WASHINGTON DC — Deseret News opinion page editor Boyd Matheson, who was in Washington DC during Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Houston, says the mood in the nation’s capital is not good, and the Texas debate featuring ten 2020 hopefuls is not likely to change that gloomy outlook any time soon.
“There is an interesting mood in D.C. this week, you can feel the tension, a bit of angst and concern. Congress isn’t doing anything. They’re staring down a very long 2020 political season that seems to be going on forever, just like the Democratic presidential debate did Thursday night,” declared Matheson to KSL NewsRadio following the debate.
But, he says, there were still some good moments from Texas Southern University. Winners, according to Matheson, included Senators Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker. Boyd says the Minnesota senator appeared to be the “adult in the room,” resonating as the voice of reason from the Midwest. The New Jersey senator, says Matheson, also had a good night and continues his debate tradition of being the “happy warrior,” appearing positive and above the fray.
“Cory Booker continues to show why he is so good in that debate format. He’s a happy warrior, he shows the passion without being angry. He shows compassion without being soft. The big challenge for Booker is where does he go after these debates? He has been absolutely unable to parlay any of his good debate performances into any kind of forward momentum,” says Matheson.
Boyd says Texan Beto O’Rourke did fairly well, having a better night and seems to be getting his sea legs through the last few debates. California Senator Kamala Harris, despite previously good debate performances, had an off night, says Matheson. Thursday night, she seemed scripted and contrived. She did have some clever one-liners, but Boyd says she did not seem to resonate with the crowd.
The three current front runners Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders neither gained nor lost much ground in Thursday night’s debate. Matheson says the former vice president had an uneven night, good in the first hour, then lost his way down the stretch. He says Senator Warren got lost in the shuffle and that she and Senator Sanders appeared to play nice. As for Sanders, Matheson says it didn’t help much that he participated with a voice that was literally almost gone.
“Bernie Sanders was clearly coming off a cold and didn’t have much of a voice or the right kind of energy. Sanders really seemed angry much of a night and just couldn’t really move anything forward,” according to Matheson.
One candidate that needed a good showing Thursday night was South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg. Boyd says he’ll likely move on to the next debate despite an uneven performance in front of the Houston crowd. Matheson believes it could be near the end of the road for businessman Andrew Yang after a bizarre night where he told viewers to go to his website and enter to win $1,000 a month, which, says Matheson, probably violates campaign finance laws.
Finally, the biggest loser of the night clearly was former cabinet secretary Julian Castro. According to Matheson, the most cringe worthy moment involved Castro and Biden when Castro appeared to intentionally try and portray Biden as forgetful during an exchange between the two on health care. Boyd says he believes it backfired on Castro, and that it may indeed be the end of the line for the candidate from San Antonio, Texas.
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