Image Credits: Jim Watson, AFP/Getty Images

Night two of debate night is complete. Hot topics like healthcare, immigration, and climate change were just a few among many points of discussion and contention for the second half of twenty candidates featured in the CNN debate.

In no particular order, here are each candidate’s highlights from the night.

Former Vice President Joe Biden

The current front-runner spent the night deflecting attacks from his fellow candidates. The attacks on Biden began with Senator Harris about healthcare Then, it spread to Mayor de Blasio and Senator Booker with comments about immigration. It continued throughout the evening among other candidates. His support among the audience seemed to dwindle throughout the evening, as did his fire. However, Biden still gave an expectedly strong performance. 

Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro 

Former Secretary Castro did not make waves on Wednesday night’s debate stage. He relied heavily on his work in the Obama administration and one-liners against President Trump, and little else. Based on this performance, it does not appear likely that this debate will push his campaign to success in the primaries.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Senator Gillibrand carried over her fire from the first debate. She spoke firmly and passionately on almost every occasion she had the opportunity. Gillibrand had a few well-received comments directed at President Trump, including one about “clorox[ing] the Oval Office” on her first day as president. She flubbed when prompted by a moderator to respond to a fellow candidate, appearing surprised. In fact, she needed several moments to gather her thoughts. Unfortunately for Gillibrand, this was one of her most memorable moments of the night.

Senator Michael Bennet

Senator Bennett received resounding applause for his passionate appeal on the question of criminal justice reform, in which he proclaimed that education reform is an essential step to pursuing a quality criminal justice system. It was arguably the most well-received line of the night, a strong moment for an otherwise little-known candidate.

Governor Jay Inslee

Governor Inslee has been one of the most — if not the most — fervent advocate for climate change action. Though he seemed to falter throughout the evening on other issues, he stood strong and firm on climate change, calling for immediate and extreme action.

Senator Kamala Harris

Senator Harris sparred with former Vice President Biden several times over the course of the evening. Topics included on the issues of healthcare and criminal justice. After her fiery start, Harris fell largely quiet for the remainder of the evening. Her second wind came in the form of another wave of attacks against Biden for his flip of position on the Hyde Amendment, though her efforts received limited praise from the crowd.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio used his minute-long opening statement to simultaneously present himself as the one who could usher in hope and throw verbal punches at front-runners Biden and Harris. He continued to speak out against the front-runners as well as President Trump. His repeated words surrounding policy for the people did not garner great support from this responsive crowd.

Senator Cory Booker

Senator Booker’s night came off to a rocky start after a throng of hecklers interrupted his opening statement. But his message seemed to resonate regardless; he emphasized the need for unity among Democrats. On a stage where Democrats came out swinging against their opponents even in their opening statements, this was a point that was met with applause from the crowd. He did walk back on those cries for unity throughout the evening, with several harsh statements against his fellow Democrats.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

Yang began the debate by calling himself the opposite of President Trump. He is “an Asian man who likes math.” He claimed that he was best-equipped to beat Trump in 2020 because his base is a conglomeration of Democrats, disillusioned Republicans, and everywhere in between. Polls to this point have shown that his support is feeble, but his generally positive performance in this debate could provide an uptick in support.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard

Congresswoman Gabbard broke with her fellow candidates in their attacks on former Vice President Biden. Instead, she targeted Senator Kamala Harris’ inconsistent and sometimes questionable criminal justice work as Attorney General of California. Even in this tense moment, Gabbard came across as an even-tempered candidate in the midst of several vitriolic exchanges among her counterparts.

The second half of the CNN debate night was productive in creating substantive discussion, though it was certainly not without the same fire of the previous night’s debate. The third round of debates is set to take place on September 12 and 13, hosted by ABC News.

Liana I.
FFL Cabinet
Liana is a follower of Christ and current communications student at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She enjoys writing, reading, and serving others.

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