Mike Littwin live blogs the first Democratic debate


Oh, and I forgot Joe Biden, which says as much as you need to say about Clinton’s night.


And so it ends. Clinton had her best night of the campaign — a strong performance against a weak field.The Bern got done what he needed to get done, so long as he’s not really serious about winning. O’Malley did just enough to remove himself from The Other Guys. Webb killed. Literally. And then there was the block of granite.

It would be interesting to see Clinton and Sanders have a 1-on-1 debate on the 1 percent, etc.


I’m pretty sure Jim Webb just said he killed a man. And smiled. It may be harder than I thought to keep him out of the next debate.


Shock: Clinton passes on pot. Sanders says he’d probably vote for it. Not exactly a newsmaker.


Apparently this debate will never end. My first prediction was that this debate would be better than people think. I apologize for that.


Marc Ambinder correctly Tweets: Again, isn’t it weird to have the “Latino journalist” only be able to ask about Latino/immigration issues? It’s gimmicky and insulting.


It took nearly two hours for someone to call the Donald a “carnival barker.” I lost the pool by 75 minutes.


Will this be the block of granite’s last debate?


Here’s the line Clinton will regret: “Everybody on this stage has changed a position or two.” The ad, as they say, writes itself (although they never actually do).


Let me say, for those who aren’t following, the Donald’s tweets have been, uh, not quite as good as the Bernie-Hillary GIF of shaking hands.


O’Malley finally gets into the debate — on Sanders’ issue, the big banks. It’s the first time they’ve really gotten to Clinton, who does take a back seat on Wall Street. I know it’s not a good use of her god-given talents.


One of the winners tonight: #blacklivesmatter.


Clinton’s one word response to block of granite: “No.” Crowd goes nuts.

The  big question after tonight is why Clinton wanted fewer debates. The crowd loves her and no one on the stage can begin to compete.


So we get to the emails. And Clinton answers with Kevin McCarthy and with a knowing smile that every Democrat in the crowd gets.

This will be the line of the night.

Bernie: I think the secretary is right. “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”


How’s Bernie doing: A Dem friend writes: At least we won’t have to hear any more about Bernie Sanders after tonight.


Webb just traveled the world on foreign policy, ending up in China. I don’t know if it helped him any, but he should get some frequent flyer points.


O’Malley talks about politicians being “railroaded by … polls” on Iraq. Clinton’s vote was clearly a political vote – and one that has been her biggest political mistake.


Chafee questions her judgment for Iraq vote. Clinton says that she and Obama debated this dozens of times — and then he named her secretary of state.

Now Sanders goes after Clinton on Iraq. The debate turns into a debate.


Sanders on guns: He’s against raising voices. He’s for finding common ground. Here’s the question he has to answer: He’s passionate on so many issues, why isn’t he passionate on guns? That’s a loser today for liberals.


O’Malley follows Clinton by going after Sanders on guns. Is Clinton getting a pass? Is O’Malley looking at veep slot?


Is Bernie Sanders tough enough on guns? Clinton: “No.”

That’s her issue. “It wasn’t that complicated to me.”


Cooper goes hard on O’Malley on Baltimore, which would be fine, except that no one watching has any idea what the facts are. Not a good thing for O’Malley.


If you’re looking for a guide on how to vote: Sanders is a socialist. Clinton is a flip-flopper on TPP. They both like Denmark.


Seventeen minutes in and it finally begins. And, yes, that’s Lincoln Chafee. No, I don’t know why either, but I am wondering what the Donald is going to say about it.

Chafee takes first shot? He says that in his 30 years, he has had no scandals.

Now, Jim Webb. And Chafee has climbed to fourth place.

And O’Malley in Clinton jab: He goes for: “clear about my principles.”

Bernie: No bio. Nothing personal. Instead: Crisis. One percent. Corrupt. Super PACs. Working people. Climate change. Moral responsibility. More people in jail. African-American unemployment. Education, not jails. Take back our government from a handful of billionaires.

Clinton: Bio. Personal. Specific programs. Paid family leave gets the biggest hand. Daughters as president. She was easily the best.


And so after a dozen commercials, a pretty good National Anthem, a predictable I’m-for-all-Dems Obama video and endless pregame chatter, they’ll probably begin this thing soon. So far, Tom Hanks and Kevin Spacey are winning. And Hillary is at least as authentic as either one.

6:13 p.m.

Finally, a Democratic debate. Hillary vs. the Bern vs. the Joe Biden TV ad vs. the Other Guys.

Let’s try out some predictions.

One, it will be a better debate than most people think. And if it is a good debate, the Dems will be forced to have more than six. It’s the least they could do for small-d democracy.

Two, Hillary Clinton is a good debater and will have a good debate on the merits — she beat Obama nearly every time in 2008 — but it won’t really matter, at least to the pundits. Those pundits, only some of them trustworthy themselves, will care only about untrustworthiness. Oh yeah, and authenticity, whatever that means in a politician who’s not named Bernie. She may win the debate, but will she win the debate?

Three, Bernie Sanders will get some very tough questions — from the CNN guys and, very likely, from some of the Other Guys (hint: Martin O’Malley). Can a socialist – even a democratic socialist, even an authentic democratic socialist who admits he’s not a capitalist — be elected president? He’ll get a chance early to answer that question. He’ll also get a chance to show why so many people feel the Bern. I think it’s a bigger night for him than it is for Clinton.

Four, this is not the moment that will force Uncle Joe one way or the other. That will be Oct. 22 when Clinton appears before the latest Benghazi committee.

Five, I’ll be rooting at least a little for Jim Webb. I mean, he is a writer, isn’t he?

Six, if Martin O’Malley — Hick’s buddy and the model for the Wire’s Tommy Carcetti — doesn’t break through tonight, maybe jumping to as high as 2 or 3 percent in the polls, he never will.

Seven, Lincoln Chafee.

Eight, the Donald will be live-Tweeting. What could be better for Twitter? Maybe, if all goes well, they might even take back some of those people they laid off.

Nine, the ratings won’t be as good as they’ve been for the GOP debates, but they’ll be pretty good. It’s that kind of year.