Greg Brophy and Mike Littwin take on the Democratic debate live

Columnist Mike Littwin and Republican former state Sen. Greg Brophy blog the Democratic debate. 

Mike Littwin

9:06 Who won? Well, I doubt if this debate will have much impact on the race. O’Malley probably helped himself a little. He might even get to 4 percent. Bernie may not have dominated the debate, but it’s amazing how much his ideas have. I was thinking he’d come harder at Clinton, who was on the defensive much of the night. The 9/11 gaffe is one of those 3-day gaffes. But Clinton was at the center of the debate, and she came out of it still at the center of the debate.

Greg Brophy

9:02 So who won? Probably Hillary. This thing is just a formality anyway, unless she gets indicted. Martin O’Malley should be taken more seriously. He delivers his lines well. He’s as far to the left as any of them, but he can’t seem to get traction. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how anyone can like Bernie. He’s grouchy, as bad as Trump, and he gesticulates wildly. He’s a caricature of a politician. It probably says more about the extreme nature of a large fraction of the Democratic Party than it does about Bernie. They just want a socialist.

8:53 MOM – can’t remember a thing he said, but he said it well.

Hillary – I’m thinking about all of you. The president should do everything she can do to lift up the people in this country. I will work my heart out.

Bernie – there is more income inequality here than anywhere else, highest rate of childhood poverty, corrupt campaign finance.  We need a political revolution.  Turn off the TV, and let’s take back our country. Become part of the political revolution.

8:50 Describe a crisis that you faced.

Clinton – the choice to go after Osama bin Laden.

Bernie – I was chairman of veterans affairs, and I was determined to make VA healthcare the best in the world. I had a great plan that I couldn’t get through, so I started over and got a compromise, that’s my crisis.  And that was a huge failure, says me.

MOM – there is no crisis at the state level that compares, but I learned disciplines that prepared me.  I’ve been tried by natural emergencies and those caused by druggies.

Mike Littwin

8:48 Oops, O’Malley doesn’t come up with a crisis. Not sure why.

Greg Brophy

8:44 It’s ironic that most of the commercials seem to come from pharmaceutical companies during this #demdebate.

8:41 Bernie wants socialized medicine.  We will get it when we get campaign finance reform.  Then we’ll get single payer. Clinton likes ACA.  We need to defend it.  Bernie wants to eliminate Obamacare and all of the programs and then turn over the administration of healthcare to the states.

8:38 Cooney wants Bernie to explain how free college isn’t just throwing money away when 1/3 of the kids never graduate.  Bernie says it’s a great investment. We will make public colleges tuition free.  Cooney where do the states come up with this money? Bernie, well, no answer so it must be from the unicorn ranches.

And MOM wants debt free college graduation.  More grants, freeze tuition, lower interest rates on college debt.  Our daughters graduated with a mountain of debt.  We were proud of them when they graduated.  Reminded of it every month

Hillary’s doesn’t want free for everyone.  Trumps kids shouldn’t get free college.

Mike Littwin

8:32 Martin O’Malley has proved tonight that he’s someone to be taken seriously, which doesn’t necessarily mean he will be. Bernie has a lock on the liberal vote — and did nothing tonight to discourage anyone who cheers his every idealistic note — and Clinton has a lock on the Dem establishment vote. Not sure where O’Malley can fit in.

Greg Brophy

8:30 Dickerson to MOM: Is there a Ferguson affect, are cops refusing to police dangerous areas?  No answer to that, but black lives matter.  First one to get that in.

Mike Littwin

8:29 Clinton does the front-runner thing and says the Dems all agree on the important issues, but those Republicans …

Greg Brophy

8:28 Dickerson to Hillary, can you assure us, with the FBI investigating, that there won’t be another shoe to drop on the email issue?  Hillary, yes, 11 hours covered it all, let’s get to what the American people want us to talk about.

Mike Littwin

8:27 Great answer by Bernie on Hillary emails, Part Deux.

Greg Brophy

8:26 Obradovich asks Bernie about Hillary’s emails, are they a problem? Bernie, no. Hillary cackles.

Mike Littwin

8:34 Clinton tried to explain her 9/11-Wall Street line, saying they contributed to her because of how she had worked with them in rebuilding city’s economy. It’s the biggest gaffe of the night – and the one that may stick after the debate.

Greg Brophy

8:22 Are we there yet?

8:14 Oh goodie, gun control. Hillary berns him on voting to protect gun manufacturers from liability. She wants to go after the gun lobby.  Background checks, close the gun show loophole. MOM is doubling down on all of them.  I’m the best at gun control

8:10 MOM wants to re-instate Glass-Steagall too, a modern version. So two out of three Democrats wants to repeal Dodd-Frank.  I’ll take that. Bernie: “Wall Street representatives will not be in my cabinet.”

Mike Littwin

8:08 Bernie starts by hitting Clinton on Wall Street and campaign contributions. Clinton hits back by saying Sanders impugned her integrity. But then she says that Wall Street backs her because of 9/11.

Greg Brophy

8:06 Mrs. Brophy’s comment in watching Bernie.  He doesn’t like her (Clinton) much.

Hillary: Bernie impugned my integrity. Then she pulls the gender card.  64% of my donors are women.

8:05 Hillary, can you regulate Wall Street when you take so much money from them? Ouch. Well, billionaire hedge fund managers must think that I am coming after them because two of them are attacking me with ads in Iowa right now. Bernie thinks that answer is not good enough.  Why has Wall Street been a major donor to her forever?  Because they aren’t dumb.  They expect to get something. Re-establish Glass-Steagle.

Mike Littwin

8:03 Democrats go after Wall Street. Republicans go after crony capitalism.

Greg Brophy

7:59 The commercial quality is seriously lacking compared to the #gopdebate.

7:58 Sounds like we get to attack Wall Street next. These pikers won’t be able to hold a candle to E. Warren, but they’ll try.

7:58 Hillary is defending her plan for $12 minimum wage. Not sure that’s a smart move if you are bidding for votes with other people’s money

7:57 MOM when workers make more money they spend more money! Btw, MOM is Martin O’Malley.  It’s just easier to type MOM.

7:55 Obradovich to Bernie: If raising the minimum wage results in job loss, how much job loss is acceptable? No answer from the Bern, except that we need a living wage and I apologize to nobody.  He did acknowledge there are consequences, so Obradovich comes back to jobs loss when the wage is raised too high.  Bernie doesn’t care, he wants a minimum wage.

Mike Littwin

7:53 The problem for Democrats, as far as debates go, is that they agree on most stuff. It’s mostly, particularly for Bernie, a matter of degree.

Greg Brophy

7:52 Cooney to Clinton: You said you’d go farther than the president on immigration. What are you going to do?  She wants amnesty for 11 million people. Let’s move toward bringing them out of the shadows and on a path to citizenship.

7:51 Coney is asking about secure borders. MOM are you willing to compromise on this issue, to ultimately get to comprehensive immigration reform?  Will you work on secure borders first? Not much of an answer except to poke fun at the carnival barker @realdonaldtrump. Our symbol is the Statute of Liberty, not a barbwire fence.

Mike Littwin

7:50 Is there any question that Dickerson is winning the debate – or that he’s better than any moderator so far?

Greg Brophy

7:49 The CNBC hosts in Boulder were petty and biased.  Dickerson and company are asking hard questions about policy not personality.  Kudos to them for being serious.

Mike Littwin

7:49 Now Bernie brings in Ike. He notes that whatever tax rate he goes to for top earners, it won’t be as high as 90 percent in the ’50s. Bernie gets off line of debate so far by saying he’s not as much a socialist as Ike.

Greg Brophy

7:45 Hillary waxing glowing about Obamacare. We worked so hard for so long to get it.
I will build on and improve the ACA.  I have a significant difference with Sen. Sanders. He was on committee that wrote ACA, now he wants to take on big Pharma. He wants healthcare as a right not a privilege.

7:43 Now Bernie gets to explain his free college plan. Cordes: What tax rate do you propose on the rich? Let’s Bern corporate loopholes, tax Wall Street speculation.  They have gotten away with murder for years.  How high?  Not 90 percent, he says (Hillary laughed out loud).  “I’m not as much of a socialist as Eisenhower!”

MOM is talking 70%.

7:40 Cordes to MOM: You raised taxes in Maryland. Is that your blueprint for your Presidency?  Yes. And let’s eliminate the entitlement of low capital gains tax rates.

7:39 On to the economy. And Hillary is first to suggest taxing the rich.  That’s how we pay for all the unicorn ranches.

Mike Littwin

7:39 Dickerson went hard after Clinton, who is definitely more hawkish than the typical Democrat. While Clinton as on the defensive for the entire segment, that will probably hurt her less post-Paris than it would before.

Greg Brophy

7:38 So not much of a plan for ISIS from the #demdebate.  Compare with this from one of the GOP.

Mike Littwin

7:37 O’Malley hit just the right chord with his “boots on the ground” comment.

7:35 Greg et al insist that it’s important to use the word Islam in describing the enemy, whether it would drive more Muslims toward the radicals or not. Nope, I don’t understand it either.

Greg Brophy

7:33 Question to Hillary: How can we ensure that we properly screen these refugees? Her answer is that it’s important that we get this right. No duh, how do we do that? Now she’s on Russia.  I thought she reset our relationship with them?

7:32 Bernie wants to continue bringing refugees here. MOM want to accept 65,000 refugees from Syria.

7:30 Dickerson wants a question on refugees, but Bernie is stalling.  This is a point he needs to push.  He’s been good so far, let’s see if he can get there on refugees.

7:29 Dickerson – Mrs. Clinton would you declare war on ISIS? We have a use of force resolution in place.

7:28 Hillary, are we at war with radical Islam?  She just won’t go there. Now, Dickerson is asks her about empathizing with the adversaries, a quote from her from a year ago. Dickerson – will either of the other of you us the term radical Islam? and Bernie won’t. MOM calls it radical jihadis. And wants “our Muslim neighbors” to be our first line of defense. They need to stand up and be a part of this.

Mike Littwin

7:27 Libya is a big problem for Clinton. Even Obama has conceded it didn’t work out the way we had hoped. While she’s clearly the most knowledgeable person on foreign policy in the debate, she has been intimately involved with a lot of things that have gone wrongi

7:24 Sanders makes a strong case for saying that the countries in the region have to put boots on the ground in the fight with ISIS. Clinton makes the same argument, but gets more specific.

Greg Brophy

7:22 Dickerson asks Hillary if there was a plan for after the topple of Libya? She claims the Libyans elected moderate leaders, but they have a little stability problem there now. Can you say understatement? At least MOM calls it a mess

7:20 Bernie says this is a war for the soul of Islam.  Muslim nations have to put boots on the ground and they aren’t doing it.  Hillary points out that Jordan is involved now.

Mike Littwin

7:17 Sanders goes after Clinton for Iraq vote, saying we can blame Iraq vote for terrorism today. Clinton responds that there was terrorism — read: 9/11 — before Iraq. And then O’Malley goes after her for the vote.

Greg Brophy

7:15 Bernie still thinks global warming is the greatest threat we face.  It causes terrorism to which Mrs. Brophy said What!!!???? And he says the invasion of Iraq led to the rise of al-Qaeda (yes) and ISIS moderator ties that to Hillary’s vote.

Boy this is good.

Mike Littwin

7:13 O’Malley says he disagrees with Clinton and then goes on to basically agree with Clinton.

Greg Brophy

7:13 MOM thinks this is America’s fight.  We need to confront evil when it arises.

7:12 Did this admin (of which you were a part) drop the ball on ISIS? Hillary – this can’t be an American fight. Dickerson is really holding her feet to the fire. You missed it in the past how can we trust you in the future. Hillary, well it’s Bush’s fault and Maliki.

Mike Littwin

7:10 Hillary said ISIS shouldn’t be “contained,” which was the word that Obama has used to describe the effort against ISIS. You can see in the opening minutes showing a slight separation from Obama.

7:09 Clinton said she would lay out a plan for doing a “better job.” It’s not so easy for her to make the case for a “better” job since she was so involved in the Obama administration.

Greg Brophy

7:08 Sanders opening seems off topic tonight – a touch on ISIS and then all about how unfair things are in America. Hillary takes on the real subject without any depth. MOM goes after the chance of a terror attack here.

Mike Littwin

7:07 Bernie did as expected — talked about ISIS only briefly in his intro. I wonder how that will play.

Greg Brophy

6:20 What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday I wrote that the #demdebate would be a waste of time as we all know it’s not a primary, but is instead a coronation.

Now Paris.

It’s suddenly important.  Will John Dickerson ask the questions for which America needs answers?

Will Hillary acknowledge that Islamic jihadism is a greater threat than global warming?

Will Dickerson ask her, are Islamic terrorists more of an enemy than Republicans?

Will Hillary have a strategy to actually defeat ISIS?

Will any of them call for a moratorium on refugees from the Middle East and North Africa?

Any movement on border security?

Will Sanders bern Hillary with her vote for the Iraq War (they have figure out how to blame Bush, can’t be Obama’s fault – Libya,  SOFA fail, red line,  etc.)

Will Hillary still insist we need more gun control?  My friend who owns a big gun store emailed today; guns are flying off the shelves.  Americans understand that what happened in Paris can happen here too.

This debate all of the sudden became very serious.  Will any of these candidates rise to the level needed to make Americans feel safe, feel confident that their Commander in Chief will protect them?

Iowa political science professor Dr. Steffan Schmidt wrote early this morning that the Paris terrorist attack is a game changer. “This is the end of the 2016 debates and campaign ‘circus'”.

Tonight, we might find out he was right.


Mike Littwin

5:14 pm I can understand why CBS wants the debate to go on as scheduled tonight. It’s a terrific newsmaker, particularly as it puts Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, on stage for two hours in the aftermath of the Paris horror. But I’m not sure why the Democratic candidates agreed.

It’s not too soon to debate what we should be doing about ISIS, militarily or otherwise, what to do in Syria in general, how the refugees should be seen (aren’t they the people fleeing the same terror or are they infiltrated by ISIS terrorists or are they a mix of both?). But isn’t it too soon for the person who may be the next president to discuss in much detail what needs to be done? If, say, Clinton were president, it would be time for furious planning with the national security team but for carefully measured speech. It’s time to be gathering intelligence, to ensure that what you say does not endanger American interests, to rethink current strategies without drawing red lines that you later need to withdraw.

I assume measured speech is what we’ll get tonight. There will certainly be no Donald belt-buckle jokes, no Hillary Marine jokes, no jokes at all.

It is a time of international sadness and horror and resolve. It is a time when politics, particularly as they play out in today’s America, look even smaller than usual.

In any case, I will be live-blogging the debate tonight along with my old friend Greg Brophy. I wished we could have moved the clock back a few days, and we could have had a rollicking go at the candidates and maybe at each other. This will be quite a different affair.


Photo credit: DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons, Flickr

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