Last night was the final Democratic debate on broadcast television before we start the primary electoral process. In Charleston, South Carolina, the presidential hopefuls made their time count.
Even Martin O’Malley, who noticeably fell behind the two front-runners in total speaking time, received rousing cheers from the crowd. The candidates really got into it, and the crowd responded accordingly.
The NBC News-YouTube debate night was all about Sen. Bernie Sanders. News of his last-minute policy switch on gun manufacturer/seller liability and the recent healthcare attacks on him from the Clinton camp were discussed.
The fiery Vermont Senator was an especially electrified version of himself last night, taking full ownership of the revolutionary democratic socialist persona that has so intrigued the disaffected Left.
Google Trends data reflect the deep interest in the Sanders campaign. His Google searches trended mostly higher than Hillary Clinton’s throughout the debate. The top trending questions did not flatter Clinton, but also questioned Sanders’ electability.
Hillary’s top trending question was: “Will Hillary Clinton get prosecuted?” and Bernie’s: “Why is Bernie Sanders so popular?”
Topics of conversation were plentiful, ranging from the Iran sanctions relief to middle-class taxes. On most issues, Sanders looked to highlight the differences between himself and the former Secretary of State, inevitably answering a few questions or rebuttals with: “I agree with much of what the secretary just said, but…”
A major theme throughout the night was Sanders’ fixation on underlining his anti-Wall Street and campaign-finance reform positions. His closing statement was a full-on defense of campaign-finance reform and a serious call for breaking the relationship politicians develop with special interests.
As Bernie Sanders elevated his decibel level and tone of urgency, so did Hillary Clinton. The former Secretary of State raised her voice when promising no tax increases on the middle class and the remittance of student debt.
There were no beeps or buzzes when the candidates spoke for too long, just a few polite reminders of time constraints. Moderators Lester Holt and Andrea Mitchell kept the discussion mostly civil, and they did well keeping focus on the candidates and away from themselves.
Who ever thought a Democratic debate in 2016 could be as exciting, if not more so, than a GOP policy-fest?