A house packed full of Democrats, at Clock-Out Lounge on Beacon Hill, cheered like football fans as 10 of their party’s presidential candidates debated issues and at times got personal for about three hours.
“I appreciate the passion,” attendee Jasette Wicker said.
Numerous of the Democrats present had not made up their minds on a candidate. Hard arguments in a debate are “fair game,” and “the information you get helps make that decision,” said Rick Polintan, chair of the 11th District Democrats.
With that said, Elizabeth Warren continued the gains of what has been a spectacular summer, complete with a sun-splashed crowd of 15,000 in Seattle.
“I’m dating all of them: I haven’t proposed yet,” said former Seattle City Council candidate Brianna Thomas. “But I am getting pretty serious about Warren.
Paul Joseph Brown, a Seattle photographer who co-hosted a fundraising reception for Pete Buttigieg, praised the candidates but especially the “Gentle lady from Massachusetts.”
“They all would honor the Presidency,” Brown wrote on Facebook. “But Elizabeth Warren has the analysis, the policies and most importantly, the narrative that pulls it all together.”
By contrast, a rasping Sen. Bernie Sanders was getting critical remarks. “Bernie — stop yelling at us,” Seattle philanthropist Sonya Campion posted on Facebook. Michael Maddux, Seattle political activist, tweeted: “Is it me or does Sanders sound sick.”
The crowd at Clock-Out Lounge was clearly pro-Warren. But the newly minted “Fighting Joe” Biden won applause at times, especially during the passionate 30-minute health care exchange that launched the debate.
The best Biden moment was his angry comeback when Bernie Sanders seemed to suggest that Biden was responsible for people getting cancer. The former vice president’s son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, died of a brain tumor.
The crowd jeered ex-HUD Secretary Julian Castro for his crude, low-blow attempt to exploit Biden’s age. (Castro asked Biden: “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?”, and repeated the question moments later.)
The crowd also giggled when entrepreneur Andrew Yang proposed paying a $1,000 a month “Freedom Dividend” to 10 Americans lucky enough to be chosen.
Derek Richards, chair of the King County Young Democrats, sponsor of the debate watch, suggested that the country was a winner in watching its would-be leaders debate and disagree on health care.
“We had, for the first time, a substantive debate about the issue of health care, which is tops on the minds of Americans,” Richards said. “It is better to have that debate now. People want to see the differences, and how it (proposals) would affect them. I think the candidates did a very good job.”
Sen. Corey Booker, D-New Jersey, argued passionately and impressively in the previous two debates, and was at his best on Thursday night. But Booker’s performance has yet to give him a bump in the polls.
“Go Corey Booker! Spot on!” posted Campion. “An office in the White House to dismantle systemic racism.”
Far into the debate, Booker was asked about his decision to become a vegan, in the context of cattle ranchers burning forests in the Amazon. He skirted the convoluted question, and pivoted to the health and employment problems of America’s recent veterans.
“Good on Corey Booker for turning that stupid question into a good answer on meaningful policies,” Maddux tweeted.
But it appears that longtime front runner Joe Biden finds himself increasingly facing the surging Warren.
The Massachusetts senator had a long “dry” spell, not being asked a question for a stretch when impacts of racism and gun violence were on the table.
“When does Elizabeth Warren get to speak again?” asked an irritated Derek Richards, a Warren backer.
No mind. Cameron Kasky, a March for Our Lives activist and Parkland shooting survivor, tweeted to his 432,000 followers: “Nobody in this race is up to Elizabeth Warren’s level. She is the most Presidential candidate up there. I want to vote for her and be led by her.”