor," Hickenlooper argued.
The effects of their performance won't be fully known for a few days or weeks, but many of these candidates may have to face the reality that this was their last chance to stand toe-to-toe on a national stage with their fellow Democratic contenders and make their pitch.
3)Candidates address Trump and recent controversies
Not surprisingly many candidates took time on the debate stage to directly call out President Trump in concise and stark terms.
"The racism,bigotry and the entire conversation that we're having here tonight, if you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days," said author Marianne Williamson, who had a few standout moments Tuesday evening.
"We need to call out white supremacy for what it is, domestic terrorism. And it poses a threat to the United States of America," Warren said in response to a question from CNN's Don Lemon about President Trump running a re-election strategy based on "racial division."
Both Williamson and O'Rourke brought up the idea of reparations for the descendants of slaves.
"The legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and suppression is alive and well in every aspect of the economy and in the country," the former Texas Congressman said, also pledging to enact a bill to study reparations authored by Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
4)O'Rourke and Buttigieg Tries to increase their Bar
O'Rourke faced lofty expectations when he got in the race back in March after his electrifying run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, and thus far has struggled to deliver. Prior to Tuesday, he made it clear that this debate was an opportunity to regain his footing and boost himself back into the discussion as a legitimate contender for the nomination.
On Tuesday the candidate was prepared for a question on decriminalizing crossings at the US Mexico Border, a topic that tripped him up during last month's debate. The candidate also brought the focus to his home state of Texas, which will be critical to his chances of clinching enough delegates to capture the Democratic nomination.
"Bernie [Sanders] was talking about battleground states in which we compete. There's a new battleground state, Texas, and it has 38 electoral college votes," O'Rourke said to applause and agreement from the crowd his fellow candidates.
Buttigieg, who has arguably been on an opposite trajectory from O'Rourke, leading the pack in fundraising in the second quarter, unleashed sharp attacks on Trump and Republicans in Congress.
"if you are watching this at home and you are a Republican member of congress, consider the fact that when the sun sets on your career, and they are writing your story of all the good and bad things you did in your life, the thing you will be remembered for is whether in this moment with this president you found the courage to stand up to him, or you continue to put party over country," Buttigieg said in one of the night's most memorable moments.
O'Rourke and Buttigieg are both running as aspirational candidates of generational change, and the competition for voters looking for just that type of candidate likely won't get any easier after Tuesday's debate.
5) Sanders and Warren Vs Rest of Candidates
Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the two leading progressives in the Democratic field, did not come to blows Tuesday night. Instead they fended off, one after another, a series of critiques and criticisms from the likes of Hickenlooper, Rep. Tim Ryan, and former Rep. John Delaney.
The attacks on Warren and Sanders came early, particularly in the animated discussion over "Medicare for All" that dominated the first half of the debate. The two progressives both favor a version of government-run health care that would essentially eliminate private health insurance altogether, an idea that didn't sit well with the other candidates on stage.
During the opening remarks. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, the only new face at Tuesday's debate, criticized what he called "wish-list economics," a thinly veiled shot at the big, expensive proposals offered up by Warren and Sanders. Minnesota Sen.
Amy Klobuchar similarly knocked candidates who make "a lot of promises" but can't deliver. Delaney, a former health care executive, later made mention of what he called the "fairytale economics" underpinning progressive plans.
Despite lower-polling candidates tried to attack them both. Recent CBS News polling indicates that both candidates remain in the top tier of Democratic hopefuls, and as Tuesday's debate came to a close, there was no indication that either was about to fall by the wayside.
6)Absence of Joe Biden
Despite a lackluster performance in the first Democratic debate, Joe Biden is still the front runner. He leads in nearly every early state and national poll and enjoys universal name recognition among voters. President Trump predicted Tuesday that he would be the eventual Democratic nominee. Yet his name was not uttered once during Tuesday's debate, which lasted over two and a half hours. Biden's absence served as a reminder that he continues to own the center lane in the presidential primary.