There’s the war of attrition but let’s not forget the Big War

The Democrats had a very lively almost entertaining debate last night with plenty of sub-plots. Still, it wasn’t hard to determine the candidate who stood out: Donald Trump.

Trump stood out because the six Democrats on stage seemed more focused on tearing each other down focusing on Trump. In fact, the Trump campaign I’m sure got a few video clips they can use in their effective online campaign. Probably already running.

I didn’t count but his name wasn’t mentioned often.

If any of the Democrats on stage gained or at least didn’t lose, it was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is leading the polls at the moment. Bernie sat happily (if one could tell when Bernie is happy) watching his opponents attack each other while he just fell back on the same diatribes he’s been spouting for years (the 1 percent, billionaires, capitalism and the working men and women, health care for all, pay off tuition debt). Put a nickel in any of us who pay attention and we can probably recite back all of Bernie’s talking points, almost verbatim.

Still, no one really landed a glove on him so he escapes with his lead. The only question is has he hit his ceiling in votes?

From the first minute it appeared Trump would be the focus when Massachusetts Sen. Ellen Warren quoted a negative statement about women and pulled off the punchline — it wasn’t a quote from Trump but from Michael Bloomberg, the first shot he’s taken in a debate in many years. And it showed.

Bloomberg took a lot of hits, many deserved, but for most of the debate he looked like a spoiled rich kid who wondered why he had to be there and I’d agree.

I’m not sure why he felt the need to be on the stage when he’s spending tens of millions of dollars showing ads in which he looks strong. ads that already have shot him up to second or third in the polls. He did not show that strong leader trait for most of last night. And when he tried, he didn’t pull them off (like, he doesn’t go to Turbo Tax for his taxes to get done. Uh, we knew that Mike but I’m guessing millions took it as you’re rich and they’re not. We knew that that too.)

Wisconsin Senator Amy Klobuchar followed up her best debate performance with maybe her worst as the most outstanding memory of her from this debate was her arguing with her stage neighbor — former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigeg — who may look too young but still came across more often as the adult on the stage. He may be the only one who doesn’t scream when he talks, thank goodness. Meantime, Sen. Klobuchar didn’t help herself at all last night and showed she angers quickly. One can imagine from her performance that the knock on her that she mismanges her staff probably are true.

Former Vice President Joe Biden had another so-so debate. He wasn’t heard from for about 30 minutes and I nearly forgot that he was on stage. He’s still arguing thought that he’s been in government a long time, knows other countries’ leaders by their first names and he can be president from Day One. (Uh, we know that but what kind of president will you be? And I really like him.)

Still there were no haymakers landing on President Trump. The Democrats instead stood in a circle and fired their guns. That may win the war of attrition but it won’t win in November.

Written by

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: bjaycooper.com.

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