Last night in Las Vegas, the Democratic Party finally had its first debate for the 2016 presidential nomination. Five candidates, all professional politicians with either current or former public office titles before their names, took the stage to face a grilling from CNN's Anderson Cooper while also trading punches with one another.
Here's a quick look at the big moments from last night's DNC debate:
Joe Biden Passed On Appearing On Stage
— Latino Victory (@latinovictoryus) October 7, 2015
As the 2016 presidential election season gets closer and closer to being a full year away, there's more and more chatter about Vice President Joe Biden making a run for the White House. For his part, Biden has remained pretty coy on the subject, citing the recent death of his son Beau and the need to be "emotionally ready" to run for president. But that hasn't stopped plenty of people from within the Democratic Party from wanting him to get in the game. So choosing to skip the debate (even though he had a chance to join at the last minute) may turn out to be a signal about his intention to run...or a shrewd move as part of his overall campaign strategy.
Lincoln Chafee Said He Once Didn't Know What He Voted For
Lincoln Chafee gave one of the worst answers in presidential debate history http://t.co/YMmrtYfaVs — Dennis Lennox (@dennislennox) October 14, 2015
Party debates are often opportunities for candidates that have done well regionally to introduce themselves to the national stage, usually causing reactions to non-frontrunners along the lines of "Uhhh, who is this again?" It's a fact that former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (who's also been a Republican and an Independent) seems to have kept in mind when introduced himself at the start of the night as "scandal free." But his most memorable moment of the night was when he gave what is being called "the worst debate answer" by citing a "dog ate my homework/it's my first day" excuse to why he voted for a certain bill without knowing what it was about.
Bernie Sanders & Hillary Clinton Debated Socialism Vs. Capitalism
It might be have been five people on the stage, but politico watchers from both sides were tuning into see how the party's top two polling candidates squared off against one another. And they didn't have to wait long; early on in the night, Cooper brought up Sanders' self-proclaimed status as a socialist, which led to a debate between the Vermont Senator and the former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State on the merits of capitalism vs. socialism. The back and forth features what was arguably Sanders' line of the night: "Congress doesn't regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates Congress."
Everyone Piled On Sanders For His Stance On Guns
Leading off by highlighting the now near constant cycle of mass shootings in America, Cooper posed the question of gun control to the candidates (something Sanders is surprisingly against). Their answers devolved into a dogpile on the second highest-polling candidate and his stance that clashes with many loyal party voters.
Sanders Defends Clinton In Her Email Scandal
Bernie Sanders Had A Great Answer To The Hillary Clinton Email Scandal http://t.co/omjQkps010 https://t.co/qNt6xLacNv — BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) October 14, 2015
Despite their rivalry, it seems that even Sanders agrees with Clinton supporters (and a lot of other people) on the exhaustively excessive concern by Republicans and coverage by the conservative media over her recent email scandal.
Jim Webb Had an Awkward Night
— POLITICO (@politico) October 14, 2015
Throughout the evening, the former Virginia Senator and Marine constantly worked to assert himself as an old-school democrat, moderate on domestic issues and touch on foreign policy. If only he had the chance to speak his mind. I mean he's been waiting for 10 minutes over here. And then there was when Cooper came to him with his softball question of "what enemy are you most proud of" and he made a joke about that time he killed an enemy soldier in Vietnam, which is actually a pretty incredible story, but still fell flat.
Martin O'Malley Closed Out the Night Perfectly
Should there have been a mike drop after #Martinomalley finished his closing remarks? #Impressed. https://t.co/9fxkRAEjII — James Connor (@toJamesConnor) October 14, 2015
The former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor didn't stand out from the pack until the very end, when he was given a chance to give his closing remarks and highlighted the difference between the DNC debate and the two GOP debates, specifically its lack of offensive spectacle and focus on the issues. Take that, Trump.