Wednesday, August 7, 2019

All Moderates Want to Replace Biden

If Joe Biden fades, all the moderates from the first night’s debate and Michael Bennet from the second night want to become the face of the moderate wing of the party. Unfortunately for them, Biden’s support in the Black community, mostly based on association with Barack Obama, is unlikely to transfer. They will quickly find that building a majority primary constituency is very difficult. Nonetheless, the second round of Democratic debates revived the party moderates to take on Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

Michael Bennet, in the second debate, had the benefit of being the only moderate outside the night’s main target – Joe Biden. He took on Kamala Harris on the left’s main policy program and its major vulnerability – Medicare for All. He aggressively questioned its tax implications, more or less called her deceptive, and said it made private insurance illegal. She was not happy.

Bennet’s best moment was his high volume criticism of current education policy effectively pointing out it was ridiculous to argue 1970s busing when schools were still segregated and inadequate.

Bennet had a good night, but it’s unlikely to move the polls as long as Biden remains the frontrunner – he holds the moderate space. He appeared to emerge from the night of attacks intact. The challenge for the six-person moderate wing is just to survive into the September debate.

From left: Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand and Julian Castro
at the July 31, 2019 debate | Scott Olson/Getty Images

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