On Sept. 12, Texas Southern University in Houston was home to the third Democratic debate between the top 10 candidates. Regarding the issues, healthcare received the most attention. There were several memorable takeaways from the event:
2018 Senate candidate from Texas and former congressman, Beto O’Rourke, was able to revive some of the initial momentum that he brought when he first announced his bid, promising to “take away your AR-15” to the delight of many.
Former Vice President Joe Biden stuck largely to his tactic of promising to build off former President Barack Obama’s legacy. As the front-runner, Biden was the target of the most criticism from his fellow Democrats, including that of Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Obama, Julián Castro. Biden also faced a stream of criticism from candidates to his left, namely Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
For Biden, this debate was critical. He was viewed by many as unable to withstand the criticism that his opponents have laid on him, and his former controversial past as a Senator has led some to reconsider their support for him. Nevertheless, he remains the front-runner for now, although Senators Sanders and Warren remain close to him in the polls.
California Sen. Kamala Harris focused her debate performance on attacking President Trump and his policies, empathizing the need to get him out of office. Out of all the candidates, she mentioned Trump’s name the most. Her anti-Trump rhetoric was met with mixed reviews, with some observers criticizing her anti-Trump message without mentioning other key issues. Harris has portrayed herself as one of the only candidates to be able to get the votes of both moderate and progressive Democrats.
Sens. Sanders and Warren, viewed by many to be on one side of the same ideological coin, generally did not attack each other. Instead, they focused their attacks on Biden, their emphasis on the notion of single-payer healthcare and introducing “big structural changes” to government.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar promoted a message of unity, portraying herself as a uniting figure who would be able to get the votes of several critical Midwestern states.
Sen. Cory Booker attracted some positive attention for his passionate calls for racial justice.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang started the debate out strong, but ended his performance with arguably one of the worst lines of the night by stating, “Now, I am Asian, so, I know a lot of doctors.”
Finally, Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., used his relatively young age in the hopes of connecting with many disenfranchised younger voters and was lauded by the LGBTQ community for “coming out” again onstage.
Like Harris, Buttigieg has promoted himself as being the link between moderates and progressives.
The fourth debate is scheduled to be held on Oct. 14 in Westerville, Ohio. It is set to be co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN.