Former Vice-President Joe Biden may be on top of the polls, but he was not at the top of his game during Thursday night’s third Democratic debate at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, something that former Housing Sec. Julian Castro used well to his advantage.
While the anticipated marquee showdown was Biden vs. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who solidified her position, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) as Biden’s biggest threat, it was Castro who reminded voters and debate watchers that the primary election is not the general election, and that this is when Democrats should go in—no holds barred.
And as Biden attempted to side-step President Obama’s ugly legacy of night raids, detentions and deportations, he ran into a brick wall.
“Every time something good about Barack Obama comes up, [Biden] says, ‘Oh, I was there, I was there, I was there. That’s me, too,'” Castro said of Obama’s self-proclaimed BFF. “Then, every time someone questions part of the administration that we were both part of, he says, ‘Well, that was the president.’ He wants to take credit for Obama’s work, but not have to answer to any questions.”
Castro also called into question Biden’s fitness to serve in a controversial exchange that drew some of the loudest reactions of the night.
Biden, who continues to advocate for perfecting the Affordable Care Act instead of ditching it in exchange for more progressive plans—including Sanders’ ‘Medicare-for-All’, stumbled around an answer on healthcare. He first said, “Anyone who can’t afford it gets automatically enrolled in the Medicare-type option we have; later adding, “You can automatically buy into this.”
“Obama wanted every single person in this country covered,” Castro said of his former boss. “My plan would do that. Your plan would not.”
Biden retorted that people would not have to buy in, to which Castro responded: “You just said that two minutes ago. You just said two minutes ago they would have to buy in…Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?”
“I can’t believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in and now you’re saying they don’t have to buy in,” Castro continued, as some in the electrified crowd exploded, while others sat stunned. “You’re forgetting that?”
Finally, Castro twisted the knife, telling Biden that he is the one walking into Obama’s legacy, not the former vice president.
“That would be a surprise to him,” Biden scoffed.
Cory Booker Is Black
The smaller-sized debate stage gave the candidates more opportunities to shine. It also gave Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) more time to remind everyone that he’s a Black man from a hard-scrabble Black neighborhood in Brick City, who has to dodge bullets in the hood trying to save Obama’s cousin Pookie from a burning crackhouse.
No, he didn’t go quite that far, but Booker is very clearly trying to make sure that no one forgets that he’s the lone Black man in the mix and if anyone knows about poverty, crime, guns, and violence, it’s him.
The Sanders Effect: He ‘Wrote The Damn Bill’
Booker, Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Warren all lauded President Barack Obama—a Black man in the United States who has had to work twice as hard to get half as far away from Joe Biden mentioning his name every 2 minutes—particularly, Obamacare. But there was also credit reserved for Sanders, who has transformed conversations around healthcare in this country, only to see others credit and co-opt his ideas simultaneously. He seemed visibly agitated by the cautious nature of his colleagues’ adjusted-for-centrism arguments and reiterated:
“We need a health care system that guarantees health care to all people as every other major country does,” Sanders said, “not a system which provides $100 billion a year in profit for the drug companies and the insurance companies.”
“Let us be clear, Joe, in the United States of America, we are spending twice as much per capita on health care as the Canadians or any other major country on Earth,” Sanders continued.
“This is America,” Biden responded as if he were saying, “Sir, this is a Wendy’s.”
“Yeah, but Americans don’t want to pay twice as much as other countries,” Sanders said.
When Warren, once again, voiced her agreement with Sanders, Biden said: “I know that the senator says she’s for Bernie. Well I’m for Barack. I think Obamacare worked This is about candor, honesty, big ideas.”
The next Democratic Debate is scheduled to take place October 14 at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.Share :