The Political Rundown

One night, three hours, 12 candidates — a debate for the books

Tiana Kuchta

More stories from Tiana Kuchta


Tuesday night marked the fourth Democratic debate of the season. It also marked the largest televised debate with 12 candidates on stage.

While the event may have seemed long — running about three hours in total — it was extremely beneficial because the candidates spent a lot of time discussing policy and clearing up where they stood on certain issues.

There were “debates over automation and employment, the consequences of US withdrawal from Syria, wealth taxation and more,” according to “It saw direct confrontation between candidates who had not previously squared off, like Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard, or Andrew Yang and Amy Klobuchar or Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren.”

Speaking of Warren, remember when I said she was safe from attacks in the last debate? It seems other candidates noticed the same and were not willing to spare her this time around.

“Elizabeth Warren weathered attacks from a number of her opponents in a clear sign that the Massachusetts senator has assumed frontrunner status in the race,” according to The Guardian.

Some of these attacks included O’Rourke accusing Warren of trying to pit the wealthy and the poor against each other through things like her proposed wealth tax, Buttigieg and Klobuchar questioning the logic behind her “Medicare for all” plan and Kamala Harris criticizing Warren for not calling on Twitter to suspend the president’s account, according to The New York Times.

With Warren feeling the heat of being the new frontrunner, Joe Biden has fallen into second place and his performance at the debate didn’t seem likely to change that.

While Biden used some time on stage to defend his son and his business dealings with Ukraine, he remained fairly quiet for the rest of the debate.

“Biden didn’t distinguish himself in any of these discussions. He made gaffes … (and) his other answers were frequently rambling and hard to follow, creating room for rivals like Buttigieg to step up,” according to

As I already stated, Buttigieg went on the attack against Warren over her “Medicare for all” plan, but he also went after O’Rourke over the plan for mandatory buybacks of assault weapons, according to The New York Times.

Buttigieg’s issue with these plans is that they’re too unrealistic, but that doesn’t mean he’s against the concepts.

“We are this close to an assault weapons ban. That would be huge,” Buttigieg said, according to The New York Times. “To get fixated on ‘Hell, yes, we’re going to take your guns,’ would sacrifice that.”

Buttigieg wasn’t the only one impressing voters Tuesday night. Coming off of his heart attack scare from last week, Bernie Sanders made an impressive recovery and reinstated confidence in his campaign during the debate.

“He was more animated and on his game than much younger candidates like Tulsi Gabbard or Amy Klobuchar. He was more effective than Warren at defending the Medicare-for-all plan they both support,” according to

With Sanders and Warren maintaining their positions so strongly in the top three, and Biden coasting through the debate, it will be interesting to see how the other candidates will continue to compete with them and if anyone new will enter the top three.

Kuchta can be reached at [email protected]