Mar 16, 2020 · 584 comments
Chris (Berlin)
Joe Biden won the debate because he lied, and lied, and lied, and lied, and got away with it.
Richard Nichols (London, ON)
Judging by the way America has prepared and acted (reacted?) since we first heard of the pandemic, your medical system is screwed up. Someday you will see that Bernie is right.
Robert K (Chicago)
No-cost Covin-19 testing and treatment. Hold harmless government support for lost wages. Medicare for all who want it. A woman vice-president. A black woman Supreme Court Justice. Free public college education for children from families making less that $125,000. Taxing capital gains the same as ordinary income, generating enough to pay for free college (no more tax loophole for private equity or hedge fund managers). Returning to the Obama tax rates which existed at a time when job creation under Obama (last three years) exceeded Trump’s. Returning to, and ramping up, the Paris Climate accord, with Biden’s international credibility to get other countries to act. How could Sanders say international buy-in was no big deal when most of the pollution is outside US? No new gas drilling (but continuing to produce the gas we need while we make the transition to renewables; after all, we need something to keep the lights on at night until we figure out how to store the electricity). A path to citizenship for immigrants currently in the country. How is all of this not the kind of progressive agenda we need and that we have a chance of actually accomplishing under current circumstances? Sanders has several valid critiques but has never accomplished any change because he cannot make the compromises and build the coalitions necessary to make it happen. Biden, with some of Sander’s ideas and his support, will prevail.
Frank F (Santa Monica, CA)
Only in the New York Times could a candidate whose behavior in the debate was "dishonest," "smarmy," "defensive," not-exactly-fair (ahem, patently unfair) to everyone's favorite country (Italy), and whose "perennial issue is having to convince voters that he can fix these problems, when he helped create many of them as a leader in the Senate" receive a solid 8/10 from the pundits who used these very words.
Barbara (SC)
As the article pointed out, Biden has the experience of being in an administration. Sanders does not. Biden also has more experience in foreign affairs and in working across the aisle. Biden was not my first choice, but he's my choice now.
blgreenie (Lawrenceville NJ)
The best thing about this debate was what was missing. The audience. Both men seemed more at ease and more natural with no audience.
Gary Valan (Oakland, CA)
I was blown away by the tone deafness of Biden when he questioned the cost of Bernie's M4A proposal. Did he even realize the hit the country is facing and will face when the Coronavirus really gets going? What will the cost be then? Instead he proposes Medicare for some people, leaving the rest in the cold. But it looks like the center right won again supported by cheerleading of the two newspapers of record, The Times and The Washpost. If Biden wins, and I not sure he will, we'll have another cadre of the revolving door types from Wall Street running our economic policy, the industry insiders back in positions of influence in the Government. But we will have experts instead of Trumpian grifters, losers and hangers-on out of the Government. At least that's a plus. But then we'll have to endure at least another 4 years of Government inaction on any useful policies for the working classes. Like how Muslims bow and pray towards Mecca five times a day, Biden's Government will bow East towards Wall Street...
Meg (AZ)
@Gary Valan Inaction has only occurred when the GOP have had the White House or control of congress - sadly this happens too often Biden's plans are quite progressive you should go to his website Bernie's plan is expected to cost about 4 times our entire defense budget per year and it is true that in places like Italy with a Bernie style plan there are many people dying at home with no treatment due to the lack of capacity. M4A would change the billing route but not likely the regular everyday capacity of our system Regardless of the system used to deliver healthcare these countries and ours were not prepared for such a potential surge in cases In addition, because most of the Senate seats up for grabs in 2020 are in red or red leaning states, there was no way Bernie would have been able to bring the Senate with him if he was the nominee and get M4A done - they all know this. To get some of these senate seats in these states and like my state of AZ, we would need a moderate So, Joe Biden does have a shot at getting important legislation done on healthcare, climate change and taxes and education etc In addition Bernie's plan costs several times our entire defense budget per year and this does not include the money needed to address the extra capacity needed in a crisis like this. Joe was right - at this moment in time it would not have changed the dynamic of the crisis Please go to Joe's website - it might make you feel more hopeful about getting things done
Tom P (Millerton, New York)
Biden and Sandersw spent too time in the past, attacking each other's voting records. Bernie won that hands down. With the exception of gun stuff, where Bernie represented his rural gun-owning constituents, he's been consistently progressive for decades. Biden can't be accused of being a man of principle. He's opted for realpolitik often, with no scarcity of bad votes. I find this depressing and unpresidential. That role needs a visionary, someone who exemplifies the lion, not turn him into sausage. Sure Biden's better than Trump—who isn't? What hope I still have resides in his choice of veep. A dynamic crusader for long-repressed Democratic ideals might accomplish something; a small-idea kumbaya centrist liberal like Amy Klobuchar would mean we'd spend the next four years trying to repair Trump's wanton damage without offending anyone, while the empowered oil and coal barons, the real estate tycoons, the agribiz and utility execs, fight the claw-backs with everything they've got.
Meg (AZ)
@Tom P You might want to go to the fact check sites like Politifact, and see the fact check of the debate. Yes, Bernie has 3 super PACs and 6 501(c)(4)s - which are also known as dark money donors Look at facts - facts are facts!
EB (San Diego)
Hearing Joe Biden basically lie about his record on Social Security was very painful. We already have a liar in the White House. Watching Biden suddenly say that expanded healthcare and forgiving some student debt were good ideas was painful as well. It's the old "promise anything to be elected" game and I've had my lifetime fill of it. At exactly the age of Senator Sanders, I just donated more of my hard earned money to him. The media should look in the mirror and take responsibility for shoving a tired and Republican - lite candidate (Biden) down the noses of Americans.Senator Sanders' resilience, consistency, honesty, and leadership are what we need in these times. And I believe that only he can beat Trump in November.
Meg (AZ)
@EB Actually Politifact, WaPo, Fact Check, CNN's fact check and others have stated that Bernie is the one lying about Biden's record on Social Security. Biden has never voted to cut Social Security, yet Bernie has been running ads with misleading and edited video that removed context to suggest that Biden has been for this. When first confronted with the edited video, Bernie first pretended he had nothing to do with it - now he is doubling down. Biden never praised the Ryan Plan and this is shown as False on the fact check sites, like Politifact and they show how Bernie edited the video to make it seem so. In a crisis, Biden said he might agree to a spending freeze for the entire budget when the GOP had control of congress and when they were threatening a shut down the gov and default on debt. He had said he 'would consider' raising the retirement age depending on the package - but it never even came to that where it was proposed. So nothing ever even happened. Biden has actually never ever done anything to Social Security and has never been for cutting it. Go to Politifact and look up the debate fact checks and Bernie's claims about Biden and Social Security. Bernie is the one not being honest and distorting facts Now Bernie is running prime time TV ads in my swing state with these false claims about SS and Biden and Bernie could cost the election and a Senate seat.
James (WA)
I don't get the NY Times. You spend the last week on Op Eds saying that we need paid sick leave to deal with the coronavirus. In other words, we need progressive policies that help the working class right now. I've seen articles that argue the lack of universal health care is one of the challenges in the coronavirus. It's clear that centrists are NOT pragmatic, they are just really good at winning elections. Or maybe just primaries, you guys lose to Republicans all the time. That progressive policies would have made us more prepared for coronavirus. By your own admission. And yet you still cheerlead for Joe Biden. The fact that Biden did not have a senior moment is not 9/10. That Biden will have a woman VP is such an overt move. SJWs are so easily manipulated. I don't think a woman VP would change the current crisis. We need leadership, not token VPs. I think there is a strong correlation between the lack of preparedness for coronavirus + its fall out and the lack of leadership by centrist Democrats for decades. I think Bernie needs to do a better job of making this case. I think we need to make fundamental changes in this country and we needed to do so yesterday. I can't believe how two-faced the NY Times is in pointing this out.
RRI (Ocean Beach, CA)
If Biden called for any more "surging," he'd have tailored a new suit right there on stage.
ezra abrams (newton, ma)
Maybe I am misreading the opinions here, but it seems that the most important thing to Times pundits is that Biden appeared good on TV never mind his long track record of cutting soc security, supporting the balance budget amendment (an IQ test if there ever was one), Anita Hill No, Times columnists think he performs well sad bigly
L (Honolulu)
Overall, I thought that Biden looked very presidential, very distinguished, spoke clearly and lucidly, all things that we would like to see return to the presidency of this country. Bernie has ideas, some really good ones, but his demeanor is not presidential, more college professor (which I recognize because I am one). Number 2, as Biden likes to say, I think going back 20-30 years and taking things like the social security debate out of the context of the moment, is disingenuous. As fact checkers have pointed out, never did Biden vote for a bill with a SS cut in it. But politics being what they are, it might have been necessary to put "all things" on the table, for the debate, for the negotiation, but to hold back a vote if in fact SS was going to actually be cut. I was very happy to see Biden handle the questions quite well. Also being an old dude, I know that sometimes details escape a person when talking about something. But, Biden will have a raft of smart, hopefully progressive as well as moderate, aides, and the details will get worked out for policies that will benefit the nation. So, stop with the detailed dissection of whether he got every factoid correct. It won't matter to his leadership ability. What does matter is his empathy quotient. Period!
Jean (Cleary)
We have an honest Broker in Bernie Sanders. But I guess that is not what the Democrats or the DNC want. In these perilous times Bernie has the answers and the commitment. Biden is just the same old, same old but given what is going on right now with the Trump Administration handling of the Coronavirus, and the steep drop in the Stock Market, no one is in the mood for too much change. So we will all have to settle for hoping that Biden is up to the task of knocking Trump out of office. I hate hoping. We need real change. It is proven over and over every day.
richard g (nyc)
The Times columnsists doing the grading seem pretty happy with the "good old Joe" narrative. He didn't shoot himself in the foot. How great is that. Just what I want in a PRESIDENT. If he were running for the president of the local kiwanis club he would be a hit. What the columnists don't want to do is raise the bar. And more importantly, four years of good old Joe will just allow the corporate leaders to become more entrenched in our political system as the owners. Bernie would challenge them NOW. Waiting will move us further on the road where there is no turning back and an oligarchy is just around the corner (many say it is already here). Capitalism has no conscience. Remember that.
Ken (St Louis)
Like many others, I've been wondering how Trump's supporters can listen to an ignorant, mean-spirited, bumbling con artist and somehow hear the voice of a great leader. And after watching last night's debate, and every one before it, I've been wondering how so many NY Times columnists and comment writers could possibly have concluded that Biden did better than Sanders. Our political views and preferences inevitably shape our comparisons of the debaters, so let's forget about Sanders for a moment and just focus on Biden's performance. Frankly, it wasn't very good. He has decades of governmental experience to draw upon, but most of his memories of those decades are self-referential. His extemporaneous answers to questions about situations in which he was involved (such as the auto industry bailout) are mostly about himself; he remembers his own role but doesn't recall other key aspects of the events. Few of his answers were crystal clear, and the problem is not simply that he has a hard time expressing himself. The deeper problem is that he has a hard time formulating coherent, richly informed answers, especially under pressure. Biden has many strengths as a candidate and as a leader, but debating is not one of them. If you thought that his debate performance was great, or that it was better than Sanders', you were overlooking his deficits. Unfortunately, they are too significant to ignore.
RRI (Ocean Beach, CA)
Basically, Sanders and the Corona virus have won the ideological battle in the Democratic party, even if Biden is the nominee. Last night, it was almost comical seeing Biden try to muster "the fierce urgency of now" for a range of proposals to address the failings of our healthcare and economic system under the strain of this crisis that look remarkably like, in their effects, Sanders' Medicare for All and more direct federal interventions on behalf of average working Americans. Just try to take them back and return to "normal" vague "moderate" incrementalism after the emergency passes, which is clearly the intent of Biden & company. Good luck on that. It's not going to be as easy as declaring "Mission Accomplished." The American people are going to have new expectations and far less patience with any Democratic administration and Congress that try to deliver only "moderately."
Mike (Dallas, TX)
Why it was a great night for Joe [Biden]: 1. He remembered he was NOT running for the Senate; 2. He remembered the difference between his wife and his sister 3. He remembered NOT to recite the Declaration of Independence; 4. He remembered to FORGET his voting record in the U.S. Senate; 5. He remembered the women's vote a la V.P. choice; Sanders lost last night because: 1. He refused to keep pushing Joe to remember BAD votes; 2. He refused to expand on basic 'Medicare for All' idea; 3. He refused to remind Joe that 'children in cages' occurred under his and Obama's watch; 4. He refused to force Joe to admit that Obama is still the 'deportation king' of American history; 5. He refused to say "Obama 2.0" isn't a plan to win!
Meg (AZ)
@Mike Please go to Politifact and fact check Bernie Sanders and the debate. I find it odd that Bernie supporters don't seem to care to do this. However, I suspect as more have chosen to do so, this has caused Biden to gain an enormous lead while Bernie now trails by double digits in all the states scheduled to vote tomorrow and by 40 pts in Florida. So, please do yourself a favor and go to the reputable fact check sites. Don't you think it was odd that Biden encouraged people during the debate to got to fact check and Politifact and reputable sites while Bernie wanted people to go to youtube? Bernie might as well have said read the news on facebook. Bernie has already been called out on more than one occasion for heavily edited videos that remove so much context as to create a misleading impression like for his Obama/Bernie commercial and his Biden and SS video -to me this is more than a red flag. It shows he is willing to intentionally mislead the public and those who support him. We do not need more of this.
Dobbys sock (Ca.)
@Meg You need to go back and reread those articles more closely. Politifact called Sanders’s ad “mostly false” because Biden’s “current policy is to increase Social Security benefits.” However, Politifact acknowledged that the ad contained “elements of truth” due to Biden’s past comments. The WP took a similar tack and noted that Biden currently supports expanding Social Security, while Sanders is focusing on older remarks that “came during periods when a growing budget deficit was a major concern in official Washington.” In the debate, Sanders attempted to boil the issue down to a much simpler question: Had Biden ever advocated for cuts to Social Security? Biden said no. But Biden did indeed talk about the need for Social Security cuts on the floor of the Senate. In Senate remarks from '95 that have been highlighted by Sanders’s campaign, Biden noted that he had repeatedly called for cuts as part of efforts to reduce the deficit and balance the budget. Joe said, “When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well. I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans’ benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the government. And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time." Who's misleading Meg? Who has repeatedly lied about his past, his plagiarism, his record? Biden has a history of misleading statements. https://theintercept.com/2020/01/13/biden-cuts-social-security/
Meg (AZ)
@Dobbys sock Once again - Biden was never for cutting Social Security! Saying he might consider a 1 year freeze on all spending in a crisis (which the GOP proposed) depending on what the package contained is not saying he was for cutting social security - even saying he might entertain an age increase - once again depending on the rest of the package - is not a cut - they may have demanded more money per year if the age was raised - there is simply nothing to say Biden was FOR cutting the programs - zero. So, yes what Bernie said was mostly false and when you consider the ads he is running claiming Biden was for cutting it.... It is bad enough and could cost us the election if seniors buy into the lies - fortunately most of us older folks remember when all this was happening and know Joe and the history - so we know it is lies (but Bernie knows he is lying as well)
Dana (Hilton Head Island)
I found Biden's "Italy single payer" rebuttal weak and disingenuous. National health care does not keep the coronavirus -- or any contagious disease -- away. It was lack of national leadership and preventative behavior early on that made COVID-19 such a disaster in Italy. Now, all EU countries are heading towards lockdown. If anything, the national health service EU countries helps in getting much needed care to all citizens and coordinating across regional hospitals. National healthcare is the artery for information and treatment -- unlike the US -- which is a hodge podge of different systems, care groups, insurance groups etc.
Kilgore Trout (Los Angeles)
The upcoming primaries are going to be a challenge to the safety of voters and poll workers. Bernie needs to concede now. It's over. It's not worth the life of a single voter.
Lucy Cooke (California)
@Kilgore Trout Sanders should not concede. This pandemic highlights the obscene, colossal and growing inequality in America where the richest .1 percent take in 196 times as much as the bottom ninety percent. https://inequality.org/facts/income-inequality/ Sanders is the President America needs now, to lead the way to medicare for all, as this pandemic will be showing the insanity of the current health care systems. And, as this pandemic will exacerbate the already grotesque inequality, America needs Sanders to lead the way in restoring equality of opportunity for all. President Sanders 2020! A Future To Believe In!
Bill (New Zealand)
The winner last night was the format. Please, may all future debates be without audiences.
catstaff (Midwest)
Bernie had an unenviable task: Make the case for broad, systemic reform in the face of a crisis that has everyone frightened and looking for relief that will come sooner rather than later. It's a tough sell, and I say this as someone who voted for Bernie (after Warren departed the race). But Bernie makes a good point, even if it does sound a bit "water over the dam"-ish right now: If we had universal health care, child care, and other economic guarantees for workers, our response to COVID-19 would have been quicker, smoother - and would be generating a little less anxiety. It' certainly better than what Trump is doing to mount an aggressive crisis-targeted response to meet workers' and families' needs. But I'd be happier if we'd put the pieces of a robust health care and social safety net in place long ago so we wouldn't be creating it on the fly.
Frans Verhagen (Chapel Hill, NC)
This was a good performance on both sides. The debate showed two strong candidates with their different short-term and long-term vision, where Biden emphasized the short-term and Sanders the long-term.
Karl S (Seattle WA)
Statement and Question? Biden claims Obama's actions rescue the Banks saved the country from a depression. True, taxpayers' money did save the Banks, Wall Street and they're CEOs and wealthy investors/owners all in the first year of the financial crisis – but not the Taxpayers! There was no quid pro quo/help in return for the rest of America. - millions lost their homes - millions lost their jobs - millions saw losses in their retirement or future retirement income potential - millions lost healthcare access due to loss of job and/or home - millions of people with student loans were required to continue to pay Banks 8% or more on their loans. While the banks continued to receive nearly interest-free taxpayer money from the feds. Meanwhile, if you lost your job the Banks added fees compounded the interest driving up the total cost of your student loans encumbering a whole generation with heavy debt. This is the fundamental problem with Biden and the rest of the so-called "moderate" Democrats, the status-quo (that got us trump) and earned over the past thirty years these "moderate" Democrats the nick-name Corporate or Wall Street Democrats. Prediction: Biden, last night had the option to "invite/include" Progressive Democrats wing into his campaign – he didn't, he failed an important opportunity. Biden must pick a progressive as Vice President, the best choice a woman who could unite the party Elizabeth Warren with knowledge, ideas, and plans to move America forward.
Meg (AZ)
@Karl S Biden's claim was rated as true on the fact check sites regarding the bank bailout. The banks did pay interest and they paid all the money back ahead of schedule. The payback amounts can even be found on the CBO reports and yes, it helped save us from a Great Depression. The fact that Bernie voted against it is rather scary. Bernie tends to be full of misleading information (understatement) like his claims about Biden and Social Security. Go to Politifact to see the debate factcheck.
Max (Baltimore)
I am a strong Bernie Sanders supporter. I believe a Green New Deal is the only way to ensure a habitable planet. I believe health care is a human right. I believe education should be accessible only to those who can afford it. I feel there is no place for me in the Democratic Party. If Biden is the nominee, I will sit this one out.
E. Sol (Portland)
@Max I hope you don't really mean it when you say: "I believe education should be accessible only to those who can afford it." Do you? Max, If Bernie will support the Democratic nominee, now is not the time to "sit this one out". There's too much at stake. Bernie has successfully shifted the conversation so that a Green New Deal and other ideas are now heard. OAC and others will continue the fight. We need you, too. All down ballot candidates need your vote, too. Yes, we're a diverse and messy bunch. Just like any family. And we need each other.
Meg (AZ)
@E. Sol Biden has always been for the Green New Deal - Bernie has pushed no one. If Bernie's supporters had gone to the other candidates websites they would see that Bernie was misleading them about the other candidates being for the status quo - their proposals were actually very progressive. Bernie wanted to paint the picture that he was the only game in town and was very dishonest about the other candidates. We can't afford to wait 4 more years to address climate change and only the Democrats will aggressively combat it. Please do not miss the opportunity to vote to tackle this problem just because Bernie intentionally mislead his followers as a strategy to drum up support for himself - it simply was never true. Biden has always been for combating climate change and even took measures as VP.
connecticut yankee (Connecticut)
@Max -- if for nothing else, think of the Supreme Court.
brian (Boston)
Don't blame Bernie supporters for the viscous posts against Biden, almost all of them calling him a liar, as if on cue. I think the bots are back, and have a meme. But it's so hard to detect them.
Hetty (Los Angeles)
@brian Calling someone out on blatant lies is not "vicious." Stop it with the bot nonsense. Even if some of the negative posts are bots, many are also from humans making perfectly valid points. Democrats are total hypocrites. Biden embodies the very things Democrats claim to hate most about Trump. Trump lies, so does Biden. Trump is a racist, so is Biden. Trump is a sexist, so is Biden. Trump is corrupt/ beholden to corporate interests, so is Biden. We cannot ignore Biden's problematic past and consistent political gaffes merely because it suits "our side" at the moment. This is exactly why Democrats will lose in 2020. And even if they "win" with Biden, I suspect they will lose much of their base -- multiracial, young, working class folks -- who are more than ready to dissociate from this hypocritical, failed democratic party that insists time and time again that they should shut their mouths and vote for the guy who is responsible for many of their problems. It's time to wake up, people. DemExit is real.
Michael (Pennsylvania)
@brian I'm most certainly not a bot. I just watched Biden's blatant lying on stage last night go unchecked by moderators and continue to go unchecked by the media. Regardless of who you support, if anyone, honesty and transparency are things that the American people need in a president, and Biden is continuing to show that he cannot deliver that. Lying is not presidential. The example of this that is perhaps the most blatant and the most telling was when Biden falsely stated that Sanders has nine Super Pacs supporting his campaign. Sanders asked Biden to name some of them, then, and Biden responded by asking Bernie to "give [him] a break". Sanders caught Biden in a blatant lie and it recieved no media coverage. If Biden wins the nomination and goes up against Trump in a debate, everyone knows that if Biden tells a lie, Fox News and other conservative outlets will call him out on it. Media outlets need to call Biden out so that he can learn to hold himself to a higher standard. But they aren't. This is because they would rather have a 2nd Trump term than a Sanders Presidency. The "Never Bernie" crowd is for some reason stronger than the "Never Trump" crowd. Clearly there are major issues with that.
HEK (NC)
@Michael I just checked, and Sen. Sanders does get Super PAC support. The main difference seems to be who is donating to the PAC.
Florida Man (Florida)
Biden lied repeatedly on the debate stage about his record and not a single notable mention of this fact appears here or seems to be factored in your analysis.
Daphne (East Coast)
The bottom line for me is that I simply do not share or frankly believe a word of Sander's negative opinion of American business. I believe Sanders is being honest about what he believes. That is the problem. He is a twisted zealot who might as well be arguing that earth is flat. His proposals, if anyone was crazy enough to enact them, would do far more damage than good. Sanders, not Trump, is the greatest danger facing America. Trump is a blow hard and will always cave, if just for self preservation, in the end. Sanders is on a mission from God and will never see reason or admit any fact that challenges his fundamental ideology. Trump has no ideology. Perhaps that is his saving grace. Biden is not my first pick, not by a long shot, but between the two of them there is no contest. Same was true for me in 2016.
Ralphie (CT)
It's ridiculous to think either won the debate. Neither appear capable of handling the presidency.
Anita (Palm Coast, FL)
"Overall, Bernie Sanders had the most consistent performance, according to our columnists and contributors, winning one contest and scoring 7 out of 10 overall. Joe Biden fared worse than Mr. Sanders in most debates, but he finally placed first in our rankings with Sunday’s debate." First: If Bernie scored 7 out of 10, how could Biden place first? Second: No president can straighten out the mess Trump has created without control of BOTH the House and the Senate. Already Mitch McConnell is urging moderate Federal judges to retire from the bench so that he can pack the court with arch conservatives in case trump loses.
LAT (Denver)
@Anita I believe they are just saying that Biden ranked first in this one debate, not across all debates. Bernie scored a 7/10 on average through all debates.
On the Spectrum (Delaware)
I don't understand why anyone would expect that Sanders was in the position to create a coalition within the Democratic Party for politically inconvenient, progressive ideas as an Independent and use this as an argument against his candidacy. Progressive Democrats in State Legislatures can barely do it and usually give up after a few years and go back to their previous life. That would totally change if has the bully pulpit of the Presidency. That said, Sanders chances for winning the Nomination are all but nil at this time and Biden and Sanders need to stay focused on Trump while freely debating what is best for the country beyond that without sniping at each other.
McEnglish (Placerville)
My heart is with Bernie and Warren. But Biden's broad appeal will win my vote because defeating Trump is the only thing that matters. Trump has proved himself to be profoundly dishonest and dangerously incompetent and maliciously divisive. Our nation deserves much, much much better. As a life-long Democrat, I never thought I would wax nostalgic about G.W. Bush, who was merely incompetent and intermittently dishonest (Iraq, WMD) but essentially patriotic and empathetic. Four more years of Trump? Unthinkable.
sheila (mpls)
"His problem, as always, is a career that includes four decades of Democratic retreats and Democratic compromises. And he still can’t quite answer for it." This is the basic problem for the democrats. How did we let this happen and what were the dynamics the republicans used? The republicans played the bully on the playground-- using arguments that the deficit shouldn't be raised by any programs the democrats wanted. Now we can clearly see how serious the republicans are about the deficit arguments. What a joke. We've been had. Next, the republicans used the cudgel of the "socialist" label. They criticized every progressive program as "socialist" and by doing so scared the democratic lawmakers that they would be painted by that brush. What a joke. Trump uses every lie he can muster and has been criticized for holding values of the white supremacist movement. Nothing scares him. He just plows on. We need to develop this perseverance for our ideals. What has been standing in our way? LOBBYISTS. When these lobbyists wave all this money under the noses of lawmakers, they create a tsunami of democratic and republican power for their position and that is very formidable. They are in essence a third party-- a shadow government. Somehow, we've got to neutralize their power. We've got an evil crook in office now who uses every trick in his nefarious book to turn us into a white supremacist banana republic. We're at a fork in the road.
Lawrence Siegel (Palm Springs, CA)
Clearly, Joe Biden as our President will be a major embarrassment. His garrulous, loquacious, inept hubris will at first amuse, and later annoy all of us. His policy decisions will be more of the same, and "no malarkey" will be the hallmark of his circa 1980's administration. We don't need another buffoon, we need a capable energetic visionary. This guy comes to us from the same insular Democratic Party that brought us our prior failed candidate, Hillary. Anyone (literally) will be superior to the Donald, but, that's a pretty low bar....and Joe barely gets over it. What kind of nation have we become?
Upper West Side (NYC, NY)
Is it true that Biden vehemently disapproved of Trump's banning of the Chinese from the USA back in February due to the Corona virus? If true, this sort of thinking would make me hesitant to vote for him.
Michael Milligan (Chicago)
Mimi Swartz -- your bias and scorn towards Bernie, who is a very decent human being-- doesn't help anything.
Rebecca Ford (Chicago, IL)
Irenic: tending to promote peace or reconciliation; peaceful or conciliatory. Dictionary.com (Peter Whener on Sanders)
Elizron (MD)
The difference between Biden and Sanders is... who's better positioned to persuade Congress to embrace their ideas and policies. Sanders claims leadership is about ideas and vision-- which he has given us. But they are only as good as they can be adopted and put in to action by the Congress. Over the years Sanders has shown little ability to accomplish anything significant in Congress. Biden, on the other hand, has been successful with Congress. The ability to get things done is what really matters. Biden has been able to get bills passed; Sanders simply has not. Ideas that have little, if any chance of passing Congress, are not what we need over the next 4-5 years. We first need pragmatic successes before taking on worthy, though controversial, policies and programs. Biden is best positioned to get us concrete gains soon; Sanders is likely to accomplish little as president if he holds fast to his rigid positions.
John (Virginia)
Biden did what he needed to. He showed that he is the adult in the room that can get things done and move the needle. Sanders proved once again that he is an idealist who cares more for ideas than process or reality. Biden will bring people together. Sanders will always be the guy that can’t take no for an answer.
Chris (Berlin)
@John The fact that he can lie constantly and coherently is just a bonus.
Dobbys sock (Ca.)
@Chris The fact our media will let Joe get away with repeatedly lying and making incoherent phrases is the bonus. Just not for most Americans.
DW NH (Bow NH)
Again, I will comment on the inappropriate nature of a pack of columnists rating the debaters. The debaters were more accurate than the reviewers on this page. As a healthcare provider caring for the immunosuppressed, , my one review point is that neither Biden or Sanders seemed to be able to describe in a clear manner how they would deal effectively with the Coronavirus crisis. Neither emphasized how important social distancing should be(leaders do that). Frankly, Biden seemed completely clueless. The "I would gather all the worlds experts in a room" and "Id order a surge "approach is a sign of ignorance on this dominant issue. He should have been able to express an understanding of the risks and emphasized specific interventions. He will be a ghost president .
DesmoHead (Clemson, SC)
No one is admitting that Bernie very purposefully gave the sometimes deer in the headlights candidate every question that Bernie would ask days before the debate? Bernie is a very good human. I wish we could elect him.
jack (Massachusetts)
@DesmoHead Me too. People like him come around so infrequently and I was hoping to see him lead in my lifetime? Unfortunately it doesn't look good.
Anita (Palm Coast, FL)
@DesmoHead The only thing that will make him president is your vote, not wishing. Give him a landslide and he cannot be denied.
Sue (California)
Biden and Bernie often talk at cross-purposes because Biden is used to the way Presidents think, and Bernie still thinks like an outsider. Bernie is factually correct that sometimes horrible dictators do positive things for their people. But Biden understands that everything a President says signals U.S. policy and intentions. The subtext can have enormous consequences. Bernie has often voted in protest on imperfect legislation, knowing that it will pass without his vote. Biden knows a President can't do that. A President often has to make the best decision possible under the current circumstances. Bernie plays an important role in the Senate and in the party, pulling it to the left. Biden is better suited to the Presidency.
JRC (NYC)
Meaningless debate. It has already been decided. Biden will be the nominee. For better or worse.
Angry (Colorado)
@JRC It will. probably be for worse.
Fluffy (Delaware)
until i got to mimi swartz i thought i was watching a different debate. i found bernie annoying beyond belief -- and i'm very sympathetic to his views. he is a johnny-one-note. i realize that's what a lot of folks like about him, but he doesn't seem capable of singing any variations on the theme in different contexts, especially how he would actually address specific issues. so you're going to take on (fill in the blank) -- how? to what end? at what cost/benefit to whom? add to that his constant interruptions, hand-waving, angry demeanor, and he just isn't someone i want to listen to for 4 years.
EpsilonsDad (Boston)
A comment on methodology. As average can be skewed by commentator's judging one candidate as a 6 and the other as a 9. It would be helpful if there was a better, even, worse tally next to the candidates. Or even just the number of better voites, with each of the commentators being required to pick the better performance.
Sam (Utah)
Biden didn't lose the debate last night, But Bernie surely was the winner. What consists of a win depends on what you are trying to win, and Bernie had near perfect debate last night in terms of what he wanted to achieve from the debate. What is obvious is Bernie has lost the primary. He knew that after the Super Tuesday, he accepted that after last Tuesday. His tone in this messaging in the past week is an indication that he has accepted defeat in the primary, but he wanted to make one last pitch to the american people that his messages shouldn't be forgotten. And he succeeded last night to make that case. He showed compassion last night. He didn't try to portray Biden as some devil like he did to Clinton in 2016. By focusing on his compassionate message of inequalities in the american communities from healthcare to housing to income, Bernie is concluding his national politics as people's advocate. He also stressed the importance of defeating Trump this year, and I hope the debate last night will help consolidate democratic party behind Biden. Bernie is right, another 4 years of Trump will make America unrecognizable to the progressives around the country. I hope all Sanders supporters will also understand the importance of defeating Trump and support Biden. Biden presidency is a trillion times more likely to act on progressive ideas including Climate change & universal healthcare than Trump. I hope the progressive sees it as a step forward, and not a step backward.
Sam (Utah)
Biden didn't lose the debate last night, But Bernie surely was the winner. What consists of a win depends on what you are trying to win, and Bernie had near perfect debate last night in terms of what he wanted to achieve from the debate. What is obvious is Bernie has lost the primary. He knew that after the Super Tuesday, he accepted that after last Tuesday. His tone in this messaging in the past week is an indication that he has accepted defeat in the primary, but he wanted to make one last pitch to the american people that his messages shouldn't be forgotten. And he succeeded last night to make that case. He showed compassion last night. He didn't try to portray Biden as some devil like he did to Clinton in 2016. By focusing on his compassionate message of inequalities in the american communities from healthcare to housing to income, Bernie is concluding his national politics as people's advocate. He also stressed the importance of defeating Trump this year, and I hope the debate last night will help consolidate democratic party behind Biden. Bernie is right, another 4 years of Trump will make America unrecognizable to the progressives around the country. I hope all Sanders supporters will also understand the importance of defeating Trump and support Biden. Biden presidency is a trillion times more likely to act on progressive ideas including Climate change & universal healthcare than Trump. I hope the progressive sees it as a step forward, and not a step backward.
John Bergstrom (Boston)
Sanders tries hard to say that Biden has advocated for Social Security cuts. That would be the Republican policy: they dislike Social Security on principle, and will advocate for cuts at every opportunity. Biden has expressed willingness to consider Social Security cuts, reluctantly, as part of negotiations about supposedly serious budget problems, under serious political constraints. But it has always been clear that as a good Democrat, he would prefer more generous Social Security benefits if at all possible. Reluctantly accepting a possibility isn't the same as advocating for cuts, and it's deceptive of Sanders to put it that way. (Plus, the Sanders campaign put out one deceptively edited video, where the meaning of Biden's words about Social Security were actually reversed, by being taken out of context.) Sanders has some very good ideas, and it's great that he is moving the party to the left, but he is falling short in the honesty department, as exemplified in this recent debate, and that is too bad. He will have to walk that back and tell the truth, if he wants to support Biden in the upcoming campaign.
Ted (Chicago)
@John Bergstrom Bernie told the truth. And Biden will need to explain those statements about Social Security during the campaign and if/when he debates Trump. Bernie did Biden another favor and hopefully his campaign staff understand the damage that could occur if Biden does not sharpen up his performance.
John Burke (NYC)
It's bizarre that some of the pro-Bernie writers still seemed to think that Sanders looked better, more energetic, even more "limber." To me, Bernie looked as if he might collapse at any moment. Biden may be 77 but he's the picture of good health and fitness. Bernie, not so much.
Ted (Chicago)
@John Burke so you had a different take than me. Biden looked ill prepared and stumbled in his answers. He needs to sharpen up or Trump will beat him. The DNC will not be able to protect their chosen candidate, Biden again by having Trump hold back.
Angry (Colorado)
Sanders stressing the need for structural change is correct. Trying to fix years of damage to our democracy piecemeal would be comparable to untangling Gordian's knot. I like Sander's approach, because when everything is interconnected it is near impossible to make needed corrections. Biden is a nice guy, but a nice guy is not what America needs. He is flat, unexciting, and without an agenda for real change. Sanders, on the other hand, has done his homework. His delivery may be a bit off-setting at times, but I feel his frustration with getting people to see what is needed when it is so clear to him.
Draw Man (SF)
@Angry Until Sanders speaks truth to paying for his pie in the sky ideas he’s got zero credibility.
jk (NYC)
I still miss Warren. Love Bernie. But will have to settle for Biden.
Dave (Seattle)
I voted for Biden, but only because Warren dropped out.
Ted (Chicago)
@Dave, so you voted for a moderate because your progressive candidate backed out? That does not speak much for your commitment to progressive issues.
HEK (NC)
@Ted However, it does speak to his desire to rid us of the plague in the White House, which will do more to ensure the possibility of progressive issues being viable in the future.
Sarah (Chicago)
Yes, let's get rid of the frequently incoherent, "let's get back to 2013!!!" moderate that helped us get Trump in the first place. Such a winning strategy. Trump has built his entire presidency out of trashing Obama at every turn, even blaming Obama for the CDC's handling of COVID-19. How do you people think that nominating someone who can't go 2 minutes without mentioning his relationship with Obama will ultimately fare against Trump? COVID-19 will hopefully rip off this sneering facade of banding together for the most 'electable' candidate. As our hospitals are overwhelmed and people are dying needlessly all over the country because they couldn't get the help they needed, I hope we remember we had a chance to vote in an FDR-style Democrat who would heal the country with a politics of compassion, not a politics of equivocation and manipulated nostalgia.
Steven Miller (Boston)
@Sarah Trump didn't win by trashing Obama. He won by trashing Hillary Clinton, and lost the popular vote. And he's never reached majority support while trashing Obama when in office. This situation, and this candidate, are totally different. So saying the party is doing the same thing it did in 2016 is, on its face, absurd.
Ralphie (CT)
@Sarah It's obscene for you to hope anything except the end of the coronavirus. And if you think Bernie or Biden would have handed this better than Trump, I've got a bridge to sell you. This is a global pandemic that started in China. If our health care system can't handle this it isn't Trump's fault. Our capacity is what it has been since the Obama admin and before.
Hadel Cartran (Ann Arbor)
I wonder how many viewers had the thought -'If only Warren was up there with Biden'. Then, when Biden made his comment regarding Medicare for all and its failure in Italy, we might have heard a reply that no, it didn't fail, any Italian who fell ill with coronavirus would not have to worry about the medical bills, or go bankrupt because of it. Yes, Italy has a shortage of respirators'. Here in Michigan this morning's radio brought the news that the Michigan Dept. of Health has the capacity to do about 150 tests/day for Covid-19 and they are already receiving many more requests from providers, so our fragmented 'system' has already 'failed' in one sense and that's before it's really tested, a situation we all hope it never comes to. Regarding Biden's Medicare-like option, we already have Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration Health, and who knows how many different private insurance plans, each with its own bureaucracy and different rules. Lord knows we don't need one more program patch after 40 years of failed patchwork attempts to provide proper health care for all. We've already tried to patch this tire too many times.
GFE (New York)
Michelle Goldberg (8/10) — "Biden’s insistence that he was never open to cutting Social Security was dishonest." So was Bernie's comparison of Canada's healthcare system to his proposal. 'Canadians can purchase supplemental private coverage for services that are not covered by the public plan, but cannot purchase private insurance for basic services. As CBC News points out, private health insurance is “a crucial part of the system,” and Canadians spent about $43.2 billion on private coverage in 2005.' - Think Progress Aug. 11, 2009 According to the Lancet report "Measuring performance on the Healthcare Access and Quality Index for 195 countries and territories and selected subnational locations: a systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016," among the top-rated healthcare systems in Europe (which Bernie frequently touts), none has followed Bernie's prescription of completely eliminating private insurance: 'Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, late Tuesday reiterated his call for the elimination of private health insurance companies and moving to a single-payer, "Medicare for all" system of health care. ... 'In that MSNBC interview, Sanders said the "current system is incredibly dysfunctional and wasteful" and said universal health care can't be achieved "unless you get rid of the insurance companies."' - The Hill, 3/27/2019 I think dishonesty about a current policy matters more, don't you?
Ted (Chicago)
@GFE your comment does not reflect what Bernie said, just your need to take a shot at him.
Alexander (Boston)
My heart is with Bernie because he speaks justice to power, but my head is Biden because he is essentially decent and has much more chance of getting rid of the evil monstrosity, Trump.
Ted (Chicago)
@Alexander, the only reason Biden is doing better is the massive anti-Bernie campaign by MCNBC, the NYT and others. The DNC also bribed moderates Klobichar and Buddagieg (both better candidates) to clear the path in exchange for future campaign cash. That cash likely will come from the insurance and pharma companies that the DNC saved. Bernie would have cleared house at the DNC and their meal ticket would have been lost so they colluded with the enemy.
Isernia2 (Buffalo, NY)
A minor point...Biden often criticized for malapropisms was pretty much on target in this debate performance, in contrast to Sanders who repeatedly, at the start of an answer, called the coronavirus SARS !
B. Miller (Hawaii)
Biden should not debate Trump. Trump does not know how to debate. All Trump knows is how to boast and lie. Forever Trumpers will shout about how Biden fears Trump but Biden has nothing to be gained by taking Trump on.
spc (California)
@B. Miller He won't have to. Trump's handlers will not allow him to debate. They can't take the risk that Trump will implode on stage and conclusively demonstrate to a nationwide audience his unfitness for office.
Adam (@paradise lost)
Bernie dominated the debate throughout. Questions to him we're turned aside and Bernie placed his emphasis where he wanted it and then the new paradigm was put as a challenge to Joe. This was not an isolated skirmish of whining, shrugs, or bombast, but a full campaign of rhetorical leadership. This does not make for a win however, but that admission at least allows for a clear view of what happened last night in spite of the the scene shifting and mood lighting introduced by the mystical Cardinals of the NYT.
awakeandtalking (outside the lines)
@Adam I agree. Bernie had the rhetorical edge the entire debate (and by that I mean he made the most compelling case for his position). Reading the analysis of the NYT contributors was depressing. Joe rates 9/10 because he didn't make a gaffe? I'm no Bernie Bro, but listening to him talk (not rant) for the first time I really wanted to see our nation shake off the shackles of corporate interests and shift the power (back?) to the people. We are better than the system we are living under. I voted for Elizabeth Warren. I'm praying she is the woman nominee for VP both Joe and Bernie have in mind.
Kathy Lollock (Santa Rosa, CA)
I can breathe a sigh of relief. Joe did well, not that I think he is incapable. On the contrary, I think for right now in time he is the ideal fit to begin undoing 3 plus years of an egregious, unstable, lying, manipulative, corrupt, and frankly insane Trump-"led" administration. Biden is known for his gaffes, for at times allowing his mouth to run faster than his brain. That is okay by me. He has proven he knows how to manage complex national and global paradigms. I like Sanders, and he is to be commended that the Democratic Party is trending back to the way it should be, it must be. The Party is about us, and from FDR onward its presidents have tried and more often than not succeeded in its efforts to bring government back to the people where it belongs. VP Biden will do that. Not as quickly as Sanders aspires. Yet we will not only get ourselves out of this mess we are in, but we will also progress toward 21st Century expectations and needs. And, alleluia, if we are not getting her as president, we will have a woman, finally, in at least the second highest office in the land. I know who I want, but for now I will keep that a secret...
Ted (Chicago)
@Kathy Lollock how can you possibly know what Biden will do as President. His history is mixed and he has done many anti-progressive things such as the crime and bankruptcy bills. I expect he will trod the same middle approach and we will have lost 4 years of progress .
raymond jolicoeur (mexico)
So, Biden was o.k. That is not going to do it against Trump. Just wait until he brings up Hunter...
Helen Guerrant Toy (Berkeley, CA)
@raymond jolicoeur Seems to me the Hunter issue is a dead horse by now. In no way is it related to the real issues facing the country this year.
Draw Man (SF)
@raymond jolicoeur Just wait until we bring up Jared and Ivanka...
Ted (Chicago)
@Helen Guerrant Toy but the Hunter issue will hurt him among independents. The optics of his son getting a high paid job because of his dad runs contrary to the anti- nepotism message we need to highlight. Biden can't say anything about Ivanka, Don Jr, nor Jared.
Russell Manning (San Juan Capistrano, CA)
I am a subscriber to the Times' print edition which includes the digital one and have been for years now. So reading this summary of opinion on the Sunday night debate by Times' opinion writers had numerous surprises: half of those who commented I've never heard of nor read anything written by. Are they included only in certain regional editions of print and digital?
midwestcentrist (Chicago)
Bernie is the "ideas candidate"? What?!!! I grew up in Venezuela and my mind is blown that so many Americans seem so enthralled with rhetoric that is verbatim, lifted from old lefty university professors I had in Caracas in the 80's. And honestly, those ideas already seemed dated in 1989!
Ted (Chicago)
@midwestcentrist that is hogwash. Socialism is not dated, the distortions about it are, like yours.
alank (Macungie)
Two old dinosaurs, looking to battle another dinosaur. I guess dinosaurs are not yet extinct.
Ken (MT Vernon, NH)
The Statler and Waldorf throw down. The only problem was I couldn’t tell which was which. These are the two old codgers the Democrats get to choose from. As if they have any chance at all. Wow.
Ted (Chicago)
@Ken yes, because the GOP candidate is so young.
jcl (hudson valley)
Joe flat out lied through his very expensive teeth. Suddenly he supports every program Bernie is suggesting. Do you believe it? I dont.
Gary (San Francisco)
Biden was Presidential: very clear and concise on what actions he would immediately take on the virus and economy, as well as practical and re-assuring to Americans and the world. Bernie was acting just like Trump: dogmatic, all about him and what he wants and like an attack animal, really disgusting. We need President Biden now. Trump should resign or be taken out of the White House in a strait-jacket.
Ted (Chicago)
@Gary you saw a different debate. I saw Biden as barely adequate in his presentation and command of facts. Bernie was knowledgeable and inspiring.
ilias (New York)
As an independent why vote for the one who helped vote in Trump in the first place? Will not vote and let's brace for another four years of Twitter!!!
Ted (Chicago)
@ilias the only people that helped vote in Trump was Trump voters. That plus Hillary had the least inspiring candidacy in modern history.
hiuralney (bronx)
NYT fact-checking showed that Biden lied repeatedly about his past positions and votes in the Senate. He took these positions to retain support of banks and insurance companies based in his home state of Delaware. No-one blames him for that. He did what he needed to do to keep his Senate seat. But he could have admitted that and apologized during Sunday's debate. Instead He lied. Now Biden says that he supports the progressive agenda. Now do we know he is not lying to us to become president? Character is important.
Alex (New York)
I just want to memorialize it here and now: Biden has no possible path to a victory in the general election against Trump. The best Trump can do against Sanders is "Communist." And that makes Trump sound like everyone's senile grandfather. But against Biden? Trump has his pick of scandals and pseudo-scandals: Anita Hill, the Student Loan Bankruptcy Bill, all the videos of Biden touching/kissing women questionably, Hunter Biden, and on and on. When Biden loses on Nov. 3, 2020, it's Biden who lost. It wasn't those mean ol' Bernie Bros. (many of whom are not men). It was the wholly inadequate candidate that the democratic party (and its watercarriers at the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media) propped up (no fair analysis of the media coverage around Sen. Sanders could be called neutral; the bias was subtle and gross and started all the way back in 2016). You. You are the reason we're going to have a second Trump term. And that will be your burden and your shame for the rest of your life.
Ted (Chicago)
@Alex I think some, like the NYT, would like another four years as their financial fortunes have improved during Trump's term. That plus they too have benefited financially from the Trump Tax give-away.
connecticut yankee (Connecticut)
"Daniel McCarthy (6/10) — As Sanders himself noted, he’s the ideological leader of his party, especially of its youth." Mr. McCarthy -- which party? Sanders is not a Democrat!
Paul F. COLE (Albany, NY)
Susan Rice would be a brilliant choice.
JoAnne (Yonkers, NY)
@Paul F. COLE Excellent!!
gene (fl)
Joe Biden entire career he has been trying to cut Social Security Medicare and Medicaid. He bragged that he is the most conservative Democrat in Congress. He lied last night over and over. You can see Bernie just baffled at a person that would do that on TV. He lied about the Iraq war. Nearly everything he claimed last night was a lie. You think Trump will just let that pass? Now Trump and Biden are both liars. There goes the biggest offence we had against Trump.
Tyyaz (California)
This debate revealed what America needs now and in the four years to come. When our house is burning, we need a fire-chief who has done it before to direct our fire fighters to rescue the inhabitants and to douse the flames.
IAmANobody (America)
I truly believe Warren and Klobuchar would be the best combo in the WH for this time and place. Unfortunately that's not to be. Yes partly because the D Party doesn't know what foot it wants to put forward and that is a problem for us as they must lead the charge to a better modern USA based on rational fair Secular Liberal Democracy; it is they that must vigorously fight the Theocratic Authoritarian Plutocracy the GOP WILL impose! And yes because our fear of Trump winning and worse our losing seats in Congress makes our right, just, and possible Progress go to the back of bus for now. "Don't scare anyone away" is the D political watch words now and that is a theoretical problem for us. But yeah the latter (losing 2020) concerns me more than the former now-a-days. I take the temperature of the water and must adjust to it - the voting physics of today just doesn't allow for big adjustment this election. I know we are sub-optimizing but we cannot lose the War for want of a battle. Not happy that that is political life today but I am a pragmatic. I'll happily take a Biden-Klobuchar to win now and avoid the abyss that the GOP with 4 more years of almost absolute power will plunge us in. We may not reach the shore as fast but we'll still be swimming toward it and not be just food for bottom feeders.
gene (fl)
Gathering of 250 people or more are now banned. This will not affect Biden's rallies. Funny but it just sounds so familiar.
JoAnne (Yonkers, NY)
@gene rally attendance does not guarantee voter turn out. Just ask Bernie
Marylee (MA)
Both men are heads and shoulders better than the buffoon now in the WH. I believe Biden has the better edge to beat 45 with disaffected independents and even some republicans. I like that he's leaning more progressive, as well.
Bill Virginia (23456)
What a predictable snore, the debate and your summation. You found Joe can speak and breath at the same time and Bernie calmed down a degree. Joe "has"to pick a woman running mate since women were told by the democrats to "shut up" for 4 more years. As predictable as the loss in November!
Carol Colitti Levine (CPW)
Seriously. Joe knew what day it was so he gets 7/10? These two geezer guys are perfect candidates for the Senate. In 1980. They loved debating those old-timey votes back in Teddy Kennedy's day. Joe made the huge news that he'd pick "a woman" for Veep. Wow. Such vision. These are the choices we have for our leaders of the future? Sad.
Michael (Pennsylvania)
Why isn't anyone commenting on how Biden told blatant lies on stage and wasn't fact-checked at all by anyone? Surely if we want to engage in proper journalism this needs to be covered.
Andrew (Seoul)
Yeah...do whatever to make Joe Biden be the President of the United States. But please note that if NYT and other news outlets try to make Joe Biden compete against President Trump in November, the U.S. citizens are going to see the emperor of Trump world as a president of the U.S. for the next four years again.
617to416 (Ontario via Massachusetts)
Seriously, can we bring back Elizabeth Warren?
DameAlys (Portland, OR)
Finally, a reversal of what had appeared to be a consensus among NYT opinionators that Biden lacked what it took to beat Donald Trump and lead the country. It's about time. It was beginning to seem incontrovertible that the Times was essentially drumming to keep perceptions off-kilter, knowing that this would generate greater anxiety among reader-voters, and likely, therefore, more profits for the newspaper. This year has not marked a high point, overall, for Times columnists handicapping the Democratic primaries. It may be that there will be greater interest, now, in serious considerations of national health. We need relevant, reasoned observations and analysis, not a front-row seat at a tennis match.
Carolyn Egeli (Braintree Vt)
Not the way I saw it. Biden lied and plagerized again. The money people love Biden. He lies naturally. Just like Trump.
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
If you are anything other than a member of Trumps Cult, you must VOTE, and you must Vote for Joe Biden. This is no longer entertaining, fun, or cute. Drop Out, Bernie. Actually Work to Elect Joe. This Pandemic should be a tornado siren wake-up call : WE need a real Leader, not a Carnival Barker. NOVEMBER.
JT FLORIDA (Venice, FL)
In the list of potential VP picks for Biden there are some of the people sharing the stage with him in other debates as obvious choices: Harris, Warren, Klobuchar, Gilibrand.( He’s probably not selecting Tulsi Gabbard) But not to forget: Stacy Abrams, Gretchen Whitmer( MI Gov) Michelle Obama(a virtual lock if she would accept)
gene (fl)
Joe lying about his attempts to cut Social Security will be his downfall. Trump can say everyone lies and now they are both liars. Equal playing field. Trump will another four years.
Hortencia (Charlottesville)
Yes Mr. Duran! Biden must stop taking the bait because Trump will zero in on this weak spot and savagely attack. Narcissists have lightening rod antenna for identifying weak spots.
Tommy2 (America)
Two eighty year old has-been's with forty and fifty year careers in politics and enough baggage of their own to sink a battleship . . . and they are the saviors. They have been in politics all their lives and achieved nothing. Why, all of a sudden, are they going to make a difference now?
one percenter (ct)
Biden promises to put a woman on the ticket. What if men are better at this than any woman currently. Oh, I know what this is-discrimination!!! Pandering. I will vote for Trump.
tom (midwest)
Now the guessing game begins, which woman?
Anoop (NY)
Biden: We will give free treatment and testing to ALL during the corona crisis. And what about AFTER the crisis? Do people lives only matter during corona or a virus outbreak? Why not let people die just like they do without insurance. The stupidest logic ever. People's lives matter no matter if we are having a crisis or not.
Steve (SF)
The chart on your polling scoring contrasted with voting results really highlights how clueless the pundit class is.
garibaldi (Vancouver)
Why am I not surprised that NYT columnists generally thought Biden won the debate? This paper has been doing everything in its power to make sure Sanders does not succeed.
FlameThrowinDem (Phoenix AZ)
All I heard was: > Biden will choose a female as VP, and Bernie was non-committal > Bernie correctly pointd out the need to "Shut Donald Trump up!" > Biden shrewdly exhibited some Progressive flexibility by hugging Liz Warren a little more > Bernie has figured out a way to inject his 45-RPM record about MFA and demonizing the uber-rich into every possible question. Oy-vay! > Biden again showed empathy > Bernie cannot let the sins of the 1980's go...but only when it's his opponent's. > Biden needs to avoid taking the bait of ancient history Votes, plus brush up on his virus name memory, and begin to compliment Bernie to unify ALL Dems. Biden needs to prepare to tell trump, "If I had a dollar for every time you tweeted something hyper-critical every time Obama took a breadth, I could fund my entire campaign! So stop being a crybaby!"
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
Dear GOP, Do you take Responsibility, for Him ??? NOVEMBER.
Salvatore Murdocca (New City, NY)
I knew that Biden's remark about Medicare for All not stopping the virus in Italy would resonate with idiots. The virus spread in Italy because they didn't apply proper protocol to begin with. Also what happens to the uninsured, or inadequately insured, after this crisis is over? What about other illnesses and accidents? American will continue to have the usual medical bankruptcies that NEVER happen in Italy. Biden kept the medical industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the insurance companies happy with that slick, well-prepared, comeback.
PLMD (California)
Sanders confirmed that he is a Marxist and Biden, on Social Security, proved he is a liar. Neither are fit to be President.
jamiebaldwin (Redding, CT)
DVR’d the debate and tried to watch after Homeland (a deal with the Taliban! the President’s a dope who’s easily played by dictators!) then tried to watch debate but fell asleep. OK, America wants Biden, who represents a step back from the edge. I get it. What we need, though, is Warren. Just sayin’...
charles almon (brooklyn NYC)
Guess y'all forget that thing called Sarah Palin? I thought the "woman VP thing" was silly and tacky.
Jeff D (Brooklyn)
Bernie is the only one fighting for support. Biden thinks he's entitled to it. Welp, he won't get my vote until he works for it. Sorry, Jack!
Mike (Texas)
I am surprised to read that Bernie “ was the most cogent candidate on the stage” when he is unable to explain how he would actually pay for and pass his own signature proposals and when, faced with complicated foreign policy questions, he quickly pivoted to quasi-relevant passages from his stump speech. In addition, he kept repeating the same attack lines over and over and refused to accept Biden’s offers of agreement. If that’s cogent, give me incoherence. A number of the NYT commentators here tend, in my humble opinion, to focus too much on style over substance. They tend to focus too little on what it actually takes to be president rather than what sounds exciting on TV. Consider this question: What does it take to be a good president? Look away from the race for a minute and think about who is probably the most trusted man in America right now: Anthony Fauci. If the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases were selected by popular vote or by a poll of pundits, Fauci would lose. He is not an exciting speaker. He is not trying to revolutionize medical science but to advance it. He would not carry the youth vote. BUT, he knows what he is talking about and he knows how to get and communicate incremental but vital results. In other words, he is the Joe Biden of the otherwise overly corrupt and politicized Trump task force. Joe Biden is never going to be the darling of the pundits. But last night proved once and for all that he ought to be president.
Alan (Santa Cruz)
Biden's weak and stumbling rebuttals to Sanders' principled plan reinforces my opinion of his oratorical and debate abilities. I'm not impressed.
Chris (SW PA)
Winners, corporate America Losers, the people. As it ever will be.
Dalgliesh (outside the beltway)
This is interesting. The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty seems to have a different take on who won the debate. I guess it depends on your personal biases and where you stand on the political spectrum.
Frank McNeil (Boca Raton, Florida)
Not bad for pundits, except for almost failing to note that Sanders would also choose a woman, if she were progressive (Warren or Stacey Abrams?). Just cause Biden said it first doesn't mean he won a huge victory with a BFO. You could slice it differently by saying both won, equally while behaving as losers on the same point, attacking each other for each and every mistake they made over the past 40 years. Back to the Future, Please. How did each win? Biden protected his lead, gracefully, by inspiring confidence (lacking in earlier appearances) that he is still able to lead effectively. Bernie clearly made the case that Biden has no program aside from a return to the quiet dogmas of the past, an Obama restoration, as it were. The discussion of health care, always important, now hugely so as a result of the corona virus, was a touch feckless. Biden hit Bernie on costs but made no sense by criticizing his four year timetable. Bernie. while correct that COVID 19 proves the need for universal health care, remained stuck in his I won't compromise posture. Where Bernie clearly has a policy advantage is on climate change. Time and Trump made the danger immediately existential; a return to Obama's once progressive policies is no longer adequate. This is not a tactical matter; my hope is that Barack Obama will persuade Biden that Sanders is correct, not in every detail but in the need for a Manhattan Project style approach.
ds (portland oregon)
@Frank McNeil I agree. I'm a Biden supporter but he needs to be much more aggressive on climate change. I'm voting for him because I think he is a rational thinker and has the best chance of beating trump (doesn't matter if you have a great climate change policy if you don't win) but I also hope that, once in office, the smart people will convince him to be much bolder in his climate change actions.
Frank McNeil (Boca Raton, Florida)
@ds Thanks. I got worried when I saw Biden would only agree to tuition free public college, a no brainer for anyone over 70, people who came of age in an almost tuition free world. Biden has not translated the climate handwriting on the wall. Maybe Barack Obama or John Kerry could persuade him it's a big expletive deal.
James F Traynor (Punta Gorda, FL)
Biden's a tourniquet. We need an emergency surgeon - fast.
John Bergstrom (Boston)
@James F Traynor To follow that metaphor: we're lying on the ground beside the wreck. Right now we need a tourniquet. It would be nice if there was a surgeon available, who had access to a functional operating room and support staff... but right now, a tourniquet, please...
James F Traynor (Punta Gorda, FL)
@John Bergstrom Yes, in that situation, I would agree. Except we're lying next to the emergency room.
Brian (Lakeland, FL)
By far the biggest loser in this debate, America
Snowball (Manor Farm)
The Biden promise to put an African-American woman on the Supreme Court (it won't be Candace Owens or Carole Swain!) means that he will not pick Stacey Abrams or Kamala Harris as his vice-president. More likely Elizabeth Warrren or Gretchen Whitmer (the wise choice.)
Andrew Shin (Toronto)
@Snowball This is a non-sequitur. Why does one exclude the other? Are you invoking a Biden quota?
EnergyGal (Boston, MA)
In my imagination, Joe makes climate change his #1 issue, followed by #1A-- Get money out of politics, Elizabeth becomes Senate Majority Leader and sets the legislative agenda, and the youth that really care about digging deeply into policy and making it happen need first to vote, and second to run for office--emulate AOC and be part of making change within the system. The vast majority of people in this country are too comfortable to even bring their own reusable bag to a store, let alone advocate for revolution. The system is broken, it can be fixed. Let's pull together to make it happen!
JudyR (New Richmond, Wi)
Biden’s worse answer was on climate change. How does a 1.7 trillion dollar plan address the existential threat of our times? Sander’s embrace of the Green New Deal estimated at $16.3 trillion will probably also be insufficient. Here’s what Biden should have said: Our concern for climate change continues to grow as new scientific information emerges. We are studying the various proposals in the Green New Deal with great interest. Many of the proposals are worth pursuing. While we can’t agree with all of them, it is an important starting point. Biden could even have used Sander’s example (putting people to work upgrading old buildings or schools) as something he could embrace. On the other hand, if Biden had said that, he would have just been giving lip service to the problem. We all know that his plan is stuck in the past and that he will do very little to address this problem.
Jon R. (Toledo OH)
@JudyR If you believe Biden that the U.S. is only 15% of the global problem, the real question is what are we doing about addressing the remaining 85%? We can debate the U.S. plan all we want, but a global issue demands a global response. I didn't hear any discussion about that.
Miss Anne Thrope (Utah)
Great, we'll have a choice between a Republicrat or a malevolent cartoon character. Easy choice there. Unfortunately, Biden will be another business-as-usual, attack-the-symptoms-du-jour guy who will do little to address our real problems.
Tim Nelson (Seattle)
I hope that Joe Biden chooses Elizabeth Warren to be his VP pick. I know that there will be a lot of pressure for a woman of color to be his choice, and Stacy Abrams and Kamala Harris would both be worthy choices, but Warren has earned the spot. She has the strength of character and acuity of vision to speak to a progressive agenda for those disappointed by the inability of Sanders to gain the nomination. In office she will prove herself to be worthy to take over the top office in four years after Biden has righted the ship of state that Trump has threatened to capsize. My only misgiving about her in the VP spot is that she would probably be better as Treasury Secretary or Attorney General.
Dave (Seattle)
@Tim Nelson Harris and Warren are the top picks. Abrams, while impressive, has only ever served in the Georgia, House of Representatives and has no experience to suggest she could step into the Oval Office if something were to happen to a 77-year-old president. My preference would be Warren, ad I think she is the most competent and intelligent of all the possible choices. Harris impresses me and I think she would be a great vice-president as well. Abrams might make for a good candidate, but she would not be an effective Vice President, nor President.
Norm (Medellin, Colombia)
@Tim Nelson I agree that Elizabeth Warren deserves the spot, plus her nomination gives her cover to endorse Biden and abandon Bernie without walking away from his policies. Kamala Harris will be a fine Attorney General. And I can see Mike Bloomberg as Secretary of the Treasury if he's willing to take the job. Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer are also worthy of consideration for key leadership roles in a new administration. Amy Klobacher and Cory Booker need to stay in the Senate as the Democrats have a very good chance to take the majority there. I think Americans are now wise to how much damage the traitorous Mitch McConnell has done in putting his personal power ahead of the needs of the American people. He need not worry about being minority leader because he needs to be out of government entirely. Here's my wish. Although I think Biden's ego is too big to quit and his corporate handlers and donors too unwilling to relinquish control of Biden and their collective hold on power, Biden should resign within his first two years in office. He could say his work at stabilizing the ship of state is done and his health is becoming an issue. 80 is just too old to be president. That elevates Elizabeth Warren to be our first female president and run in 2024 as the incumbent. I feel badly for Bernie. He is right on almost every issue and yet will never be rewarded in his lifetime for his courage and intelligence. I hope he throws his entire organization behind Biden.
Labienus (NY State)
If the US constitution sets an age minimum to run for president, there should be an age maximum, 65? So if either of these guys win, they will be be starting their first term as old as Trump would be finishing a second! (av life expectancy in the US is 78!) That is the best the Dems can do, 77/78 years old? Both Biden and Bernie are prime candidates for Corona, and neither of them look great and both have medical histories. Was that some coughing I heard during the debate? Will one or both of these two guys never make it to the convention? What a joke! So the dark fantasy of some, Trump staying in office beyond his term could happen if the virus really takes off (think Contagion), and elections, primaries become impossible?
Robert (Florida)
I voted for Biden, but I’m having some doubts now. In attacking Sanders he implied that a universal health care system was the reason of Italy’s problems with the pandemic. As if the lack of free health care for all would have made things better. How obtuse (or dishonest)! And Gail Collins thought it was a clever retort!
John Bergstrom (Boston)
@Robert No, that wasn't the meaning of that at all. He was pointing out, rightly, that Italy's health care payment system hasn't prevented, or even slowed the epidemic. It's a good point: payment systems are vitally important, but they aren't the only important part of health care. Right now, in the time frame of days and weeks and months, we need to respond to this virus with emergency measures totally outside our existing health insurance systems, and that would probably be outside the rules of any universal healthcare bureaucracy, also.
Robin (Maryland)
I had no patience for Bernie and all his claims about leadership. Although I have enjoyed him for decades, until recently he never led anything, except, maybe, a small liberal city in remotest part of the nation (a city I happen to admire, btw). It's easy to take the ideologically pure position when you're irrelevant, which, sadly, Bernie has almost always been. It's dishonest to use that against someone who has been in the thick of things. Bernie Bros—before you insist on your right to a president, elect a few city council people, state assembly members, and federal legislators. I'd welcome it.
John Bergstrom (Boston)
@Robin The remotest part of the nation? It's right up there over the border! We're not talking about... well, I will say no more...
Robin (Maryland)
@John Bergstrom Not sure I get your point, but out of respect want to reply: I love— LOVE—Vermont. It's just not very representative of the rest of the nation.
The Iconoclast (Oregon)
Jamelle Bouie — The choice for Democrats is clear. Do they build on the legacy of Barack Obama or do they go beyond his presidency to forge a new kind of Democratic Party? Joe Biden did a strong job defending the Obama administration and making the case for a restoration. His problem, as always, is a career that includes four decades of Democratic retreats and Democratic compromises. And he still can’t quite answer for it.
Victor Mark (Birmingham)
Why does the first male Democratic candidate who affirms this year that he will pick a woman to be his Vice President will assure that he should be the nominee? (Sanders was about half a minute later than Biden, and less emphatic.) It is not the gender of the prospective Vice President that matters most, it is the person's overall qualifications. One could just as well change the question to whether a candidate should pick the first black running mate, and thus force a false contest between the 2 leading Democratic candidates. Let us remember the famous quote of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Similarly, we should not judge whether a Vice President candidate should be a woman or a man but rather by the content of the candidate's character. Biden's affirming selecting a woman to be his running mate is a marketing ploy, not an affirmation that the person who should be selected will be best qualified to be one heartbeat away from assuming being the Chief Executive. One must recall that John McCain's disastrous selection of Governor Sarah Palin, and Walter Mondale's selection of Geraldine Ferraro, did not assure winning the election. I am not against favoring a candidate for selecting a woman to be his running mate, but I prefer the person's qualifications above all, whether woman or man.
Justin (Virginia)
@Victor Mark I don't think they were saying that because Biden will choose a Woman VP, he will be the nominee. They were simply saying that was the most notable news. It is most notable because the debate on the issues is just background noise. The primary results so far have already made clear that democratic voters have made up their minds on the nominee. Since Biden was already the presumptive nominee before the debate even started, it is notable that he has committed to choosing a woman as his running mate. Who Bernie would choose is irrelevant regardless of the timing because he had already lost the race before he even stepped behind the podium.
Kally (Kettering)
@Victor Mark Sure sure sure—but what, you don’t think there are any imminently qualified women who could be VP/President?
Madisonian (Madison, WI)
Sanders can't stop describing the problems. That's fine, except he offers few realistic solutions for the immediate future. Biden is more pragmatic, more focused on making things better now. If by some miracle, the House and Senate and federal courts align, then perhaps some of the more structural stuff Sanders identifies might be fixable. But personally, I want incremental improvement now more than I want current misery while waiting for a better day. And as a PS - I watched through the beginning on response to the pandemic, but when they started debating who was nastier on twitter feeds or who had which PACS, it was so irritating, I turned off the debate and went back to reading a novel.
Robert (Out west)
The political divides between these raters have never been clearer, for one thing. Their ratings were close, and in agreement generally—but especially those further Left seem just sour about the realities of the present situation. Fact is, Biden knocked it out of the park. Over and over, he simply insisted on getting actual stuff done, which—sorry—is what’s currently wanted. I get it, okay? Bernie’s not wrong—in general terms, he’s right about the economics—but ALL of his proposals are for deep, radical changes. Pretty sure that right now, we’re getting about all the deep, radical we can stand. And more is on the way.
Frank Casa (Durham)
We may not be ready to have Medicare for all. What about having medicare for those persons that make $50,000 or less a year. Those making above that figure probably have other insurances so the problem of depriving them of what they have doesn't arise. In any event, Sanders is right in pointing out the structural problems, the trouble is that fixing them all at once is not feasible. One thing we can be sure of, as long as the fat man is in charge, nothing will be done.
Kally (Kettering)
@Frank Casa Just add a public option to the ACA, which would essentially be Medicare for all who want it, which is how the ACA was supposed to be in the first place.
Norm (Medellin, Colombia)
@Kally The problem with the ACA is that the insurance companies still profit from it. After all, they wrote the bill, and they still own Biden as they owned Obama and the Congress. Congress will never take any action that cuts into the insane profits of the medical insurance industry. Medicare is not free public health care like they have in Europe. It's 80/20 and that 20% is still enough to bankrupt anyone who has the misfortune to get sick. So, it's not Medicare for all who choose it, but Medicare for all who can afford it. The ACA is just a transfer of our tax dollars to the insurance industry, so they will offer affordable insurance policies to the working poor. The ACA or even allowing younger people to buy into Medicare is not national single payer healthcare system. The ACA could be ruled illegal by the SCOTUS before the end of Trump's term. Then what? National Health care cannot be an opt-in discounted yet subsidized private for-profit insurance program that doesn't cover everyone.
John Bergstrom (Boston)
@Kally There are some ways the for-profit insurance companies would exploit the system to cause problems with a public option, but it would be a good start.
RCJCHC (Corvallis OR)
The same people who put Trump in office, put Biden in office. Nothing new. That's why there is this huge hurry to dismiss all the other states that haven't even had their primaries yet. Progressive states like the one I live in that has primaries later. Biden will not win those states. Sanders was an angel on stage talking truth to power. Biden was power's talking piece.
Dave (Seattle)
@RCJCHC Biden won the primaries in the progressive state to your North. I know I switched my vote to Biden after Elizabeth Warren dropped out.
Paul S Green (Washington D C)
It is clear that Biden will be the nominee; he should stop running for it and start running for president. He will need the enthusiastic, rather than grudging, support of the progressive wing of the Democratic party, and the best way he can ensure that is by choosing Senator Warren as his running mate.
Kally (Kettering)
@Paul S Green You had me for a recommend until your Warren suggestion—she is electoral poison. She couldn’t even win her own state’s primary.
Paul S Green (Washington D C)
@Kally She lost it to Sanders, which is not surprising. The current situation is very different; to the voters who chose Sanders in the Massachusetts primary, she is now the nearest thing to Sanders, and will energize those voters.
John Bergstrom (Boston)
@Paul S Green I don't see Warren as a VP, I see her as a very effective Senator. What about Stacey Abrams? And Biden should gain the support of progressives by adopting more of our policies as his own. But yes, absolutely, the sooner he pivots to his presidential campaign the better.
PB (Northern Utah)
The press framed this debate as a dual between the revolutionary and the pragmatist. We need both. Though Bernie uses the word "revolution" himself, I still think that Bernie's vision is not at all "revolutionary." I grew up in the 1950s, and GOP President Eisenhower worried about big wealth and the military-industrial complex, the state of the middle class, and foresaw the key role the federal government can play in boosting education, infrastructure, transportation.... Civil rights was left for another day. But in this radical conservative right-wing, hate-government era of surging economic inequality from Reagan to Trump, Bernie's ideas truly are "revolutionary." Bernie might have had a better chance if we were not in an era dominated and controlled by right-wing and libertarian-Republicans, big money and corporations, and the egotistical, maniacal Trump, who gave us the worst administration ever that upended the Constitution, foreign relations, and human decency. These are scary times that need stabilizing and Biden, who now looks like he can win a broader swath of voters than Bernie. Pushing democracy forward will be saved for another day; what we need now is simply to get back to democracy, human decency, and valuing truth. When are middle- and working-class Americans going to see the pattern? The GOP gets in office and wrecks the federal government, the economy, and society to make the rich richer. Then the Democrats are elected to clean up the mess.
C (R)
Despite all the hope for normalcy, I worry a Biden nomination is a repeat of 2016 (or 2004). What ever happened to Trump is a symptom and not the cause?
Bryan (Washington)
In looking at the general election, Biden wins. Biden will carry progressive states over Trump. That is a given. More critically is which candidate will carry the more moderate states; particularly emerging purple states like Arizona, North Carolina and possibly Texas. Yes, I said it. Bernie will have a much more difficult time carrying those states as witnessed by what has happened to him in the moderate states which have previously voted. Trump's political instincts informed him Biden was the candidate to be feared and he acted upon that and was impeached for those actions. Bernie will always push the party to the left. The question that will be answered in the final stages of the nomination process is just how far he can push the party until it says, "enough". That is how the nomination process should work. Joe Biden is going to be a true force against Trump. He is also going to give a huge boost the candidates like Mark Kelly in Arizona and Susan Gideon in Maine. These candidates need a more moderating candidate rather than a more revolutionary candidate to succeed in their elections. For Democrats, the flipping of the Senate in November remains their number two goal for the 2020 elections.
Ryan Bingham (Up there...)
@Bryan Biden will have to debate Trump-- he'll lose badly. He's washed up. Too bad Mayor Pete isn't a candidate.
John Bergstrom (Boston)
@Bryan Flipping the Senate might even be a number one goal, if we had to rank them. We could block any further ultra-right judicial appointments, we could impeach Barr, and maybe even Trump again, why not? I'd be for it! But both would be best.
alan haigh (carmel, ny)
I share the common consensus, Biden is the likely nominee, and while I was never burning for Bernie, true progressives may have lost the first real opportunity in decades to elect a genuine progressive with a mandate for more than incremental change. However, it is a difficult matter to asses relative risks. On the one hand we may be on the precipice of an environmental Armageddon whose threat cannot be countered without transforming the global economic model of ever-expanding markets and the rising flood of human population which is increasing at a rate of 200k per day. On the other hand, if the public thinks such claims are nothing more than Chicken Little exaggerations, incremental may be all we can do, and just hope that mother nature provides us with enough warning to turn this around before it's too late. Go Joe! But please look up, those are pieces of sky coming down.
Liba (Madison, WI)
The debate confirmed that Bernie is ready to tackle the serious crises we face - rising inequality, unaffordable healthcare and climate change. He is a stronger leader than Biden, more inspiring, more principled and completely honest. Biden has a checkered voting history, no message to inspire and is too old to lead. The NYT will support Biden no matter how he performs. Will progressives and independents do the same? Can Biden stand up to Trump? I am not sure. My hope was to be motivated by an inspiring candidate as opposed to fear. How come we lost all of them and ended up with Biden!
jason (college station)
@Liba without seeming disrespectful (there has been too much disrespect from supporters of both of these candidates in this contest), the opposing view is that Bernie has nice promises but has not provided a convincing plan to enact them. i like some of his ideas, but not all. i like some of Biden's ideas, but not all. but Biden has gotten things done in the past, through compromise, and it appears to many of his supporters that Bernie has not - why will that change when he is president? also, i hear Bernie supporters repeatedly saying that Biden has no plan - he does, it's just not radical. you can see it here: https://joebiden.com/joes-vision/. Bernie's is here: https://berniesanders.com/issues//. both men have plans, some Dems just like Bernie's less, or don't believe he can make it happen based on past performance. finally - how is Biden too old to lead but Sanders not? Sanders is older!
Liba (Madison, WI)
@jason As many progressive democrats, I am convinced that under Biden the changes this country needs will not take place. Bernie would do everything he could to fight inequality, climate change and for universal healthcare. He has the commitment, the passion and the experience and a large! share of the electorate stands with him. Yes, he is older than Biden but his mind is much sharper. I am afraid that Biden's frailty will become even more apparent once he faces Trump.
Bob (Taos, NM)
By going along with, even championing, the policies that created the mess that we find ourselves in Joe Biden managed to be there to create cosmetic fixes. He was the leader in some of the worst cases including our ridiculously predatory credit card policies. Is that a record to be proud of? "Yes, I was in power during some of the most inadequate responses to the problems I helped create!" Very reassuring Joe.
Lizi (Ottawa)
Compromise is not always the best option, especially when democracy and its vital institutions are not trusted and the private sector has been freed of a moderating government and the health system is number 37 in quality of health services in the world according to WHO. There is an old joke about Newfoundland joining Canada. Lots of debate over changing from driving on left side of the road to the right! So they took slowly....busses and trucks first! Sometimes the whole system needs a reset and Warren was capable of making that happen.
GH (New York)
No matter who wins the next elections, we need leaders who have the strength to rebuild this country world. Instead of bickering about the past. Who think about the future, because they half have of their lives ahead of them.
uras (az)
@GH Unfortunately what one has done in the past could be an indication of what they might do in the future unless there has been a dramatic personality change.
mmmlk (italy)
I don't see any reason why Biden needs to debate against Trump's insults and bad manners. He and all the democratic contenders will be able to campaign supporting a Democratic party platform that they will write, I imagine, together. We must get rid of Trump. And the Democrats must absolutely bolster the majority in the House and take over the Senate.
Kathy White (Las Vegas)
@mmmlk Absolutely! Biden should demand trump release his tax returns before a debate. Biden does not need to debate. We know he is the smart and honest one.
mmmlk (italy)
@Kathy White I don't agree that Biden Is the smart and honest one. He Will have to do in the present situation.
Independent1776 (New Jersey)
I watched the debate, and shook my head that out of a country of over 300,000,000 people that are mostly literal, this is all we could come up with, sad, sad, sad.
Mike (Rural New York)
@Independent1776 Perhaps if they were ‘literate’ things would be better. Cast the first stone.....
T.Remington (Harlem)
While it may appear that Sanders has "lured Biden left on everything from immigration to college debt, a surprising win for the revolution" [Nicole Hemmer] — the problem is that Biden is the guy who early in his campaign promised rich donors that "nothing will fundamentally change". The truth of the matter is that he is the candidate most supported by the structural "larger dynamics that have produced the present crisis" [Jamelle Bouie]. Biden is an old school politician in the worst sense—one who will say what he thinks the people want to hear, pleasantly smiling, knowing he doesn't have to stick to any of the promises because his supporters won't hold him accountable. (Sound like someone currently in office?) His handlers currently have him giving lip devotion to the same things that Bernie Sanders (the source of most forward-thinking ideas in the Democratic Party) has been saying for years—but in that vague watered-down way which the moderate/centrists like, with no passion or commitment. A matchup of Trump and Biden will be a contest of which one call call out the other on more lies. The Debate of The Deceivers. The 1% neoliberal agenda can stay on its tracks —the rich getting richer, the working class getting crumbs. Meanwhile, the corporate media is in overdrive manufacturing consent by not looking too closely at what is inside that Biden suit.
Robert (Out west)
@T.Remington Theodore Sturgeon, “Brownshoes.” Go thou and read.
Richard (Newman)
Wow, it appears I watched a completely different debate than the commentators here. Yes, Biden didn't stumble and fall on his face like he has in the past, yet he look completely overpowered by Sanders' intelligence and quick articulation of why systemic change is necessary. Biden had no answer for the fact that he lied about his efforts to cut social security, his vote on the Iraq war, his participation in the 94 crime bill. More significantly, Sanders' argument about the need for universal health care sans insurance companies and Big Pharma is even more significant in light of the current crisis. As he points out, and recent history has shown, we don't have a unified single system like most other countries, which would have better enable us to be prepared for this crisis and others to follow. Sanders demolished Biden, and nobody seems to have noticed, including the NYT. Maybe they have other interests in mind, besides choosing the best candidate?
Stephanie (GA)
@Richard btw, sanders supported the crime bill too...just saying
Sparky (NYC)
The market is down roughly 30% from its peak (as I write this). There is no question we are about to see massive layoffs. Yet Bernie has nothing to say about how this will affect his massive spending spree. If he had no idea where the tens of trillions were going to come a month ago, how about now? A more nimble politician would be able to address this. Bernie is pull-a-string and get a canned answer that hasn't changed in decades. He is not the man for this moment.
Valerie (Portland, OR)
@Sparky We're in the middle of a crisis and suddenly, leadership says, a "massive spending spree" is okay. Bernie's point was that our ongoing healthcare and environmental crises deserve the same funding commitment. The government is always able to pull out funds from somewhere; it is merely a matter of priority.
Judy (Cambridge, MA)
Think Biden made the case for a transitional Presidential term (right the ship). Most people want someone younger in 2024.
23 KYD (Cape Coral)
Joe Bidens Reference to Italy’s state sponsored Healthcare isn’t taking into account It’s GDP or where it’s system is ranked worldwide. It also doesn’t take into consideration the citizens lack of economic anxiety over healthcare bankrupting them. C’mon man, do you really think we can put this country on lockdown with the financial concerns of our citizens like Italy has? C’mon man why didn’t you use South Korea as your example for state sponsored healthcare. I told my wife, “Don’t worry Wall Street always gets their man” and they will. One way or the other. No one ever really talks about the Gross domestic loss of wealth caused by healthcare. Nope, there’s no money in that but the losses are shared. And we constantly are having the dumbest part of any conversation, especially in debates. Although it was refreshing to not have the audience inserting themselves. Kinda gave it a little legitimacy. Now get rid of the game show lights and put the league of women voters and PBS in charge and we might get somewhere.
Carolyn (Seattle)
Bernie has no path to the nomination. I hope, given the coronavirus crisis, he drops out ASAP so Democratic do not have to risk their health going to the poles and the Party can pivot to focus on Trump's incompetence.
K Shields (San Mateo)
Biden has my vote. Bernie has my heart. That remark about Italy and their healthcare system was a low blow. I wonder how the other countries with universal healthcare are doing? More importantly, how is this country doing with the patchwork healthcare system?
CW (Left Coast)
Have we had enough Democratic debates yet? Is there any topic that hasn't been hashed and rehashed ad naseum? Please. Let's move on, choose our candidate and focus on sweeping the corrupt Republican Party out of government. November can't come fast enough.
Smith Sanders (Englewood)
@CW As much as I share your fatigue with this process, I did feel a need to see Biden in a one-on-one debate with a legitimate opponent. Some are criticizing Bernie for obsessing over Biden's past but he did us a service by giving us a taste of what the former VP is going to face in the fall. Did Biden ease all my concerns?--far from it. But at least I saw that he's not as impaired as he often seemed in the multi-candidate debates.
X (Austin)
Joe Biden looked and acted like a president. Bernie didn't. We need a president right now.
Jeff (Upstate)
Promising to pick a female VP was a terrible unforced error on Biden's part. He is going to win the Democratic nomination either way, so there is little political benefit in pandering to left-wing identity politics. Meanwhile, he has now set up whoever he chooses to be perceived as an affirmative action candidate rather than someone who earned the position on her merits.
Hugh McIsaac (Santa Cruz, CA)
If ever our nation required a steady hand at the helm, it is now. Clearly, Biden is the best choice. Spending four years watching Bernie’s rude dismissive grimaces and scowls would be too much!!!
S Venkatesh (Chennai, India)
The debate stamped the stark difference between Senator Sanders & VP Biden. In a time of national calamity, Senator Sanders remains the perpetual Whiner & Blamer of repeat targets while VP Biden seeks to Engage & Act swiftly & boldly. The long line of distinguished US Presidents, from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Barack Obama does not include any Whiner & Blamer. Senator Sanders clearly is unfit to be President.
K. (Ann Arbor MI)
Please stop using numerical scores for debates. This is not an Olympic gymnastic routine. It is supposed to a chance for the nation to see and hear the candidates talk so we can make an informed choice. What they say and how they handle themselves is important, but that is not captured in a "7/10."
plamb (sandpoint id)
i don't think Biden can beat Trump....Bernie is the sharper candidate he is offering real change and relief for working people ... Biden is too lukewarm and he carries the disappointment the Obama administration was to working people ... I am afraid this is a repeat of Hillary vs. Trump....
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@plamb .... "he is offering real change and relief for working people"....Which is why he can't 40% of the vote in a Democratic primary? How does that work in a national election where Independents and Republicans can also vote?
stewarjt (all up in there some where)
"But his [Sanders'] arguments are sounding tired because he so rarely expands on them in fresh ways, or even in specific ways." -M. Swartz I'm no longer surprised or amazed by the superficiality of the debate analysis of NYTimes columnists. Ms. Swartz doesn't address whether universal healthcare is necessary or will save lives - especially during this crisis! It's whether the arguments are tired. Good Lord! Please help us!
Roland Berger (Magog, Québec, Canada)
Democratic establishment to Sanders: You may say anything you want, we can do anything we want.
Stephanie (GA)
@Roland Berger he should run as an independent...done. If a person hates the democratic establishment so much, why be a part of it? He knows who butters his bread...that's why
bahcom (Atherton, Ca)
Sanders answered almost every question with his favorite stump speech. He was hunched over, waving his arm pointing his finger, trying to cut in to deliver his message of Socialism. Take this med and it will solve all our problems. The revolution is the only way. Sanders looked older than his age and worn out. At times he looked apoplectic. He was lost in the here and now without his screaming minions. Bieden was the opposite, standing erect, looking younger than his age and said, without histrionics, plans to handle our severe crises. Did what every President should do, acted forceful, knowledgeable, truthful and soothing and not stuck in an ideologic quagmire. A calm hand in a raging storm. What a contrast between him and Sanders and Trump. Both of them came out the losers.
Eric (California)
I was just considering this morning the outrageous irony of asking young people for whom this virus is not a danger to stop their social activities in order to protect older people. Those same older people who deny climate change, the burden of college debt, oppose affordable, accessible health care at the expense of those same young people because none of it is, or will in the case of climate change affect them. By the way, I am closing in on 70, I will hold my nose and vote for Biden if I must, but if he starts in with the bipartisan garbage, particularly if we win the Senate, we're lost. Those days are gone and given the evidence of the Obama years he should know this. He is right about one thing, this campaign should be nothing more than a referendum on trump, policy can come later. Every campaign dollar should be spent in the swing states that matter and they should be hammered with ads exploiting trump and his family of enablers with the evidence of his corruption and ineptitude.
G James (NW Connecticut)
Barring catastrophy, this race is over. Biden is the nominee. If there was any doubt, COVID-19 sealed the deal. Democratic primary voters, like the country as a whole, crave a return to normalcy, not a revolution. Uncle Joe is comforting, projects competence, and if given the choice, almost everyone would choose to live in 2013 than 2020. When this debate is unearthed it will be memorable for one thing: Biden's promise to select a woman as his running mate. Bernie's attempted use of Biden's record on him stuck about as well as eggs on a Teflon pan. Biden will not select Elizabeth Warren, as he made clear by implication last night. I suspect it will be (in this order) MI Governor Gretchen Whitmer (age 48), NM Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (age 60), IL US Senator (former Army Lt. Col) Tammy Duckworth (Age 52), perhaps less likely NV US Senator Catherine Cortez Mateo (age 55)(because NV is so recently blue) and former GA State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (age 46)(because she has never held state-wide office, albeit likely but for voter suppression). Time will tell. Were the election held today, Biden would probably take 331 Electoral Votes; and if the country is still virus-rocked on Nov. 3, perhaps 348, or 387. Turns out Biden, the liberal, is the 'small-c' conservative choice.
Harvey (NC)
This :'Mimi Swartz (4/10) — The virus gave Sanders an opportunity to keep attacking the inequities in American life, and he took it and ran. But his arguments are sounding tired because he so rarely expands on them in fresh ways, or even in specific ways. It’s not a good time to be an ideologue." As a 72 yr. old progressive X 40 years I have realized since the Vietnam War it is never "a good time to be an ideologue". Bernie never stops playing gotcha. Biden should do a better job at admitting his major mistakes 20/30 years ago and also say he has moved on from those positions. Now is what is important. Bernie was/is the same old same old (and I mean old) "we must do this we must we must. Aghhhh I am sooo tired of his we musts. He is not gracious and wants to pick open well healed wounds, acts as if his self acclaimed purity on all things Bernie makes him perfect. Amy's answer to Mayor Pete would be just as applicable to Sander's: "I wish everybody was as perfect as you" Bernie.
Bob (Ohio)
If the goal is dumping Trump, and it should be for any sane person in this country, then Biden has to be the unanimous choice to be the candidate to take him down. The majority of this country is simply not ready for Bernie's ideas. Even in the midst of this health and financial crisis, it would be a mistake to think the election in the fall is not going to be a bitter and close contest. By then, the shocking impact of the virus and stock market fall will have recovered and Trump will take full credit with the help of his billion dollar war chest. Get out the vote, every single one.
Foster Furcolo (Massachusetts)
The loser was moderator Ilia Calderon. Questions that should have been asked about immigration: How many immigrants per year is environmentally sustainable? How many people can the US support in an environmentally sustainable manner? But she was obviously supporting her on open borders agenda.
AutumnLeaf (Manhattan)
Oh am sorry. I forgot these two were still going on. Sorry but at this point we're not interested, thanks.
Steve (Maryland)
The Pandemic is the featured topic and with good reason. Both men showed up well but all things considered, I am most happy that the field has cleared and the Democrats can get down to business. Trump's ineptitude and mis-statement-filled talks with the country give the candidates plenty of fodder. Now they must get the country to hear them.
James Siegel (Maine)
There was a debate last night?! Just kidding. But here in Portland, Maine, as an educational consultant and a counselor, we were trying to figure out how to best help our schools and students cope with this major disruption. I think Biden's dig about Italy's single-payer system failing might have scored a point with voters, but it isn't their health care plan but initial incompetence that has increased their infections and fatalities. However, any one of the dozen DNC candidates could have handled this better for one reason: sanity; they're not malignant narcissists. Vote Blue No Matter Who!!!
Fran (Midwest)
Based on yesterday's debate, if we elect Biden we get a "number one - number two" president. Is that what the country needs?
RR (California)
Not all of us "subscribe" to CNN, for practical reasons. What parts of the debate I was able to stream, I must remark, where the commentators of the Times did not. Bernie Sanders made one clear point. Our hospital systems i(US) have no connectivity, operate independently and therefore put at us at risk during a pandemic. Biden had many plans but I was lost in his details. Where is the plan to have cross communication between private hospitals and public?
Observer (Washington, D.C.)
I'd never vote for Joe Biden. DOMA, Anita Hill, Iraq War, Patriot Act, Bankruptcy Bills, NAFTA, Ukrainian corruption, the list goes on. And that's before we get to his bought and paid for status by Big Medical and Big Pharma and Big Banks, etc., and his mental decline. Thanks, but no thanks. It's Bernie or the Green Party nominee in November. Conservative Democrats have essentially voted to elect Trump for a second term, by pushing for yet another unelectable and patently corrupt Wall Street stooge.
taffy (Portland, OR)
@Observer Yes, Trump WILL win reelection if people insist on voting for a 3rd party instead of Biden. I'm a Bernie supporter, too, and am disgusted and disappointed by the mainstream media's intense, unremitting criticism of him and his policies. Bernie is a true leader who has consistently supported what he considers best for all Americans. Fortunately, he and Warren have pushed the Democrats closer to the left during the campaign. Trump will make mincemeat out of Biden in any debates, I fear. BUT I intend to VOTE DEMOCRATIC in November, and you should, too.
William Barnett (Eugene, Or)
@Observer Hope you and Ralph and Jill have a nice time reassuring each other that Gore = Bush, Trump = Clinton and now Biden = Trump. Well here's some more math, your way or the highway = 4 more years of DJT and all that will bring. Cheers.
Christina (Nashua, nh)
@Observer It is Biden or Trump at this point and a third party vote is a vote for Trump just like 2016. That is how we got Trump in the first place. VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO
Professor Ben Smith (New York)
Sanders easily won that debate last night. The NY Times and moderate democrats wont even tell the truth. Moderates have determined Biden is their candidate and refuse to admit he is wrong and has a terrible track record on most things. Biden is not a leader. There are not enough honest and good people to vote for Sanders. Sad country.
RBW (traveling the world)
One thing that's clear as day is that none of the Times columnists are swing voters and only one or two might be capable of even imagining the mind of a swing voter. Both candidates last night shaded the truth, failed to answer questions directly and sincerely, and beat some dead horses. What a surprise! But one candidate was relatively calm, demonstrated both experience and knowledge about how to deal with a crisis, and professed a determination to mend what ails us, literally and figuratively. The other candidate waved his arms constantly while trying to fit every topic, including the current crisis, into his same old talking points and had to explain away his life-long affection for communist regimes. Oddly, he was unprepared to say that he'd name a woman as his VP pick, even though the most obvious and beloved choice for him would be Ms. Warren. Which candidate do you think swing voters would more easily vote for?
Jonathan (Boston)
@RBW Yeah, no swing voters here and no empathy for them either. That said, if you read the NYT you don't read it for anything but the Left's perspective and falling into line for daily groupthink. Nah, no Elizabeth Warren for Bernie. She wouldn't take the job, and, I believe, doesn't even like Bernie that much. She may like Biden less, but she's a self-aggrandizing pragmatist after it's all said and done. She might take it then, but I don't think she checks enough boxes. Kamala Harris, OMG. Stacy Abrams, OMG X's 2.
Grey (Charleston SC)
Biden should go further than vice-president and announce many of his choices for his cabinet after it’s clear he’ll be nominated, per Thomas Friedman’s op-Ed. If he selects a Team of Rivals, and convince Elizabeth Warren, and maybe even Sanders, along with Mayor Pete, Corey Booker, and the women he doesn’t choose for vp, it would go a long way to assure all stripes of Democrats and some independents, and the nation as a whole..except for The Trump Kool-Aid Klan who even think he’s handled the Coronavirus crisis well.....that there will be stability and solid leadership to lead us out of the Trump mess and the Virus emergency. Step aside, Bernie. Do it, Mr. Biden, once your nomination is assured. Have your entire cabinet campaigning. Let’s go for a landslide.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Grey ...The Senate is critical. He can't appoint Warren to anything because the Massachusetts Governor is a Republican.
Eris (Connecticut)
I can see it now . . . Biden vs. Trump in a debate that descends to long, rambling monologues from both and ends with an argument over who's spent more time in the situation room.
spc (California)
@Eris There won't be a debate. Trump's handlers can't take the chance that Trump won't implode on the stage and conclusively demonstrate his unfitness for office.
Naples (Avalon CA)
Yes. Subdued, and a draw. I think it was Reagan who first began showcasing individual citizens' sad and happy stories. Television indeed has eventually swallowed our political systems in ways far beyond the Nixon/Kennedy debate. To our detriment, Hollywood and DC, those single-industry towns, have merged. And Republicans mock Hollywood while they elect Reagan, Schwartznegger, Trump. Showmen. Biden's story of the woman outside the nursing home window waving to her mother has pathos indeed. Except that Bernie is the candidate who has a path forward from her trauma. I've had enough of pols using people for props and mourning their wives and sons. We need to restructure. In energy. In income equality. In health. In banking. In infrastructure. This is so clear. We are in spectacular decline. We're broke. Yet Biden tells stories, and commenters like Wehner still call common sense "radicalizing." Bernie. Is a great man. A male Cassandra in this wilderness. His legacy will resonate.
Sidewalk Sam (New York, NY)
I understand that in all likelihood Biden will be the Democratic nominee in November, but I will still vote for Sanders in the primary. It has been an extraordinary experience being a voter during Sanders's run, having a candidate who actually tells the truth about what needs to be done to make this country a fairer and healthier place. I wasn't born yet during FDR's New Deal, and was too young to vote in 1964, when LBJ was kicking off an era of wonderful civil rights and other social legislation (before he got bogged down in Viet Nam). Sanders actually represents me, the things I care about. For the life of me, I can't understand why his campaign has not vigorously highlighted his Civil Rights activism, there's an actual photo of him getting arrested at a protest in 1963. That's what I'm looking for in a leader, someone who would put his safety on the line for justice and decency. There are a lot of voters out there who wouldn't have gone for a Jewish guy who grew up poor--and that vulgar Brooklyn accent, that's the last straw in our very class-bound country. A lost opportunity for an overdue reset of America, nonetheless.
Michael McAllister (NYC)
Biden promised everything but a new car and dish washer for every voter. Given his awful record as lap dog to big corporations and big donors in politics, he is a sorry counterfeit when he mouths Progressive intentions. And, in the real world, there is no path to deliver on his cloned Bernie Convictions. His head is gassed up with recent success in the polls and his delusion that McConnell will be a willing dance partner in any legislation or judicial appointments. Oh, yeah. Note to the country: He will be a train wreck when debating Trump.
Mike (Rural New York)
@Michael McAllister He didn’t promise the car and dishwasher because there is no way to pay for it. Sound familiar?
Sarah (Alaska)
@Mike You mean he's never fleshed out a plan to pay for it because Biden made his promises up on the spot in order to compete with Bernie.
Paul (Brooklyn)
Whether anybody watched it or not, nobody cares. For better or worse, the democrat voters look like they chose Joe. It is democracies last best hope to get rid of the biggest threat to our democracy since the Civil War, Trump. Whether you are republican, democrat, liberal or conservative support him.
Stu Sutin (Bloomfield, CT)
Bernie is warming Joe up for the Trump debates and he did a great job.
JD (Portland, Me)
There is absolutely no real debate about who won the debate last night, and who lost. Joe Biden won, and Donald Trump lost without stepping foot on stage. Bernie was Bernie, god bless him, and I hope his followers follow their leader and support Biden for POTUS, because it would help the healing process our country needs, as well as help defeat the worst president in the history of our country. Vote Trump out, vote Biden in!
Sari (NY)
Vice-Pres. Biden has compassion and empathy, as does Pres. Obama. Two important traits and these two important traits are sadly lacking in that person currently in the Oval Office. These days when many people are afraid of Covid-19 and are looking for clear explanations and direction, what do we have? All we have is a person more interested in his ratings, which by now are in his famous swamp. What we do have are intelligent and knowledgeable doctors snd scientists who we shall listen to and forget that guy who won't take responsibility for his shortcomings.
Lynda (Gulfport, FL)
I fail to understand why voters think Trump will agree to "debate" Joe Biden. Or why VP Biden will agree to "debate" Trump. The faux debate style used in the primary for the Democratic candidates does not show either candidate at his best. Trump is used to having questions shouted at him on the driveway of the White House as he leaves for another turn at his stand-up comedy routine at a rally. Biden is torn between answering the moderator's question and using it to make the canned response his advisors want. If Biden and Trump are to meet on one stage, there needs to be a better format. If the events are part of the presidential "job interview" then somehow the format needs to reveal the decision-making style of the two candidates.
Moly (San Francisco)
I love Bernie Sanders. I'd love to see him as president and engaged with other world leaders in partnership for how to deal with climate change and current issues -- coronavirus, wildfires, and whatever else is coming our way. I see him as a compassionate visionary who keeps his eyes on the big picture that is partially responsible for our current crisis. I get that many people don't see him the way I do, and accept that. Biden is ok, but his constant referencing the past is like the proverbial chalk on the blackboard for me. If the past had been so good, we would be much better equipped for where we are now.
Joe (New York)
We need a nominee that wins the general election. That means winning all of America, including flippable Republicans and not just democrats. Sanders’ obligation last night was to challenge Biden into adopting, or accepting either parts of or whole portions of his policies—not to fantasize about the (zero) chance of becoming the nominee. Sanders’ second obligation was to firmly state that he will support the nominee without hesitation words like, “let’s see,” or “allow the democratic process.” The battle is, as Biden suggests, to oust Trump. Bernie, take the lead, do what is necessary to defeat Trump and steer your passionate supporters towards a victory against Trump, not against Biden. If you don’t, or hesitate, or grumble about the “political establishment,” (I hope I have that quoted correctly) then you’re keeping Trump in. I would’ve gladly and wholeheartedly have voted for you if you were the nominee. With the that thought, Please ask your supporters to do likewise and avoid a repeat of the last general election when Bernie or bust actually meant hooray Trump.
V (this endangered planet)
Frankly, I am tired of Sanders accusing his competitors of not being "pure enough" based on previously held postions in Congress. I want to know my President and my political representatives are willing to change with the times. Sanders seems stuck in 1960's timewarp but I also welcome his and many others efforts to make our society more fair. In that he has done a service to our country. However, what he really needs to do right now is bring his loyal followers to defeating tRump.
LizRS66 (The Midwest)
@V You are correct. I also believe this. But, I would like to add that changing one's mind over the years is often a (hopefully) a sign of personal growth.
Claire Green (Washington DC)
Compromise is how the country was meant to work, and shouldn’t be considered a negative automatically. A conservative is someone who conserves something, and considering the radical and reactionary deeds of the last four years, absolutely nothing is being conserved by Trump and trumpites, most especially the hard won fruits of compromise in a democratic republic. The only conservatives left are those that will strive to stop the utter ruination of the USA and the planet it sits on, and those are not the Republicans in power now. History will not be easily rewritten in this age of technology, and history will judge harshly.
LizRS66 (The Midwest)
@Claire Green Exremely well said!
Heysus (Mt. Vernon)
After 2/3 of the way through I had heard enough. Bernie is same old same old. Joe save the world while VP. I was not aware of that. Both are rather tiresome with their old chestnuts. That's what happens when we pick two old fogies to run for president. We lost our big chance with any of the younger ones. Vote blue through and through.
Mike (Rural New York)
For everyone who is worried that Biden is not progressive enough, or won’t listen to good counsel, please remember he is the person who pushed Obama into marriage equality.
Doug Horn (Houston)
I cannot believe these commentators ranked Sanders above a 5. Watching last night made my blood boil. We are in the midst of an international crises and Bernie is talking about Medicare for all, rather than how he would reduce the threat. For those of you who thought Biden fudged about certain past issues then you must live in Bernie's bubble. Government is compromise. You can't always get everything you want, probably one of the reasons Sanders has be ineffective in getting legislation passed. Circumstances of the time dictate actions, ideals strain to meet the need. That is democracy. Biden understands that. The country has a debt that is almost insurmountable and an immediate shift in Medicare, Free tuition, etc. will push the debt higher. Attacks on the establishment that are not graded will create a depression. Read how FDR solved the problem, even he had a challenge erasing the debt, the only thing that changed it was WWII. So work with what we have and tell Sanders to get behind Biden or we will have four more years of chaos.
IndyPen (Hudson Valley)
@Doug Horn I completely agree. We have put up with an aggressive tone from the top for 3 plus years. It's been the response to everything from T. Listening to Bernie's attitude and tone constantly reminded me of that tone. And the finger-pointing got old early. A previous commenter said it right, we like Bernie's ideas, but we want Biden to deliver on them.
Mark (Cheboygan)
Here is the deal; I hate having to vote against my interests. I despise having to accept once again that progressives ideas take a back seat to corporate interests. I am four square behind Bernie. I thought it was a very good debate. In the end it is probably Biden and he is going to need help getting across the finish line in November. Having Trump in the WH is not acceptable. When Biden gets into the WH, I expect and hope progressives to protest him as hard as they do Trump. This is the price of the presidency.
Claire Green (Washington DC)
@Mark You are chafing at the bit, but you must not identify Biden as Corporate Interest. That title goes to the people you will inadvertently reelect if you continue to overlook the virtues that Biden brings to the White House. I trust he will surround himself with the best and the brightest, he understands that concept, and at the very least you must admit Bernie would only accept yes men.
Ben (Mission Viejo, CA)
While someone's past voting record can be a window to how they will govern in the future, going back decades and without considering the political/social winds of that time is less relevant. Biden cannot explain away his entire voting record, but Bernie spends too much time treating treating it as gotchas.
Judy (Cambridge, MA)
@Ben - agree, holding a 1990s vote to 2020 standards when we don't even hold the sitting President to any standards is shooting ourselves in the foot.
EPMD (Dartmouth)
Biden was reassuring and Sanders should have quit last night and endorsed him but his ego is too big. Tomorrow's likely crushing defeat should be enough for Bernie to concede. His supporters need to help defeat this "existential threat" and return Washington to some level of normality--as lame as that may be. I would not have believed this 2wks ago, but now it is possible with Biden to not only beat Trump , but also take the Senate. Biden swept every county in Missouri, Michigan, and Mississippi and with Sander's votes state wide victories are possible. How sweet it would be to stun Trump and the right wingers who were celebrating his reelection and his invincibility after he escaped impeachment. Wash your hands and vote Trump and his band of crooks out of power before it is too late!
Robert Roth (NYC)
Medicare for all who have Coronavirus . Private insurance for those who have cancer, heart disease, diabetes and everything else. There is a massive emergency. But I don't understand the complacency and desire of many these commentators for medicare for all to fail. If Bernie Sanders is right that we have 8 or 9 more years to put the breaks on global warming and start turning things around than global warming very likely was the winner of yesterday debate.
Victor Huff (Utah)
Funny how once the pendulum swung over to Biden he is now being given kudos instead of being dissed across the board as he was previously. Talk about jumping on the bandwagon. Perhaps he has resurfaced as the "best" candidate but this sure has shown what all the critics and analysts are made of. Politics, what a joke.
Maria (Washington, DC)
Really? 7.6 for Joe Biden? What debate were you all watching? I thought this was a completely one-sided debate. Bernie stood his ground relatively well and kept reiterating his agenda coherently and cohesively. His brain is functioning. I found his closing statement compelling and well formed. I found Joe Biden completely incomprehensible. He could not present one coherent thought about any of his plans. He was just spewing out random sentences hoping that one of them would land. It was very difficult for me to watch and made me extremely uncomfortable. Obviously, he will be the democratic nominee. I am terrified for our country as we head into the general election having to pick between two dementia patients. Is this what the fall of democracy looks like in real time?
ExPatMX (Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico)
@Maria One is honest and will select very competent advisers and then listen to them. The other is dishonest, surrounded himself with incompetent liars and does not listen to people who are experts in their fields. Big choice!
Maria (Washington, DC)
@ExPatMX What does it say in an election when for the 'good' candidate we have we need to use the argument of 'his competent advisers will prop him up'? Hillary lost in 2016 because many voters in swing states were not motivated by the argument 'if you don't want Trump...'. Biden's campaign is heading for a repeat of this strategy hoping for different results; I don't think it will work. I also think Biden echoes too much of Trump's tendencies, calling people 'dog faced pony soldiers' or threatening to get in a fight with them if they even so much as speak up to challenge his positions or his record. He claims he is bringing us back to civil discourse ... but only if you all sit down and shut up and agree with him. It's really not a good look, and in my opinion, not a good option. So it's not a big choice, it's a losing choice either way.
That's What She Said (The West)
Felt it was a wasted an opportunity to deliver a detailed plan for this crisis Now. People are suffering what can be done to relieve the financially strained, the unemployed, the homelessness Now. Bernie struck a chord this is systemic and political choice can change this but People need to hear what is going to be done today. A well thought out detailed plan on how to deal with this crisis presented by either Candidate would've made the presidential clear.
Bri (Columbus Ohio)
When I heard both men talking, I envisioned them in a debate with Trump. Joe Biden doesn't stand a chance in a debate with Trump. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, would eat Trump alive. The passion, the experience, the anger he has right now, would all explode right there on stage, and Trump would finally become the target he should have been four years ago. Personally, I would love to see it!
Joan Staples (Chicago)
@Bri Bernie would be a better debater, but his ideology is what will be focused upon if he is nominated. And even some "progressives" would desert Bernie at that point. The Democrats have opportunities and time to plan a comprehensive campaign. Trump's failures of leadership now as well as his basic cruelty (see George Packer's article in the Atlantic) suggest that the Dems can win if they concentrate on their strengths and people come out to votes.
ExPatMX (Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico)
@Bri Being a good debater and winning an election are not necessarily synonymous. Biden can pull the moderates who voted for but now regret Trump. Sanders cannot do that. Biden has a broader base than Sanders which will help him actually (hopefully) win the election.
alex (belgium)
@Bri I hear you, but then you would just have two angry men fighting it out. I think that Biden v Trump would be a perfect contrast of rationality and decency vs empty rhetoric. Every time i see trump i'm reminded of that classic simpsons episode when homer gets to run the garbage men department, and then the old and tried guy comes back to fix it. To me that guy is Biden.
R Rao (Dallas)
I think Mr. Biden will be for the charismatic Mr. Obama what Mr.Johnson was to JFK, on extending the New Deal and civil rights. There are other likely similarities, long long tenure in the Senate. We should hope that Mr. Biden escapes the corruption that the Viet Nam war left in our politics.
Martin (New York)
It seems almost absurd to point out that both of these men are flawed candidates, when the very unfunny joke in the White House makes either of them look like Abraham Lincoln. Biden illustrates the limits that our corrupt system places on honesty & integrity. Sanders’ presence on the national stage has little to do with his leadership skills and everything to do with the fact that we desperately need critics of a system that is remarkably efficient at excluding and silencing its critics. Generally, Sanders’ attacks on Biden did have more substance than Biden’s attacks on Sanders. Biden has consistently been willing to give away the bank for the sake of a compromise with Republicans who are ready to destroy the country for the sake of a political victory. Biden’s red-baiting Sanders is just sleazy. To say that it’s wrong to point out that the Chinese government, however authoritarian, has raised millions of people out of poverty, or that Castro’s health care system was admirable, is demagogic. It’s no different from saying that it’s wrong to point out the evil things (Iraq? Trump?) that democracies do. We are not Republicans. Every statement does not have to be a dishonest political manipulation. We should be able to make simple observations about what is right and what is wrong in the same country or person.
tls (Northport Michigan)
Biden can wrap up the only segment of the Democratic Party that still is standing on the outside looking in - the progressives - by selecting Elizabeth Warren as his V.P.
V (this endangered planet)
@tls I would love to see her appointed as the Head of Treasury.
Mike (Rural New York)
“ when he helped create many of them as a leader in the Senate (even if they were the unintended side effects of well-intended legislation). ” If they were unintended side effect, then he didn’t ‘help’ create what you view as negatives. Words have meanings. Use them judiciously.
Seb Williams (Orlando, FL)
It’s never “right now”. Next time, next time, next time. I get it now. Old people are feeling a fraction of the anxiety and uncertainty that young people have been feeling since 2008. Hope and change? Out the window. Biden is promising to let them die in peace, which is apparently the reason he’s running for President. Drag out the record player and play “happy times are here again” all night, while the world burns.
M. D. (Florida)
@Seb Williams Seb, You make valid points. But reality is what it is. Unless and until our youth takes the time and energy to vote in massive numbers, (and I wish you and your peers would do just that), the old people, our most reliable voters, will determine who our leaders are, which will determine what our legislation is, which will determine the path our great country takes.
fxfx (New York)
The biggest takeaway: NO AUDIENCES is the way to go for all future election debates. No talk-show-style cheering from committed shill sections. Less pre-arranged one-liners and “zingers” designed to get a laugh. More focus on the ideas and words of the candidates. With no audience to “play” to, Donald Trump would not be President.
fxfx (New York)
The biggest takeaway: NO AUDIENCES is the way to go for all future election debates. No talk-show-style cheering from committed shill sections. Less pre-arranged one-liners and “zingers” designed to get a laugh. More focus on the ideas and words of the candidates. With no audience to “play” to, Donald Trump would not be President.
Thucydides (Columbia, SC)
Whew. Joe didn't stumble. Joe's a good guy, but he wasn't my 1st choice. Or my second, third, fourth or fifth. But I'll support him to the hilt because he's Jill's husband.:) And because he's not Donald Trump.
Linda (New Jersey)
The elephant in the room (the Republican elephant) is that if Biden is the nominee, he will have to respond again and again to their claims that he colluded with his son to do something illegal in Ukraine. When he was asked about this on the campaign trail, he was inappropriate, lost his temper, even got nasty. Why was it alright for a panel member to question Sanders about saying that Castro improved education in Cuba (which was hammered to death at the last debate), but Biden gets a free pass on his vulnerability? If he couldn't handle the issue tonight, how will he do when Trump throws it in his face? He should have been asked to explain his position on that. It isn't going away.
Claire Green (Washington DC)
@Linda This is just silly. The Trump team manufacture of a Biden controversy never had an ounce of traction except among Fox viewers.
Linda (New Jersey)
@Claire Green My point is that Hunter Biden's innocence or guilt is irrelevant to Trump and the Republicans. They'll hammer away at the issue, and Joe Biden needs to reply calmly and intelligently. He hasn't managed to do that yet. He becomes defensive, sarcastic, and even nasty, which makes it look as though he has something to hide. In general, he tends to resort to sarcasm and smirking when he feels challenged. He needs to replace those responses ASAP.
Chris (Seattle, WA)
Bernie’s lack of specifics and refusal to answer direct questions is startling. Disappointed the moderators (and obviously NYT editorial board) didn’t call him on it. He has a seeming inability to answer any question without the stump speech siren of, “It’s a disaster! millionaires! billionaires! political revolution!” I still don’t understand what he will actually DO if elected and HOW he will do it. Apparently all he’s ever done is vote no on every major policy proposal of the last 30 years. Am I the only one that notices that? I mean good grief. Leadership is more than complaining and saying no to everything. It requires struggle, compromise, and fighting for a MORE perfect union. Biden is so much more competent, thoughtful, reasoned, and nuanced on every major issue facing this country and the world as a whole. The contrast with just the two of them on stage was stark. Can’t wait for Tuesday when the voters (aka rigged democratic establishment) put he final nail in Bernie’s political coffin and we can all get on with the real task at hand: handing trump a resounding and unequivocal defeat so that he and his disastrous presidency can be swept into the dustbin of history as a cautionary tale that we can’t take our democracy for granted. We must fight for it every day. Elections matter. Staying engaged matters. And apathy and false equivalency has disastrous consequences. I would encourage the NYT editorial board to do the same.
J Maier (Michigan)
I don't think the comments by Sanders about China's poverty reduction are the problem. I agree with him that history isn't always just black or white. Bad people aren't always completely evil. The Fidel Castro comments are more questionable, but it's the same idea. The real problem is that he never seems to make the same excuses for America which is objectively a better place than China or Cuba. It would be greatly reassuring if he said that America was a better place to live than literally every communist country.
Grant (Boston)
One would expect that Biden and Sanders would act more Presidential not panicked. But this newest Democrat debate debacle revealed another chapter in disintegration in leadership within this quickly collapsing Party. Both Bernie and Biden matched premonitions of pandemonium fueled by blame shifting when leadership calls for calm and unity. With feral eyes projecting the contempt his words provided, Biden has now rubbed elbows with Sanders in his distrust of capitalism in America as providing solutions for any imagined illness or created contagion now or in the future. Announcing army barracks on every street and perhaps martial law right around the corner, Biden’s utter collapse of calmness provides direct evidence of this man’s complete lack of leadership and unfitness for high or any office of responsibility. This swift movement to the left has marched past reason into the abyss of fear wrapped in moral decay without a safety net when inevitable death arrives.
Brown (Southeast)
Seems your reviewers watched a different debate than I. Per usual, Sanders sometimes came off at his curmudgeonly worst. Other times, he sounded the sincere prophet, not just the angry one. Biden, on the other hand, offered platitudes, not vision. His attacks on Sanders came off as shrill and rehearsed. The "Bernie is really a commie who loves Cuba and Russia" was beneath him and straight out of the Trump playbook. He had no defense of his ties to Wall St. and corporate money. Too often he seemed to be flailing rather than rebutting Sander's charges. Yeah, I suspect he'll be the nominee. Yes, I'll hold my nose and vote for him. But I will do so begrudgingly. Biden doesn't support the issues and ideas that matter to me and mine.
Andrew Shin (Toronto)
Biden appeared more comfortable on stage than in any of his other performances. Two debaters only--his interlocutor a man his age--no audience, and the clear frontrunner again. Biden "won" the debate because the bar is set so low for him. Bernie "lost" the debate because his ideas are too far "left" and because of his personality. As Elizabeth, Jamelle, and Hector observe, Bernie was clearly more energetic and intellectually acute. Bernie's interpretation of this latest pandemic as an indictment of the current health care system was very persuasive. One cannot take these postmortems too seriously as the NYT has amply demonstrated a bias in favor of Biden, although the key culprits are not represented here. The fix is in: Bernie cannot win and Joe cannot lose. For Democrats to win, all that is left is for Joe to adopt Bernie's ideas and implement them through the force of his affability.
Jim (Placitas)
Sanders made a point of bragging that over the course of his career he has never wavered in his voting record, his ideology, or his beliefs. Which, in most cases is a good thing, but in this case came across as strident and inflexible. Most people know that in politics refusing to compromise is not a pathway to success or getting anything done. In Bernie's case, for all his ideological purity, he cannot point to a single social democratic policy he has advocated for over the years which has made it into law. He would say this is because the system is rigged and owned by billionaires, but it's also possible that his unwillingness to compromise, ever, marginalizes his ability to get anything done. His single greatest liability in this campaign has been his absolute refusal to compromise on Medicare For All (Whether You Want It Or Not), even though the majority of Democratic voters disagree with this extreme, and prefer Medicare For All (Who Want It). He scored points by pointing out how Biden had changed his vote and position on various things over the years, and claimed that this showed a deficiency of leadership compared to his intractable consistency. I'm not sure I agree that rigid inflexibility is the best mark of a leader.
Kingfish52 (Rocky Mountains)
"Americans need Bernie’s plans, but unfortunately they want Biden to shepherd them." I see a strong parallel between Sanders and Moses. Moses too tried to "work the system", rising up in Egyptian governance, but saw his people continue to suffer and ultimately he led them out of Egypt. Bernie chose to try and remake the Democratic Party rather than launch a new one, but the party leadership was never going to let that happen. They are as unmovable as Pharoah. But Bernie has motivated millions of Americans and gotten them to see that neither party is working for them, and they're willing and eager to be led to some new paradigm. The problem however is that in these terrifying times, many are too afraid to let go of the old ways completely. Bernie has shown them his vision, which is compelling, but in the end, when he himself had to choose to leave the party, he decided to stay. At this point I doubt that he'll choose to split off to challenge Biden and Trump as a third party candidate. Ironically, what has beaten him is the fear of taking that huge "leap of faith" that kept him married to the Democratic Party, a fear that kept millions of non-Sanders voters from supporting him. But the vision he had is indelible, and will be carried forward, if not by the Democrats, then by a new party that springs up to support it. In all likelihood it won't come true in Bernie's lifetime, but will still be his legacy. In the end, he was too much of a Democrat for the Democratic Party.
David Lindsay Jr. (Hamden, CT)
I'm with Gail and Nicole. I gave Joe Biden a 9. I second Gail's comments. Bernie Sanders I gave a 4. He is so negative, and kept throwing rocks, over and over, which kept making me think, stop it, that makes you look small, and Biden as if he has invisible armour. I keep hearing, and believe, that Bernie got less done in Congress than almost any other congressman. It's not enough to be right, you have to listen, be respectful, have a sense of humor, and get along. His social skills are as bad as his ideas are good. Futhermore, every Republican former Trump supporter I've interviewed, which is only four, have said that if Sanders or Warren were the nominee, they would stick with Trump. David blogs at InconvenientNews.Net
Chris (Seattle, WA)
Last night’s debate made clear that Bernie is the “anti” candidate. Was striking how he has seemingly voted “no” on every major piece of legislation in the past 30 years. He’s great at pointing out problems, but doesn’t seem interested in explaining how to fix them in any realistic sense. Defaulting to, “everything is a disaster. Millionaires. Billionaires. Political revolution,” is not leadership. Leadership requires compromise, an appreciation of the makeup of the Congress, and a realistic assessment of what can get passed in the present. Moral battles don’t change lives, legislation does. Joe Biden understands the nuance, complexity, and dogged determination it takes to fight to pursue a more perfect union. Which is why he is the best candidate for POTUS. Bernie is incapable of leading this country because he does not appreciate the aforementioned nuance, complexity, and compromise strong leadership entails to make substantive change in the lives of citizens. I found his responses last night (responses, not answers) to specific questions woefully inadequate and downright insulting to the American people who are craving leadership and tangible change in a time of crisis. I continue to be disappointed at the NYT editorial board’s apparent unwillingness to challenge Bernie on, let alone acknowledge, these fundamental issues. They certainly have enjoyed repeated character assassinations on Biden for the better part of the last year. As “Fair and balanced” as Fox imo. Shame.
Cathy (Hope well Junction Ny)
From a pragmatic view, Biden has experience with total meltdown crises. He knows everyone, and can put good teams in place quickly, fill the vacuum created by the small government zealots. He is right that we have enough disruption. I am bummed that in most ways Sanders is the better campaigner and Biden the better prospect. Both men are old enough that they should be looking for a very experienced running mate, who has a good reputation for actual management. I am delighted they are looking at women; I hope neither chooses solely for gender. But first and foremost, the job of every American who thinks that this Presidency has been a total goat rodeo, is to support whomever the Democrat is who wins the nomination.
Harvey (NC)
@Cathy There are so many good female candidates there is no reason not to chose solely for gender. It's time for a female on the ticket and a black female on SCOTUS.
Sean Reynolds (Cincinnati)
I had high hopes that Bernie Sanders would be a statesman last night, closing ranks with Joe Biden to begin a unified Democratic campaign to decisively defeat Trump and Trumpism in November. Sadly, he opted instead to attack Biden (and in so doing served up more ammo for the GOP hate/propaganda machine). Trump will predictably weaponize the accusation that "Biden tried to take away your Social Security and then lied about it...just ask Bernie Sanders." Far more troubling is the prospect that Sanders' followers will hand another election to Trump, either by opting out, or worse, voting for Trump in protest as so many did in 2016. Bernie, be a statesman and do the right thing! End your campaign, throw your unbridled support and full energies behind Joe Biden, and summon your supporters to do the same!
Marko (US)
@Sean Reynolds He did not attack him at all. Biden is establishment-only at this point. He is leaving tons of people and interests out. And he is so snarky and mean and attacked that union member. Bernie is doing his job because with the DNC pushing Bernie out, Bernie must ensure, for the good of all of us, that Biden makes commitments to doing the right thing. Bernie was actually very soft-handed with him. He did not let him get away with the lies on Social Security but how could he? Biden has to know he won't get away with that stuff and he'd better learn now before he is in the real lion's den with Trump. Bernie is doing him a favor.
newsmaned (Carmel IN)
There's already a revolution in this country, and it's coming from the far right. Trump isn't the cause of this revolution; he's a malignant narcissist who has no idea what he's doing but just knows he deserves adulation for just being there. That makes him easily lead by people who do have ideas. He's not the leader; he's the weapon being wielded by some very dark people. The issue is not which Democrat is best at bringing reform. The issue is which one can best fight against the people who would take away everything truly worth having. Biden at least will have the institutional loyalty of whatever part of the government that hasn't been corrupted yet. I just hope it is enough.
Observer (Washington, D.C.)
@newsmaned Biden follows orders just like Trump, and from the same people. He's a non-starter. Plus unelectable.
RH (WI)
I frequently tried to imagine Trump on the stage with either of the two Democratic candidates. It goes without saying that he would be utterly incapable of engaging on the issues with any degree of competence or knowledge of policy details. Of course, he would demonstrate his shallow, crude personality without a hint of self-awareness or class. What the Democratic nominee (presumably Biden) will have to be prepared to do is persistently demonstrate the differences in personality and seriousness, and parry his low brow debate schtick with a mixture of disdain for Trump’s behavior and elevation of the terms of debate. Don’t get into the gutter with Trump; that’s his playing field- leave him to it.
Socrates (Downtown Verona. NJ)
Joe Biden is way more defensive (and dishonest) than he needs to be....and he has trouble admitting the truth sometimes, e.g., regarding his SuperPac and his support of freezing Social Security and Medicare and austerity budgets. https://www.newsweek.com/biden-denies-advocating-social-security-cuts-democratic-debate-1492428 It's fine if Trump and the GOP serially lie, but fairly or unfairly, Democrats prefer a higher standard of behavior. Obviously Biden is head and shoulders above Trump on human decency, but he really needs to work on his defensiveness and dishonesty flaws that make him look (and act) unPresidential. D to go forward; R for reverse.
Longestaffe (Pickering)
I couldn’t watch the debate, but it seems from these reviews that Sanders didn’t approach the subject of the coronavirus pandemic in a different way than Biden; he pivoted away from it to talk about the things that are his stock in trade. That’s a breathtaking example of an ivory-tower mentality. The very people who would benefit most from structural change can least afford to have political leaders ruminating about it just now. In the midst of a worsening crisis, focusing on crisis management as Biden did shows a mind better conditioned for actual leadership.
Observer (Washington, D.C.)
@Longestaffe So a Biden supporter who didn't even watch the debate think Biden won. What a shocking revelation. I'm sure Deplorables also think Trump beat them both. By the way, Bernie addressed the pandemic far better than Big Pharma Biden did.
Annie P (Washington, DC)
While I have no doubt that Biden will be the candidate Sanders is right about Medicare for All and quite a lot of other things. I hope the progressive agenda stays with us and is implemented at some point but right now we need to get rid of Donald Trump and his conservative allies. Cleaning up their mess will take a long time and the revolution can wait.
Arthur (AZ)
I love Joe, but Bernie is the clear winner. He wants to get things done for those who are less fortunate than most of us here on the NYTimes comment section. I'd give up 2-4% income for a safer world for everyone.
God (Heaven)
All Joe had to do to "win" the debate in the eyes of the ruling class was to show up and not say anything inappropriate.
seniorsandy (VA)
It doesn't matter whether Biden won the debate. All that millions of voters want is a return to to the Obama years. Biden is the only candidate who offers that.
David Gifford (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware)
Please, Sanders case of tying Medicare for All to better fighting the Coronavirus is laughable. Most of Europe, including Italy are already on this type of system. I wonder how they’re fairing. You can’t fight a virus with better insurance. You need better leadership and Biden won there.
Cynthia Stewart (Topeka, Kansas)
@David Gifford No, single payer won't stop viruses, but it does ensure that *everyone* gets health care without burdensome costs! That peace of mind and knowing you'll be well taken care of are important. So, Sanders highlighting the importance of Medicare for All in light of pandemics is right on target and shows leadership. Glib dismissals, such as saying they have the virus in Italy, misses the point entirely. While the pandemic spreads in the U.S., Trump and the Republicans balked at expanding Medicaid to help the poor and working class cope with the spreading epidemic. That right there shows the difference.
Darrell (Pennsylvania USA)
@David Gifford Yet no one in Europe files for bankruptcy due to medical expenses. Bernie wins this argument.
David (Arlington)
When I turned off the debate last night, I thought: "Wow, tomorrow everybody will be talking about the fact that Joe Biden repeatedly lied about his time as a Senator and Vice President. Surely, this will be *the* topic discussed by the media." But then I read this analysis and am still wondering whether I saw a different event. Perhaps I am crazy. Or gaslighting does work.
William Case (United States)
During Sunday’s debate, Joe Biden accused Republicans of lying when they say he favors open borders. But he also said: “Number two, the first 100 days of my administration, no one will be deported at all. From that point on, the only deportations that will take place are commissions of felonies in the United States of America.”  How could this be described as anything other than an open border policy? It means that no one who steps onto U.S. territory could be removed unless they commit a felony. This means anyone who sets foot on U.S. soil could be required to leave unless they are arrested and convicted of committing a felony. . This would include any of the 79.62 million international visitors who disembark each year at international airports as well as the hundreds of thousands who cross the border illegally each year.
Stephanie (GA)
@William Case pretty sure he is talking about those already here but I could be wrong...
NFC (Cambridge MA)
Bernie cannot win. Biden was not my first, second, or third choice, but he is going to be the Democratic nominee. If Bernie wants to move Biden (further) left, then get a commitment to work on the Democratic platform and drop out. It is incredibly irresponsible to make people come out to vote tomorrow. But the Bernie people seem to know that, and they want to manipulate that to their advantage. Bernie surrogate Briahna Joy Gray is on Twitter saying that old people shouldn't come to vote on Tuesday to suppress the Biden vote. This is reprehensible.
profwilliams (Montclair)
What a sad looking stage: two old, White guys yammering about their 40 year old votes and positions. Biden was Biden: Boring and teetering on the edge of forgetting what he was talking about. But Bernie- for the first time in any debate- had me thinking that while he is not the best messenger, his message is not as crazy as I thought. I don't think either can beat Trump. But I do think Bernie's positions will be the clear winner in the next decade- regardless of who is President because they make sense.
Gene Eplee (Laurel, MD)
Sanders has no idea how to implement any of his policies, particularly without any party base in Congress. This happens when you spend your entire career attacking everybody as the enemy of the people.
Cynthia Stewart (Topeka, Kansas)
@Gene Eplee Not everybody! What nonsense. Sanders rightfully criticized the billionaire class and their control over our government, democracy, and society. If you don't understand that, read William Domhoff's Who Rules America? and, in educational policy, Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
nzierler (New Hartford NY)
Sanders lost the debate before it started. In this perilous time people are interested not in far left ideology but in practical solutions to a national crisis. Biden is the far better choice.
Robert Roth (NYC)
Both Biden and Sanders were asked how they would respond to the crisis. In January they will be faced not with this crisis but the catastrophic results that have transpired between now and then.
Rip (La Pointe)
Interesting that Sanders gets criticized for demonstrating characteristics that normally gain praise for other politicians: consistency and clarity. And now that the commentators are all breathing easy about his not being the nominee, they’ve decided to allow what they previously denied: that his progressive ideas are popular with Americans and his ‘revolution” has productively reshaped the values and perspectives of the Democratic Party, as much as it might have hoped otherwise. Thank you, Bernie Sanders.
Paul Wortman (Providence)
The optics of the Biden-Sanders debate couldn't have been more striking. Not since the Kennedy-Nixon debate have they sent such a strong, unmistakable message. Joe Biden looked so much younger than his 77 years standing up straight and looking so trim and healthy. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders looked every bit his 78 year slouching, scowling, and scornful. Biden looked and acted presidential; Sanders seemed a cranky and crotchety old man. As to the actual content of the debate. Biden more than held his own returning Sanders' scornful repetitive critique of his past stance on social security, trade and the Iraq War with his pointing out Sanders position on the TARP bailout, gun regulation and supportive comments about Fidel Castro and other dictators. But, in the end "the medium was the message" and it was a clear K.O. for Biden that should become clear after tomorrow's primaries.
J.Sutton (San Francisco)
@Paul Wortman I think that's a little extreme. Sanders tried his best and I think he projected a certain kindness, despite his idealistic stances. But I'm a Biden supporter.
Max Robe (Charlotte, NC)
@Paul Wortman Ah yes, that classic American fallacy of making a political choice as though one is shopping: led almost entirely by the look of the thing. It's the same error that drives the pundits to declare that "Biden won the night by announcing that he’ll pick a woman as vice president."
nzierler (New Hartford NY)
If Sanders' intention was to move Biden to the left he failed. Biden not only stood his ground but put Bernie in his place by placing him in an indefensible position regarding Medicare for All. Sanders simply cannot supply the numbers to demonstrate MFA will ever become legislation.
Max Robe (Charlotte, NC)
@nzierler My great concern is that no one in the Democratic Party will pay for what they've done to the working people of this country.
Peggy Sherman (Wisconsin)
It seems inevitable that Joe will be our nominee. And his debate performance last night made me feel better about that prospect. But Bernie's message is where my heart will always be. Sometimes he reminds me of an old testament prophet that no one is listening to, so no wonder he looks a little wild and angry. In the greatest country on earth, why don't we have a health care system that takes care of everyone. By the way, I don't know about Italy, but South Korea has universal health care, and by all accounts they are way ahead of us in tackling the corona virus.
Magan (Fort Lauderdale)
Ah, Gail, the government run health care system isn't what failed in Italy. The government run health care system in South Korea nailed it. So, what's your point? The problem in Italy was that they didn't shut things down in time with too many people arriving with the virus. They, the government, didn't move quickly enough at the outset. That's not a choice of the health care system, that's a choice of the politicians who dictate to the health care system.
Brown (Southeast)
@Magan Agree with your assessment. Was tasteless of Biden to besmirch Italy when they are going through so much.
usa999 (Portland, OR)
Neither Biden nor Sanders addressedan enormously important matter confronting a newly-elected Democratic president; how to respond to the numerous apparent violations of of the law and federal ethics codes by Donald Trump, members of his family, and others in his administration. I am not referring to the numerous examples of dubious judgment but to clear abuses of power and self-dealing . There is no little irony in Trump's allegations of corruption against the Bidens in Ukraine given his extraordinary displays during his term to date. Now I understand the desire to avoid inflaming Trump supporters by fanning Trump's capacity to summon grievance and martyrdom to rally support but I fear either Biden or Sanders will replicate the Obama failure in 2009, shying away from prosecution of those prompting or profiting from the collapse of the financial system.That failure contributed to the return of plunder and pillage as mainstays of Republican politics over the last decade as Republicans learned they had nothing to fear from abusing authority. Fail again and a more odious and competent version of Trump will end our democracy.
StuAtl (Georgia)
@usa999 I don't disagree those issues need to be pursued, but it's not a top priority in times of crisis. You have to put out the fire before you can hunt down the arsonist. And chanting "Lock them up" at this point isn't going to win over any voters, which is priority No. 1. Win the thing in November, then let the justice system take care of prior abuses of power.
usa999 (Portland, OR)
@StuAtl Although I agree with you, my concern is that just as a decade ago the rationale of first things first was a convenient segway into putting off pursuit of sanctions, essentially messaging that those responsible enjoy a kind of immunity. If you are successfull you win and if unsuccessful it is no gain, no harm, no foul. Burning at the stake would discourage the more fastidious, slow submersion in acid might deter the rest. A stern rebuke is ineffective.
Faye (Wisconsin)
I personally thought it was significant that Bernie "sorta" said he'd support Joe if Joe's the nominee, but he declined to say that he'd also encourage his supporters to do so.
Korla (New York)
@Faye No, he said that he would support him and would campaign for him.
William Neil (Maryland)
Bernie was true to form, that is to say, deeper than Biden, but unable to pivot even when Biden committed a remarkable hypocrisy. Two commentators here noted it, in muted tones. Biden's attack on Sanders for saying something good about China's poverty alleviation, hundreds of millions of peasants moved from rural subsistence to working class status in cities is a fact touted by conservative capitalists, professional economists and anyone who has eyes. Biden's own votes for trade deals, and Bill Clinton's efforts along with the corporate powers inside the democratic party pushed the WTO and entry for China at every point. No great superpower in history has ever laid out the red carpet for its demise the way we have for China, which has always been a dictatorship, Joe Biden, of the Communist Party of China, allowing capitalist initiative but no political dissent or challenge, parties or independent trade union. The hope of Western Neoliberals was that going the capitalist route (with lots of qualifiers, because it is not Western style capitalism, it is managed and planned still to a good degree) would usher in more freedom and the beginnings of democracy. It has for private entrepreneurs, not citizens. So the whole center of American capitalism sings the praises of capitalism's achievement in cutting poverty in China, but Biden attacks Sanders for citing it now. An intellectual low point for American politics. And Sanders couldn't score effectively off of it.
Brown (Southeast)
@William Neil Biden's "Bernie is a commie" smear was very Trump-like and very un-Presidential.
HL (Arizona)
@William Neil Anyone with a brain knows that China's big economic move came from their embrace of Capitalism under Deng Xio Ping. The Communist Chinese Party before capital reforms was a murderous failure that is reminiscent of Stalin's Russia.
cheryl (yorktown)
My overall impressions - Biden is acceptably sharp, and will utilize other strong minds with appropriate expertise to govern, with more fairness than we've seen in too long now. Sanders answered many questions well, and I respect his determination to reform government so that it provides for all of our people. I thought thathis comments about CUba and other dictatorships made sense: acknowledging that sometimes, an inhumane regime can still do some things right , w should not be considered an outrageous stance. Biden obfuscates when his answers might tend to incriminate him - - and some answers sound like obfuscation, but I'm not sure they are not just fuzzy. Some of that is undoubtedly necessary, but it irked me. Biden's "win" is not about his actual performance in the debate but about preconceived ideas of what is going to be necessary to pull voters out to defeat Trump.
College Prof (Brooklyn)
I disagree with Gail Collins (I rarely do). On the green economy Bernie is light years ahead of Biden, who is stuck in a dark cave wearing blinders. Biden's remark about Italy's universal health system shows the depth of his ignorance and his willingness to hit below the belt. He lied about the $15 minimum wage and flipped on free college tuition but still basically backs Petulant Pete's plan to exclude the rich (the rich already send their kids to private college or to major universities out of state.) Biden is perfectly comfortable with the Delaware's business model, the state where most large corporations are registered in order to enjoy legal advantages not provided to Bernie-six-pack.
Hugh McIsaac (Santa Cruz, CA)
@College Prof What debate did you watch? Clearly it was not the one I watched.
veeckasinwreck (chicago)
Bouie: "His problem, as always, is a career that includes four decades of Democratic retreats and Democratic compromises. And he still can’t quite answer for it." Well said. But I do not see Sanders as the guy with the temperament to bring the party to where it has to go; he strikes me as rigid, self-righteous, not particularly curious, and not at all skilled at cultivating relationships. That said, we all owe Bernie a massive debt of gratitude for moving the whole conversation to the left, for putting issues on the table that hitherto nobody dared talk about. It reminds me of the old joke about somebody getting lost on a back country road, ask asking an old farmer for directions. He is told, "If that is where I was going, I wouldn't have started from here." Biden is at heart a pragmatist, albeit with good political instincts. Like most politicians, his first loyalty is to his own ambition. But the political moment may have come where the pragmatic thing to do is to set out decidedly to the left. Biden may be the guy who can do it.
Edward (Wichita, KS)
Thank you, Michelle Goldberg, for being the one and only participant here to point out that: 1) Joe Biden was flat out dishonest in denying that he in fact entertained cuts to Social Security. Sanders brought up Bowles Simpson by name and still Biden denied the easily checked record. 2) Biden's attack on Sanders for pointing out that China has in fact raised millions out of abject poverty was indeed sleazy. Cheap attack tactics. This is why I don't trust Biden. He tends to go with the prevailing winds. I will of course vote for him if he is what we get. It will be easier if Elizabeth Warren is the Veep,
pm (world)
The only way Biden will implement serious reforms is if Congress and the Senate are controlled by the Democrats. So please lets all focus on that...
Gabbyboy (Colorado)
@pm That could be said for both candidates. However Sanders would struggle to convince a (even) Dem Congress to move forward with his proposed revolution.
KJ Peters (San Jose, California)
The Tuesday primary elections could settle the issue. Unless Sanders achieves some massive 10 to 20 point victories the delegate math will virtually eliminate him. 50-50 splits will do him no good. This isn't a partisan opinion, it is simple math. If he turns it around Tuesday then he should fight on. If he doesn't he needs to do the responsible thing and back out and unite with Biden to do the one thing that is critical for our countries survival. Get Trump out of the White House.
Robert (New York City)
Sanders is like the original Xerox, Biden is the company trying to ride the idea. I'd rather have the person who has been initiating and driving for addressing the basic concerns facing the country, on income inequality, healthcare, climate change, etc. That's Bernie, who would provide the kind of leadership we will need, vs. Biden, who will still be more of the same than a vibrant leader.
willw (CT)
@Robert - your comment is true blue and correct, in my view. The country needs a shock and a huge change and Bernie is the catalyst of progress toward "good" outcomes. Most of the citizenry, it seems, want more of the same (Biden).
Brown (Southeast)
@willw They've been frightened by the reality of Trump, but also the corporate media and Dem establishment that wants no attack on the current economic system. They all know which side the bread is buttered on.
Mike (Rural New York)
@Robert You can thank Haloid for that. Xerox managed to lose the fax, mouse, personal computer, windows equivalent, cloud computing, etc. Execution matters, and that’s where Biden matters.
J.Sutton (San Francisco)
I think we should remember that it's not just the promises and reassurances we hear each man give in debate and campaign. What's really important is how he would handle crises in office, whether he can remain calm and apply reason and intelligence in all instances, and could offer compassion as Obama did.
Polaris (North Star)
Sanders kept describing all of his protest votes in Congress as examples of "leadership." They're the opposite. He had no say in the outcome. Biden used a more strategic approach when he was in Congress and got to improve legislation that he didn't agree with. That's real leadership.
Cletus (Milwaukee, WI)
@Polaris The outcomes were disasters. Thank goodness for Bernie's votes.
Chris (Berlin)
@Polaris Biden’s “strategic” vote for the Iraq War , by itself, is a disqualifier.
Phil Keisling (Portland, OR)
Exactly when did proposals to reduce the rate of projected growth in a particular government program -- e.g. Social Security -- become universally characterized by journalists (including those at the New York Times" as a "cut?" You say "cut" to most Americans -- as in a "cut in pay" - and they rightly view it as actually getting a smaller paycheck next week.So forgive the 50 million Social Security retirees, many primarily reliant on their relatively small checks, for thinking they'll be getting less money -- as opposed to not seeing as large an annual increase as might otherwise occur. This is not a defense of Joe Biden's position on this issue - but a call for far more precision in the language used by Times' reporters and other respected journalists. The right words matter -- or should -- as this President's legion of lies and dissemblings remind us on a daily basis. Long before Trump was even a reality TV star, these kinds of insidious and inaccurate characterization of legitimate policy proposals -- not just for entitlements, but for things like Pentagon funding requests -- had become commonplace. The Times should do its part to hold all politicians to higher standards..
Mike (Rural New York)
@Phil Keisling As a social security recipient, I must say you are correct. Slowing growth is not a cut. Its responsibility.
Rick Green (San Francisco)
Sanders and his surrogates often tout his "consistency" over thirty years in politics. At 73, I am not much younger than Bernie, but he seems to me to be "doctrinaire." believing that his positions and proposals are THE only approaches that will correct our most pressing national problems. His inability to change his positions over his career, and as the country and world have changed is not encouraging to me. Consistency may be a desirable human trait in may situations, but politics requires an ability to compromise and find those small doable steps that can be built on to achieve the desired ends. Joe Biden isn't saying that we need to return to some halcyon day in the past, he is saying that we need to get back to some state of normalcy and build on that for the future.
Brown (Southeast)
@Rick Green Biden is running on "I'm not Trump" and "I'll be polite in the oval office." Enough for many. Maybe best we can expect in these times, but sad nonetheless. The so-called "progressive" issues are real!
Human (Iowa)
@Rick Green I agree. Biden recently said, "I am a bridge, and nothing more." Though I was supporting Pete, I am satisfied by Biden's improved debates, his recent endorsement acceptance speech to Pete and on Covid-19, his multiple endorsements from past competitors in this race, and his ringing endorsement by voters. I believe we'll get bold action on climate change, healthcare, and immigration with Biden as President -- despite what Sanders would have us believe. He is actively adopting and carrying forward some of the the best ideas on these topics. He points out the things he has worked to achieve in the past, but does not claim to be the originator of the ideas we must pursue now. Less ego, more teamwork mentality is what we need now.
Rick Green (San Francisco)
@Brown Of course progressive issues are important. Its not the issues I take exception to -- its the scorched earth. "my way or get out of the way" approach requiring legislation that will never even pass a Democratic controlled legislature -- both Houses -- that concern me.
writeon1 (Iowa)
It's going to take constant pressure to make Joe Biden a progressive, but Liz Warren has proven it can be done by getting him to adopt a couple of her policies already. One of the best arguments for her as VP is that she'd be there to whisper in his ear. Biden is definitely my settle-for-third-best candidate, but if he can reassure Americans and do the best job of driving Donald Trump out of the White House, I'm with him. In the end, Bernie's ideas will long outlive his candidacy, whether he's the nominee or not.
RKPT (RKPT)
There are bits of each commentary that are true. The only thing that wasn't said was that the debate was too long by about an hour. That didn't have to be the case, there's surely enough to talk about, but the constant re-hash of old votes and who said what once was extremely tiresome and irritating. I don't like Bernie and have never liked Bernie but I'll give him this - his major accomplishment after 30 or so years in government seems to be bringing progressive ideas into mainstream Democratic policy. Good for you Bernie and thank you. Please go home now. Perhaps what is said about making assumptions is true, but when Biden falters, as he did over the climate crisis, there is still confidence that he will draw an effective team around him. I'm not convinced that Bernie has it.
Mandy Feuerman (Florida)
What inspires me most about a Biden presidency is the likely the brilliance of his cabinet. With a female VP, excellent Secretaries, and a restored foreign service department (which was wantonly torn apart by the current administration), he’ll be ushering in a new age for the Democratic Party with the leaders he’ll choose to give voices. I see a bright future that will usher in change from the inside, not through a “revolution.” And even as a very young American in Bernie’s target group. I like this better.
Mike (Rural New York)
@Mandy Feuerman Exactly!
PaulM (Ridgecrest Ca)
Biden missed an early opportunity in one of the first questions to refute the claim by Trump that the response to the Coronavirus was hamstrung by disease control regulations imposed by the Obama administration. He should have anticipated that question and had a clear and accurate response that would have once and for all dismissed that claim. He is after all going to run against Trump and he was in the Obama administration. Instead he had a meandering response that clarified little.
Ted B (UES)
Trump's bungled coronavirus response may give Biden a fair shot in November. Before this pandemic began, polling in MI and WI showed Biden behind Trump, whereas Bernie was ahead in both states. I'm interested in seeing more recent polls. The problem with Joe Biden is that if nothing fundamentally changes under his presidency, as he famously promised donors last year, we risk electing a more competent Trump next time. That's my biggest fear of a Biden presidency, along with the fact that his climate plan is anemic.
Mike (Rural New York)
@Ted B If Biden does NOTHING you wish for during his presidency, you still have nothing to ‘fear’. Trump is proactive meanness (not to mention incuriously ignorant) and there is no comparison.
Gabbyboy (Colorado)
@Ted B With all respect for your comment..competent trump?
Eric (New York)
I was reassured by Biden’s performance. It’s a low bar, but he was the most articulate he’s been in any of the debates. I feel confident Biden, if elected, will follow the advice of experts, whether it’s confronting COVID-19 or climate change or any other issue. I am less sure he is sincere in his significant leftward move (thanks to Bernie) and his willingness or ability to fight for the progressive agenda he claims to support now. It is essential Sanders, Warren and even Buttigieg and Klobuchar and other “moderates” (who are still progressive) make him stick to his promises. Biden really could be the bridge to a new, more leftward leaning, Democratic Party.
willw (CT)
@Eric - did you witness any of Biden's performance during the Anita Hill hearings ? Probably not with this comment above. Biden is a slender reed that bends in the direction of the current wind. He is not strong and declarative - he'll say and do anything to satisfy his "important" associates.
Jason (Chicago)
I think Elizabeth Warren had as good or better of a night on the stage as either of these guys. Seems like her ideas were everywhere.
Lefthalfbach (Philadelphia)
Bernie is the ideological leader OF A WING OF THE PARTY. He is not the ideological leader of the entire Democratic Party. anyway, the Primary actually ended in South Carolina. everything since has been confirmation.
walts (San Ramon, CA)
@Lefthalfbach Let me try your argument out but in reverse. Biden is the ideological leader OF THE “CENTRIST” WING OF THE PARTY. He is not the ideological leader of the entire party. Bernie not only has more passionate supporters in his “wing” of the party, he has more support from the 1/3 of the country who identify as independent. His policies of Medicare for all, college education, et al, are widely popular for the majority of Americans.
Mel (NY)
The strongest moment in the debate for me was when Sanders pressed Biden on his history of vocal support for austerity measures, including cuts to social security and medicare. Sanders did not let him off the hook and asked him to be honest and Biden continued to deny his own history. (Which anyone can view on Youtube, or if you feel skeptical about the number of videos that show Biden supporting these cuts on the senate floor, you can also check the congressional record). Sanders also successfully made the point that leadership is about making the right decisions-- even when they are unpopular decisions. This for me is the strongest argument in favor of Sanders and against Biden. Biden didn't blow it-- he was energetic and focused (which is not always the case). His movement left on education funding was welcome-- but I still do not trust him to make the right decisions. Better than Trump? Of course. But we are in crisis and need someone who is not afraid to make bigger moves to secure our health, environment, and economy.
David Gifford (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware)
@Mel Stop looking at past times without context. The discussions at that time made sense. The same for Bernie on gun control in Vermont, which he seems to have changed now. People evolve, especially the smart ones.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Mel ...What did Sanders accomplish in 30 years in Congress. What matters is here the rubber meets the road.
Chris (Berlin)
@W.A. Spitzer He accomplished to not vote for an illegal war of aggression against Iraq. That alone makes Sanders the better candidate, among a long list of reasons.
Robert Bott (Calgary)
Not just six feet apart on the stage, Joe also did a pretty good job of "socialist distancing." His performance made me feel better about my reluctant mail-in primary vote. As to the VP choice, I think Harris is too "coastal." So is Warren, and probably too politically distant--great to have in cabinet or Senate though. Abrams lacks experience and hasn't been tested in the primary process. That leaves Klobuchar, and that's fine with me. She and Warren switched places several times as my favorites throughout the race, and like the NY Times editorial endorsement, I am happy with either one.
HL (Arizona)
These are two bad candidates but Bernie really made the case for why the left is shrinking even among democrats. He keeps attacking and saying he will get rid of or disrupt major industries because they are corrupt and evil. The carbon industry employees a huge amount of blue collar workers. Drug and insurance companies employ a lot of scientists and middle class workers. There will be massive disruption in those jobs if we close down fracking and drive out all profits. Those employees need to be brought along compassionately. Calling them corporate tools is a losing argument. Making the argument for China development because it's a communist regime, ignores the major pivot made by Deng Xio Ping to open up the Chinese economy to capitalism. It was capitalism not the communist revolution that moved China forward. The Communist Party in China murdered millions of Chinese and kept them in abject poverty for a very long time. They are still an authoritarian country but it is capitalism that has moved them out of poverty. Bernie has lost and his minority from 2016 is shrinking. Joe Biden isn't great but he isn't hated either. He will put together a strong administration serve 1 term and move along.
Cletus (Milwaukee, WI)
@HL Did you ever drive through the great wind powered electrical generation fields between Chicago and Indianapolis? Lots of roughness looking guys working there.
Lee (MIchigan)
I was underwhelmed by both candidates' performance. I noticed Wajahat Ali's comment that Americans like Bernie's plan, but "Want Biden to shepherd them." Bernie had ideas, but the ideas candidate was without a doubt Elizabeth Warren, who actually had a plan for executing her ideas. Biden's reference to his conversation with her is not receiving the attention it should. Stacey Abrams should be his VP choice.
LTJ (Utah)
There is much more to criticize about Biden because he has an actual record. And as a physician, I found Sanders’ answers about COVID to be vapid and lacking in any details for action. Instead he just engaged his media training and pivoted to his mantra for revolution. And Sanders had no answer about Italy, where older patients are sent home to basically pray. Sanders is an agitator, Biden a leader - that’s what the debates taught us.
Brown (Southeast)
@LTJ His answer to Italy should have been the success of S. Korea and their National health care system.
RRI (Ocean Beach, CA)
Sanders missed the opportunity to challenge directly Biden's almost funny rush leftward toward "democratic socialism" to address the Corona virus: "So, what I'm hearing is that you want basically single-payer Medicare for All, now, and to address economic inequality with direct assistance to working Americans, now, but, afterwards, you want everything to go back to "normal" with vague promises of incremental change. If my policies are right for American now, why are they not right for America then?"
Dee (Cincinnati, OH)
If the last few weeks have taught us anything, it is the importance of competent leadership. While I like some of Sanders's ideas, his apparent inflexibility is not what many people are looking for right now. Americans need health insurance, but those with insurance are not going to vote for massive change in the midst of a healthcare crisis. We need a reset: back to stability, sanity, and truth. Biden may not be as progressive as many Democrats would like, but he'll get us back to what used to be considered normal, which is what so many people are craving right now.
walts (San Ramon, CA)
@Dee I wonder how all those people who have insurance and likes their plan will feel if/when they get sick and then will be stuck with big out of pocket costs. Or the hikes in premiums ALL of us will have next year when insurance companies will try to recoup the added expenses from this year and the factoring of future outbreaks of contagions by the actuaries.
wmferree (Middlebury, CT)
“His problem, as always, is a career that includes four decades of Democratic retreats and Democratic compromises.” With a little luck...and help from a health crisis and the financial slap that it triggers, we will get a Democratic Congress, one that presents President Joe with laws to sign that take us back toward our “better angels” as a democracy. A woman as VP is a good decision, not pandering, at this point in time. Val Demings would be an excellent choice, a career police officer who rose through the ranks to the top where she demonstrated competence as a leader/manager. She and her husband are both respected in their field and well-liked at home. During Trump's impeachment she showed she is in her league in Washington.
She (Miami,FL)
@wmferree Although disappointed in Biden's "bow" to the pressure of "identity politics" rather than the best candidate, in contrast to Sanders who does not "bow"(Mayor Pete would have been an excellent choice to debate V.P. Pence--especially on faith and moral values), suggest taking a look again at Sally Yates. Perhaps with this bow, he will be Trumped by his choice facing a feisty and sharp tongued Nikki Haley. Kamala Harris would be an awful choice after Haley dissects her hypocritical and racist prosecutorial record.
Mark Gardiner (KC MO)
Fairly early in the debate, Biden said (not an exact quote) "They have a single-payer system in Italy, and look how it's failing them in the coronavirus pandemic." I wish Bernie had, at that moment, said, "Joe, the World Health Organization ranks Italy as #2 among all nations in delivering health care to its citizens. The U.S. is ranked #37." Of course, that would never happen, because Bernie doesn't really respond, he just repeats. (Not a specific criticism of either one, because Biden's not light on is feet either.) But bashing Italy was a cheap shot, and one that I'll remember when, in a few weeks, things are worse here. Italy has more doctors and hospital beds per capita than we do. No Italian is afraid of bankruptcy right now. Meanwhile, no matter what anyone tells us, millions of Americans won't believe they can afford to see a doctor, and millions of Americans know that no one will take care of us if we stop working. Sanders should have said, "Joe, before bashing Italy's response to this pandemic, you should really wait to see how we're handling it in two or three weeks."
Robert Bott (Calgary)
@Mark Gardiner Before praising Italian medicine, I recommend you read the memoir published last year by an American doctor who has practiced in Rome since 1978: "Dottoressa" by Susan Levenstein (Paul Dry Books). The Italian system has many flaws, which Levenstein describes with wit and wisdom. My conclusion after reading was that Italians score well on so many health indicators mainly because of diet, culture, and lifestyle, rather than the superiority of medical care. The author also contrasts the US and Italian systems, highlighting strengths and weaknesses of each. Living in Canada, I have seen yet another proof that no system is perfect, and we should learn from the virtues and vices of each.
She (Miami,FL)
@Mark Gardiner RE: "Meanwhile, no matter what anyone tells us, millions of Americans won't believe they can afford to see a doctor..." I have personally witnessed the health decline and death through neglect of 64 year olds, unable to work because of ailing health, who have that old fashioned American mentality that you don't go to the doctor or show up at an emergency room unless you have the money to pay for it. They persist in that mentality even here in Miami, where emergency rooms are flooded with those who show up for free care for minor ailments because they have no health insurance so don't make an appointment with a doctor. I am disappointed that Biden is not more open to more radical health options, because the dire situation on the ground for Americans living sick in the shadows of their home, or on the street, homeless, requires a more radical solution. Obamacare is not enough. The radical first step should be to expand medicare to everyone 60 to 64, whom I would bet are among the sickest of the uninsured; and also extend medicare to those younger persons with health threatening ailments, like a defective heart or cystic fibrosis, etc. Then, afterwards, medicare could be expanded downwards encompassing all, until it becomes the human right it always has been, a view any truly civilized nation would recognize and adopt.
Brown (Southeast)
@Mark Gardiner Was an extremely insensitive remark about Italy.
Kristin (Portland, OR)
"People want results, not a revolution." With that, Biden managed to capture exactly the reason why Bernie Sanders is the wrong person for this time. Bernie Sanders needs to drop out, right now. I only wish we could hold the general election tomorrow and rid ourselves right now of that abomination currently occupying the White House. People kept saying early on in this primary process that Joe Biden's time had passed, but you know what? Turns out, and his debate performance last night only made this even more clear, he is exactly the right person to lead this country through a crisis of a magnitude that many never imagined they would see in their lifetime.
Jay (Green Bay)
@Kristin I wish Biden had asked Bernie why most of what he proposes is not law now, despite Sanders being a senator all this time! Anyone can peddle great proposals but details on how he/she will make that into legislation that becomes law is where Bernie has been allowed to escape scrutiny. I know all the he voted against but I want to know how many important issues close to his heart has he managed to successfully find into solutions for during his years in the senate. Yes, results, not grand proposals, constant pointing out of structural problems with no concrete plan to fix them and revolution that sounds great on paper are not what the country needs right now. I do like Bernie's passion though.
Ilana (New York)
@Kristin I realize we have the country we deserve. No leadership in the midst of a pandemic. And the worst is yet to come. That people don't realize that DJT is just a symptom of all that is wrong with this country is baffling. The coronavirus is one of the existential threats we face; that are more to come, the most significant being climate change. People like mediocre leaders so they get what they deserve. They are in denial that they can go back to the Obama years and still keep making the same mistakes.
David in Le Marche (Italy)
Ms. Collins, Biden's "comeback" about Italy's single-payer healthcare system - to which Bernie didn't respond - was a perfect example of what's wrong with our sound-bite politics and the usual debate format. Sure, it sounded really clever to anyone who knows next to nothing about what is actually happening here in Italy, but I would expect any NYT columnist to give a little context. The fact that over 20,000 Italians have contracted the corona virus and about 2,000 have already died is not remotely attributable to single-payer healthcare except in the sense that without this system here, the totals would be far worse, more in line with what is likely to happen in the USA shortly if Trump and his toadies can't get their act together. The problem here is that the government waited about 2 weeks too long before shutting the country down and that people were in denial, unaccustomed to problems of this magnitude. But now that this horror is here, the Italians at all levels, healthcare workers and ordinary citizens, are doing their jobs and making sacrifices, as if they held their lives in each others' hands. I hope Americans will do as well over the coming weeks and months.
Jay (Green Bay)
@David in Le Marche I doubt he meant the problem in Italy was attributable to single-payer health care. On the contrary, he pointed out that Medicare For All would not fix issues of this nature as Bernie claimed. Get real please!
Mel (NY)
@David in Le Marche I had wished Sanders had responded to that as well. My understanding of the Italian health care system is that its regarded as one of the best in Europe and I read they have twice as many ICU beds as we do. Those in glass houses should not throw stones.
David in Le Marche (Italy)
@Jay I think he meant that single-payer healthcare was no better for confronting a pandemic than the USA's absurd mishmash of employer-provided private insurance, Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare, the VET, and uninsured people flooding emergency rooms or avoiding testing for fear of missing work and losing salary. It may be that no healthcare systems are really able to easily defeat this sort of pandemic without serious and costly advance planning. That said, Biden's quip was gratuitous and insulting to Italians, who are proud to be covered by one of the world's best healthcare systems. In Italy, the idea that any citizen might need to forgo healthcare for lack of money is unknown, and most people I know here agree that profit-driven healthcare is barbaric. In fact, Medicare-for-all as proposed by Bernie Sanders would be great for the USA if Americans could just get over feeling superior to the rest of the world.
wildwest (Philadelphia)
Donald J. Trump was clearly the loser of last night's Democratic debate. Both Bernie and Biden proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they would make a better president than he does. In my view, Joe fared slightly better than Bernie did. Worried Democrats should be very relieved. Joe was poised, calm, clear headed and self confident. Bernie kept falling back on his greatest hits. Yes Bernie, we know we have to have "the guts" to take on the pharmaceutical industry but what does that look like exactly? The devil is in the details and Bernie doesn't seem like a detail guy. That said, he has some great ideas and Joe should make sure to include the progressive wing of the party going forward, not revert to Bill Clinton's old GOP lite formula which only pushes the party inexorably to the right. Americans are exhausted and scared after living through four years of a Trumpian nightmare. COVID-19 has only underscored those fears by displaying how completely incompetent the current administration is. Americans want a restoration not a revolution at this point, and Joe Biden seems like the man to give them what they want. Still, we must keep our eyes on the ball. Biden may the man of the moment, but Bernie still wins on ideas.
Almost Can’t Take It Anymore (California)
For once, I would like to see moderators ask small, specific questions throughout the debate. Let debaters go from micro to macro. Rather than these large vague macro questions (that completely depend on a cooperative Senate). Will you reinstate weekly press conferences and how? How will You rebuild infrastructure, which Trump said he would do and has not. How will you reverse the hollowing out of health and environmental regulations? etc. Then let them work UP to what they would do on a national level. I am beyond sick of these moderators. Except for the PBS debate, debates have been reduced to a ratings-driven sideshow.
James Constantino (Baltimore, MD)
@Almost Can’t Take It Anymore The problem with small questions is that the answers are pretty obvious for both Biden and Sanders... "Will you reinstate weekly press conferences and how?" --> Yes, by having a press secretary who is willing to answer questions truthfully. "How will You rebuild infrastructure, which Trump said he would do and has not." --> Easy. By using the national emergency that Trump declared (and the GOP senate ratified) to divert money from the wall to actual infrastructure projects. "How will you reverse the hollowing out of health and environmental regulations?" --> By hiring back the professionals that the Trump administration fired back to their old positions. If the GOP congress gives any pushback then simply use the national emergency declaration that Trump made to build his wall (which, once again was approved by the GOP Senate) to divert money from all the military bases in Red states to pay for these experts (throwing Trump back in their faces really is the gift that keeps on giving). etc...
V. Sharma, MD (Falls Church, VA)
I'm a Bernie supporter but can everyone relax about how Biden is not progressive? Warren definitely has his ear and the party instead of sharply turning progressive is more steadily moving there. I suspect by 2024 or 2028 the progressive candidate the Democrats put up will be president. I'll take Biden and work towards the progressive ideals in the long-term
She (Miami,FL)
@V. Sharma, MD AOC will become of age to run for president in 2024. That should be an interesting race if she pits herself against Warren. I suspect that AOC will be the progressive candidate, and Warren will position herself to be the Biden like alternative.
Sean (Greenwich)
@V. Sharma, MD Really? If that's the case, then why hasn't she endorsed him? Then why hasn't Biden adopted her policies? No way that Biden is an Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders progressive. He's been a conservative "friend of the GOP" for decades. If elected, he won't do squat!
Joe (Lansing)
Please correct me if I am wrong. Bernie brushed aside the opening question about his recent heart attack; and he still hasn't come forward with his health records. He seemed surprised by the VP question: it looked like he hadn't begun to consider who might play second fiddle to the Bernie show. Certainly not someone who might balance the ticket, but instead an echo chamber, someone who will guarantee he loses in November. And he looked really surprised when Biden let it be known that he had discussed the bankruptcy bill with Elizabeth Warren. Warren, like Biden, and NOT like Bernie, knows how to get things done.
She (Miami,FL)
@Joe Bernie has made it clear that he does not bow to "identity" politics, as Warren has pushed since the alleged conversation she had with Bernie behind closed doors. (Unsurprising since she pushed identity politics for gain when she claimed to be American Indian) Neither does Maj. Tulsi Gabbard push identity politics, or used her status for any kind of leverage: in fact, she has been punished by the DNC, media and moderators for her principled stance. Incidentally, the media has "vanished" her now albeit she's not yet vanquished, a woman of color, the first combat veteran to ever run, still standing (invisibly) in the race. I am not interested in electing a person who looks like me; rather, I will vote for the person who thinks more like me. I was turned off by Biden's pandering to his public, assuring them that he will bring in a woman as his V.P. rather than the best candidate, who may or may not be a woman, or who might have been a gay man.
Pat Boice (Idaho Falls, ID)
The only benefit from this debate was a boost in confidence that Biden is the right choice - at least compared to Bernie. Biden came across as calm and presidential, with better leadership qualities. I can see him - and his wife - in the White House. Bernie has changed the conversation in America regarding health care, inequality, poverty, and he gets credit for that. However, he doesn't have the qualities to be President. He's much better at making his case for change. Since Biden has pledged to choose a woman for VP I hope he doesn't choose a Senator. We can't lose any Senators. There are plenty of talented, capable women to choose from.
Barb Crook (MA)
@Pat Boice I dare say we will gain Democratic senators in the election. Nothing much has changed from 2018 except that Trump has been further exposed as a dangerous, ineffective leader, who is now endangering people's lives. Biden needs Elizabeth Warren, and I, for one, am willing to give up my senator, of whom I am very I'm proud, to see her ascend to the White House. Enough sacrifices.
rf (Las Cruces,NM)
@Pat Boice Although if he chooses Harris, there will certainly be another democrat in California.
Pat Boice (Idaho Falls, ID)
@Barb Crook - Elizabeth Warren would be great, but if we lose her Senate seat wouldn't she be equally as good, maybe better, as Secy of Treasury? I really hope he doesn't pick Klobuchar.
CH (Indianapolis, Indiana)
It's clear that Biden will be the nominee. That is what both the party establishment and primary voters have wanted from the start of this campaign. He has been seen as the candidate best able to beat Trump. His lackluster campaign just delayed the inevitable. In the debate, Biden took credit for the surge in primary voter turnout that favored him, but I think Trump should be given more credit. It is the same anti-Trump surge that occurred in 2018, when Biden wasn't on the ballot. Even though Biden's performance was solid, to me he looked really uncomfortable. He has never held an executive position with the weight of responsibility on him. In his decades in the Senate, his fellow Democratic senators never chose him as majority or minority leader. It is so much easier to lay out what you would do in a crisis on a debate stage than to be president with the heavy burden of handling it, knowing that whatever the president does, people will die and life will be disrupted. I think Bernie would be able to put his emotions aside to handle the COVID-19 outbreak, and our systemic problems, better than Biden. But, either would do far better than Trump has done.
Kathleen (Michigan)
Thank God for a debate/Q&A that wasn't a sound bite/food fight! It was refreshing to hear coherent discussion. The viewers won. It helped to have only two and no audience. I'm wondering if Trump will pass on the debates given that there is no audience. From his recent performances at the CDC, the oval office, and even the presser, it's clear that when he's not doing a rally he is pretty much incoherent. He goes off track and interjects weird bits like "two big words". Not that he's coherent in his rallies, but that's not the purpose. Wonder if he'll have Nikki Haley as his VP. My only complaint about the debate was that it could have been more about Trump.
TrumpsGOPsucks (Washington State)
@Kathleen There is nothing to debate about Trump, and it would be wrong to give him any attention at all. We needed to hear the 2 candidates left in the race for the Democratic nomination discuss their proposals and policies rather than listen to them beat down Trump one more time.
She (Miami,FL)
@Kathleen He would definitely do better with the feisty but superficially charming Nikki Haley, than the unlikable, threatening Liz Cheney.
Joe (Lansing)
Bernie wanted to talk about votes taken 20-30 years ago. Until Biden reminded everyone of Bernie's dismal record on gun control. Bernie's all-or-nothing attitude also came through, between the lines. He's spent decades in Congress and still doesn't know how the legislative progress. Nor does he realize that politics is the art of the possible, that compromises are made of power relationships between the parties (you accept half measures until you can circle back and improve). In sum, he doesn't know how to get things done.
Mel (NY)
@Joe That's the story-- but Sanders has gotten plenty done. He's done it with amendments and other ways minority voices get things done. The question is not what got done but was it the right thing to get done? Biden's record matters very much-- many of the things he got done-- such as the Iraq war and the 1994 crime bill which he authored-- have caused harm.
bu (DC)
@Joe Well stated! Thanks. Bernie is lambasting the obvious, but has achieved zero compared to his fervor to disrupt and revolutionize.
Cynthia Stewart (Topeka, Kansas)
@bu Let's stop spewing blatantly false talking points. This one about Bernie “achieved zero” has long been discredited. It's a fiction. The overhaul of the VA system, giving veterans more rights, limiting Trump's war-making powers, etc. He's also co-sponsored lots of bills and added scores of amendments to legislation. He's also voted the right way, time after time. That matters!
Don (NY)
Can we agree that it was WAY better without the audience? Without the Roman gladiator blood sport nonsense, which televised debates have become? Can we please, please keep it that way, so we don’t rely on the applause-o-meter to decide who makes the better policy points?
Just Thinkin’ (Texas)
You can see how backwards are so many here in Texas when you look at Mimi Swartz' comment. Bernie was not "ideological" when he discussed the reasons why we have so much inequality and such an ill-prepared medical system. He was being analytical, and he was pointing to the needed recourse. Texas has among the worst public education and health care in the US. Mimi should reflect on what that means for so many of our fellow Texas -- and then present the solution and scream until you are heard and listened to.
Andrew (Boston)
@Just Thinkin’ Well, you may be right about the poor state of Texas education. But Bernie is nothing but an ideologue. Every ideology is just that, an analysis and a proposed solution Just because one happens to agree with it, does not make it any less an ideology. What we need now is a politician. Someone who can build coalitions and get things done.
Just Thinkin’ (Texas)
@Andrew You say, "Every ideology is just that, an analysis and a proposed solution." I'm not sure what you are getting at. But before we build a coalition and get things done, you need an analysis and a proposed solution. And that is what Sanders is proposing, as opposed to waiting for a crisis and then groping to end the crisis and not preparing for, and hopefully preventing, the next one. By understanding how we got into the mess we are in we might best be able to figure out what needs change. Then you need to spread that understanding, and with many in agreement create that coalition you speak of and get the legislation passed. Biden just says we need to get back to where we were before Trump. But that left us vulnerable, and was not even what Obama had hoped for. If Obama were running again I doubt that he would say everything was just fine when he left office. He would say we need to continue the work, and some of that requires structural change -- of the tax system, of money in politics, of complacency about global warming.
walts (San Ramon, CA)
@Andrew The Almanac of American Politics called Sen. Bernie Sanders a “practical” and “successful legislator.” In the House, he was dubbed the “amendment king” for passing more roll-call amendments than any other member. “He accomplishes this on the one hand by being relentlessly active and on the other by using his status as an independent to form left-right coalitions,” The above is from the senate.gov website. Sounds like someone who is passionate yet pragmatic. Or a politician who knows how to build coalitions and get things done.
Damage Limitation (Berlin Germany)
During this very long campaign, people have had a chance to zoom in on the qualities of each candidate. You can find fault with everyone of them, I certainly did. A one-man-show is not for me, but that is the nature of a presidential system. Once in power though, much depends on the qualities of the secretaries of state and of the kind of people elected to Congress. So the sooner this one-man show ends, the better for the Democrats who by nature are team-players and prefer co-operation to a volatile leadership (of the Fidel Castro/Donald Trump type). The sooner they display all of their talents, the better.
Sean (Greenwich)
Mimi Swartz claims that Bernie Sanders' "arguments are sounding tired because he so rarely expands on them in fresh ways..." Perhaps that's because his arguments are founded on basic truths that our nation has yet to acknowledge, let alone solve. It might sound repetitive to state that Americans working a 40-hour work week deserve to receive a living wage; but to low-income Americans, it's a basic truth. It may seem "tired" to point out that our for-profit healthcare system is immoral, unfair, and ruinous to most American families; but that is a basic inequality that needs to be fixed, and Sanders won't rest until he does. Senator Sanders' attacks on the inequities of American life my seem "tired" to those who don't care about them, but for those who want to reform America and aid poor families, they are not tired.
Andrew (Boston)
@Sean I deeply care about the same things you do. And I find Bernie extremely tiresome. Why? Because he is more concerned about being right than he is about getting things done. Also, a person whose ideas do not evolve are just believers. The truth is always more grey than people of faith would have it. And that is true whether your religion is based on the supernatural or a secular ideology.
Robbie J. (Miami Florida)
@Sean You are right. Your comment should be a Times pick.
spc (California)
@Sean I'm an old "lefty" same age as Bernie. Objectively, I favor almost all of of Bernie's proposals; however, whenever I've seen him in debates and on the news I feel like I'm being lectured to by an angry finger-pointing man addressing me as an "unwoke" miscreant. I was a union leader in a public agency for 17 years. During that time I attended our major convention n Vice President as the keynote speaker. His speech was what you would expect addressing a union activist audience, and it was a good one. However, what came across to me was a real person who could relate personally to this audience, a person who is basically decent, even if his politics were less progressive than I would have liked. It wasn't until yesterday that I got so see a somewhat similar person coming from Bernie Sanders. However, the fact that he is not a registered Democrat, the fact that his democratic socialism will be confounding and confusing to the average voter (and Trump will make sure that Bernie is characterized as a wild-eyed communist agitator) and the fact that his astoundingly costly proposals make it more difficult for the average voter to support them will make it very difficult to defeat Trump, My heart may belong to Bernie but my head tells me to vote for Biden, faults and all, if he becomes the nominee. Four more years of Trump will be the end of the United States as a constitutional democratic republic.
Steve (New York)
Mr. McCarthy is wrong. It isn't that the Biden of 20-30 years ago didn't live up to progressive standards of today; it's that he didn't even live up to progressive standards of 20-30 years ago. Many people at that time felt he didn't give Anita Hill's accusations against Clarence Thomas a fair hearing and he voted for an Iraq war that many people who weren't even progressives were skeptical about the reasons for fighting for it. I thought that Biden's answer that what's happening in Italy proves a Medicare for All plan doesn't help is akin to saying that Israel has now gone through 3 elections in the past year and still doesn't yet have a government shows that democracy doesn't work.
Simon Sez (Maryland)
No one will remember this debate. In fact, very few people even watched it including my husband and I who are political junkies. Tomorrow Biden will win the majority of delegates. He will go on to win the nomination. Our job now is to help him defeat Trump and take back the Congress.
Muffy (Philadelphia)
@Simon Sez If you didn’t watch the debate, how can you say it wasn’t memorable? This was a rare opportunity to see the top two candidates communicate in a well-moderated discussion without the noise and distraction of an audience and a big group of candidates shouting to be heard. One can hardly be a “political junkie” and have consciously chosen to skip this last chance to see the front-runners thoroughly state their opinions and point out their differences. But if you have already decided Biden’s nomination is a done deal and Bernie cannot even influence the party’s platform, I guess your time was better spent elsewhere. Oh well.
MLE53 (NJ)
I thought Biden did a good job in the debate. He came across presidential. Sanders did okay to me, but he seems to be a one-note candidate. He may have some good points, but he never seems presidential to me. Of course, for least presidential trump, is hands down the winner. I sense Biden is choosing a woman to appeal to certain voters. As a woman, I was not overwhelmed by any of the woman on the stage. Klobuchar was the woman I would most likely support for VP. I think Warren would serve us better as a senator or in a Cabinet post. All the candidates, the women and the men, offer more, individually, than any of trump’s “chosen”. I think Cory Booker would have been my first choice for VP. Biden, with all his faults, is what we need right now. I am comforted by his ability to convey understanding of what we all are going through right now. I believe he will choose extremely qualified people to help restore our institutions and set us on the right course for a strong future.
She (Miami,FL)
@MLE53 I concur with you that the women on the stage were underwhelming--for me, also, since Tulsi Gabbard was booted off the stage by rule changing against her, etc. Like you, found Cory Booker a viable choice, as well as Mayor Pete. Biden should leave much needed senators in their place. He should look further afield--perhaps Sally Yates?
Henry Dickerson (Clifton Forge,VA)
My thoughts this morning are on the unfolding heath crisis and on the possible destruction of our economy. Therefore, I'm looking for leadership rather than structural change. As I watched the debate last night, I saw Biden as the only choice.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
@Henry Dickerson The present pandemic is a dry run for the disasters we will face over the next decade. Many of us will die and many more will be hard hit economically. We are unprepared for any of it and without the structural changes Sanders is calling for, we will remain so at our peril.
wysiwyg (USA)
The tit-for-tat accusations about votes that occurred decades ago marred what otherwise was a spirited and civil debate. Though not a big fan of "Uncle Joe" and a former supporter of "Tio Bernie" what distinguished last night's debate was the focus on how things need to get done in the current environment and how to get both Independent and "never-Trumpers" to the voting booth. As time wears on, it's clear that the Democratic Party is the only choice for combating the reactionary and destructive path that 45 has initiated and implemented over the past 3 years. It matters not how one or the other voted on the Iraq War. The only thing that was proven during that debacle was that belief in the propaganda leading to it was the real issue. Railing against the past is not the key to where our democracy must head to be preserved. Likely, the electorate must be convinced that an immediate overhaul of our institutions must be done a step at a time. For that reason, the experience Biden has had with both domestic policy and foreign relations in his role in the Obama administration will probably be the linchpin to his ultimate success in November. With 45 being underwater in terms of his approval rating throughout his tenure, it is clear that massive turnout (despite suppression attempts and gerrymandering by the GOP) will be key for overturning the catastrophe of the past 3+ years of 45 and his toadies in the Senate. VOTE BLUE up and down the ballot on November 3rd!
Andrew (Boston)
@wysiwyg Thanks. This is my sentiment exactly.
John (Hartford)
As all the pundits here agree (even the Biden antis) Biden won hands down. Sanders did his usual telling us what we all know act (but without the usual shouting) but he didn't lay a glove on Biden basically. Biden was selling competence, experience and rationality and he was successful. It's over.
Bret (Chicago)
@John Biden was selling a return to the band aid economy—and in the sense that the pundits paint that as “normal” and “competence” then yes he won. But in the world in which you are looking for someone to fight the disease and help cure the society, Sanders won hands down. I suppose it’s all relative to what you are looking for.
Mike R (Syracuse, NY)
@John Biden's bar was set down at his laces. It's the first debate since he became the frontrunner and his only job was to prove to people that he's not senile. Bernie, having not made people doubt his mind for the last several weeks, was being judged in an entirely different way.
OldBoatMan (Rochester, MN)
The Bernie Sanders I saw last night is the same Bernie I saw for the first time at Waterloo, Iowa on January 31, 2016, asking the same questions. Hillary Clinton did not have the answers in 2016 and Joe Biden does not the answers in 2020. I'm a Democrat, a Bernie Sanders Democrat. I voted for my party's nominee in 2016. I'll vote for my party's nominee in 2020. I'm still hoping for answers to Bernie's persistent questions.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@OldBoatMan ....Sanders questions can only be addressed if the Democrats win lots of down ballot races. That means numbers of moderate Democrats need to win in many of the more conservative districts. Sanders and his supporters never seem to acknowledge this fact. It is one thing to rigidly cling to an ideology and quite another to understand what needs to be done to actually accomplish those goals.
Max Robe (Charlotte, NC)
@W.A. Spitzer Except most of those people would not vote for the necessary measures--because of their ideology. Look how Rahm Emmanuel's choices to run conservative Dems hobbled the ACA.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Max Robe ....You make a point. But if you can't get elected in the first place it doesn't matter how you vote. I would prefer some progress now and more progress later to no progress at all.
JustinC (Staunton, VA)
Sanders attempted to play the "leadership" card on several occasions, based solely on his years of radical ideas, and Biden missed the opportunity to hit that softball out of the park. Leadership is not simply about having different or radical ideas, but also about achieving results, and the Sanders record in Congress falls far short of Biden in that category.
Sean (Greenwich)
@JustinC There is absolutely nothing "radical" about implementing single-payer healthcare, the type of healthcare that provides far better outcomes for far more people at far lower cost for virtually every developed nation on earth compared with our obscene and ruinous for-profit healthcare system. It is a proposal that would bring America into the present-day developed world. Absolutely nothing "radical" about that.
DLH (North AL)
@JustinC Bernie Sanders is very proud of the fact that he has voted "against" almost every piece of legislation he mentions. It's easy to be against everything and to vote "No". Leadership requires "Yes" votes to get things done even though it requires a compromise. Bernie has let perfect be the enemy of progress. That's why he's got no record of accomplishment.
Deanna (NY)
@DLH Not true. Read the article in today’s Times about whether America was ready for Bernie. It presents a man who compromises when he needs to.
617to416 (Ontario via Massachusetts)
Halfway through the debate I decided to put my hearing aids in so I could actually follow what they were saying. Not sure it made much difference, but it made me feel a tighter bond with the candidates.
Maggie (NC)
While I agree with most of what Bernie wants to do, he’s not inspired faith in his ability to accomplish his agenda at all, much less without causing chaos. Biden coherently represented the old guard Democratic Party which has been a self-serving neo-liberal disaster, but I’ll take them any day over what we have now. I just hope the woman Biden chooses will be the very competent and experienced Elizabeth Warren, and that Bernie will give his full and enthusiastic blessing in the hopes of seeing some of his and Warren’s mutual policy plans incorporated in Biden’s agenda. While she tanked in the primaries, I believe there were some exit polls that showed her to be the most popular second choice. With Bernie’s help she could get out progressives.
Sean (Greenwich)
@Maggie States around the country have now implemented a minimum wage of $15 per hour. That is entirely due to Senator Sanders' fighting like heck for that. States around the country are beginning to implement zero-tuition plans for public universities. That is entirely due to Senator Sanders' fighting like heck for it. Sometimes one has to fight and fight and fight. That's what Senator Sanders does. And that is something that Biden never has and never wil.
bruno M (CA, NY)
@Maggie Warren for VP? insane idea! if she gives up her senate seat the republican Governor in Massachusetts will appoint a republican senator: Bye Bye to Democratic chance to regain control of the senate. THINK you all who favors Warren for VP
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Sean ..."Sometimes one has to fight and fight and fight."...But that doesn't make someone Presidential material. To successfully govern in a democracy you have to know how to negotiate and compromise. My way or the highway only works in authoritarian countries.
Vercingetorix (Paris)
By any measure (number of beds ,number of respirators, number of physicians),the medical system in northern Italy is better than in the States ,on average.The number of cases in the States is totally unknown until a program of extensive testing is up and running (probably not this month).The States are a few weeks behind Italy, but there is a strong possibility that the situation will become much ,much worse than in Italy in the near future. Biden cheap shot will be forgotten then .
John (Hartford)
@Vercingetorix Actually it's not. The US system is outstanding in terms of its ACTUAL resources. It should be because we're spending twice as much on it as everyone else! The problem is access to it and its cost, not size and resources. And it was a very effective rejoinder.
Kathleen (Michigan)
@Vercingetorix I think the point was that having single payer does not help in a crisis like this one. The important point is whether we will have more or fewer hospitals beds, doctors, nurses, ventilators under single payer. Some of these countries have had underfunded health care systems that are not in great shape under conservative leadership, like the UK. The point about putting systems in place that are more or less "permanent" was a good one.
Vercingetorix (Paris)
@John According to the World Bank: Italy has 4.1 physician per 1000 United States: 2.6 physician According to the OECD: Italy has 3.2 hospital beds per 1000 United States:2.8 France has 6 and it is not nearly enough ,South Korea has 12.3 Cost is not the same as quality and quantity.On average Europeans are much healthier and live longer.
David Wallance (Brooklyn)
Both Biden and Sanders failed on the question asked by Dana Bash early in last night's debate: do you support a national quarantine? Both candidates ducked the question and pivoted to other coronavirus policy prescriptions. We know that the single most effective thing we as individuals can do to slow the spread of coronavirus is to isolate ourselves from social contact (as my family, friends and I are doing). Each day this urgent step is delayed allows the exponential curve of disease spread to steepen, bringing us closer to the hellish situation in Italy. Both candidates had a teachable moment last night and they flubbed it. Were they afraid that the American public would not be able to handle an uncomfortable truth?
Just Thinkin’ (Texas)
Besides the "show" we might look at the content of the debate. Biden was misleading at best about Italy and its health care system. Italy does have a M4A type system, but under funds it. We would do much better. And its system is working. Italy's problems with the coronavirus include: 1) Italy’s current national health service remains under-funded. 2) Italy has an exceptional old population. 3) The virus was probably spreading in Italy long before it was detected. And it is now doing the best that can be expected under the circumstances. Sander's point about his consistency in supporting progressive positions is important. We do need a leader, not for a few months, but for years. And we hope the Coronavirus problem will be mostly behind us before a new president is sworn in in early 2021. We need someone leading us beyond our inequalities, beyond the power of the wealthy to control government levers, and beyond complacent actions on global warming. Biden is a get-along guy -- he's nice at a time when we need someone firm in their understanding and willing to stand up for what is right; not someone willing to compromise away in order to get along.
MLE53 (NJ)
@Just Thinkin’ Compromise is how things get done in Washington, isn’t it? Perhaps Sanders and Warren need to understand that. I don’t enjoy people who command me to do something. I work much better when I am offered honey instead of flies.
Sean (Greenwich)
@MLE53 That's not how Republicans operate. They ram through every bill they put forward. And how did compromise work for the Democrats with the ACA? They compromised the bill down to too small subsidies which left too many in the middle class vulnerable to big increases in premiums and rising deductibles. And what did the Democrats get for their "compromise"? Not a single Republican vote. Bernie Sanders understands that you fight for what is right, and you don't compromise/abandon away your principles. You fight for them, and for the American people.
Michael Palma (Bellows Falls, Vermont)
@Sean True, the watering down of the bill failed to get a single Republican vote, but it did get the votes of conservative Democrats that were needed to get it passed. The ACA as it was enacted is infinitely preferable to the nothing that we would otherwise have instead.
Generous Lover (San Pedro)
What the democrats don't seem to understand is the average person voting in the general election is entirely different from the average democratic primary voter. The perceived qualities of a candidate (wit, charisma, confidence) matter far more to the general election voter than to the average democratic primary voter. But most important in today's America, is a candidate's perceived level of intimacy with institutions that the average American sees as corrupt and/or incompetent. This is going to do determine how honest a candidate will seem to the average general election voter and that perceived level of honesty will, more than any other factor, determine who they will vote for.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
What a wide variety of political statements, perhaps to gain the upper hand, but also depicting the inadequacies, inequalities and injustices in this capitalistic system. We already saw what drives the stock market (fear and greed), and even more so with the current coronavirus crisis. Shouldn't we find strength in unity, by amalgamating some of these ideas, make it a needed front to stop a lying demagogue from perpetuating himself in the presidency, and go on destroying what we value most, 'trust' in our democratic institutions?
MIchael S. (Kingston, NY)
I’ve supported Bernie, but the fact is that voters are selecting Biden. Since both candidates did reasonably well in their debate, it looks like Biden will continue to win on electibility, while Bernie’s door prize will be winning on ideology. Ideology matters, and Bernie has pushed Biden further left on several issues. If Biden beats Trump, my hope is that he can be effective at healing at least some of the bitterness dividing the country. He and his team will also need to rebuild government agencies hollowed out and demoralized by 4 years of ineptitude, rebuild alliances with our allies, restore faith in government competence, not to mention begin to take on the great challenges of our time. Biden could serve as a valuable, transitional figure for our Republic. Not the great, transformative leader Bernie could have been, but one who sets the stage for such a leader in years to come.
MLE53 (NJ)
@MIchael S. I have never seen Sanders as a leader. I do not think I am alone.
Dadof2 (NJ)
Unlike the columnists, I thought Bernie was the one off last night. He called the current pandemic "Ebola" repeatedly, and claimed that Bush '43 bailed out GM when it was Obama. Factually, Bernie is RIGHT about progress made in China and in Cuba. Under the (pseudo)-Communist regime, just 25 years ago "Made in China" was exotic, now it's ubiquitous and China is now the 3rd largest economic power on Earth after the EU and the US (with a lot of help from Reagan's destruction of manufacturing to destroy the unions which he hated). Cuba's strides in literacy and health care are impressive for what is still essentially a 3rd world nation. Infant mortality is the same or better than the US. But, tactically, Bernie's harping on this is a calamitous disaster and Joe is right to distance himself from it. It alone, fair or unfair, makes it nearly impossible for Bernie to beat Trump. Bernie's main point that income inequality is a key to problems isn't wrong, but where Bernie is wrong is that it is not the only key. Like Republicans for whom corporate tax cuts and subsidies, deregulation, and radical reactionary anti-Constitutionalist judges are the answer to EVERYTHING, Bernie's only got one tool in his tool box. Sure, his hammer can hammer down a lot of nails, but not every problem we face is a nail. But "Angry Bernie" isn't angry, he's just a typically passionate transplanted New Yorker, familiar to everyone from this area. Still, it was Joe's night and Bernie knew it.
TopOfTheHill (Brooklyn)
@Dadof2 Bush ‘43 signed the GM bailout in December 2008, one month before Obama was sworn into office. Obama oversaw the implementation of the bailout after he took office, but it was GW who signed the legislation to bail out GM.
Steve (New York)
@Dadof2 Biden couldn't even remember the word "Ebola"
MLE53 (NJ)
@Dadof2 Thank you. I completely agree.
Aurace Rengifo (Miami Beach, Fl.)
I started watching the debate and noticed Biden with low energy. He followed the time limit to the point of stopping talking in the middle of a sentence. But then he caught up being more assertive and projecting his lead. Sanders did not commit to run with a woman and did not make the case for his healthcare proposal. He does not have its numbers aligned. At the end of the debate, Biden was ahead and Sanders will follow up on campaigning for Biden. Which does not guarantee voters transfer.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
@Aurace Rengifo Sanders has already committed to a female running mate. The emphasis here is misplaced.
ChristineMcM (Massachusetts)
I'm with Nicole Hemmer when she writes, "The smartest move Biden made in the debate — other than committing to a female running mate — was tying revolution to disruption." While I'm sure he had a lot of practice sessions with his new team (new campaign manager, new people, etc., it's amazing what the infusion of new money can do), he pulled off what he had to. I've noticed that Biden tends to get rattled on a debate stage of many people--likely due to a lifelong battle with stuttering. Last night's performance, less a debate than a political argument between two old friends, seemed better suited to allowing Biden to feel more relaxed. Bernie was, well Bernie, and often that worked but in the end, he wasn't able to tailor his arguments to the specific unparalled crisis facing our nation.
MLE53 (NJ)
@ChristineMcM Sanders has one debate in him. That is not a formula for a successful presidency. Remember “the wall”, a campaign strategy that led to a huge failed presidency. Of course Sanders is an intelligent, qualified man and trump is not. But I still do not want a one-note candidate as my president.
MIMA (heartsny)
Winners? The people of the United States are winners with both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. These men are both determined to get Donald Trump out of the White House! Of course Biden and Sanders have their differences. But what did we see on the stage last night? Care, intelligence, hard workers, trust, leadership qualities, service to their country, loyalty to the integrity of the United States. We’re ready to go to the polls and make Biden and Sanders’ pleas come true. Get Donald Trump out of the White House.
spc (California)
@MIMA The Bernie Sanders that I saw last night wasn't the angry, finger-pointing screamer lecturing the "unwoke" as if they were miscreants. Bernie's ideas aren't politically feasible because they are aspirational & not presented as relevant to those "ordinary" Americans. Example: people are afraid of Medicare for All because they don't want to lose their private insurance. It is not made clear to the "unwoke" that health insurance is not health care , that health insurance, with high premiums, high deductibles, high copays, is a barrier to healthcare. If I were Bernie, or even Joe Biden I would focus on a few things which are easily understandable and would have widespread appeal to most Americans. Like Medicare negotiation for prescription drug prices as VA does (with much lower prices than on-VA). Focus on insulin. Millions of Americans are diabetics and more will become so as our population ages. Everybody knows that the price of insulin, which diabetics literally need to stay alive, has skyrocketed in recent years due to the greed of the drug companies. When drug companies talk about their R& D costs, remind people that most of the startup costs come from government sponsored research at agencies like National Institutes of Health. If an amateur like me can think of this I'm sure the professionals can as well. In fact I read that Trump wants to focus on insulin as part of his supposed efforts to lower the price of prescription drugs.
AACNY (New York)
Biden does best in a quiet environment when he's not surrounded by young people speaking quickly. Even then, he kept mixing up the virus names and clearly has difficulty with word recall.
Butterfly (NYC)
@AACNY Have you confused Sanders with Biden? It was Sanders who repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as Ebola. Did you miss that or choosing to blame Biden for Sanders mistakes? Both Trump and Putin want Sanders to be the nominee. Why do you think that is?
John (Boston)
This debate and who won it is meaningless. Biden will be the nominee! All that the debate and this subsequent coverage and comments here do is undercut his strength in the general election. It does not matter how great Sanders was or is or how he beat Biden senseless in the debate.
Corbin (Minneapolis)
@John It will matter if Biden loses. I suppose the media will find a way to blame that on Bernie too.
Daphne (East Coast)
Considering Trump's recent public performances, e.g. 3/13 press conference, I think Biden will be the picture of articulate lucidity in comparison.
Dobbys sock (Ca.)
@Daphne That's quite the low bar to set. Where do you suppose Joe was going with his Jack the Ripper analogy last night? Lol...lucidity? That isn't Joe's strong point is it.
Frank Roseavelt (New Jersey)
We'll learn a lot about Bernie Sanders over the next 48 hours. He will almost certainly lose in Tuesday's primary elections in critically important states. He should swallow his pride and make the difficult decision to stand down at that point - he'll have no realistic path, and it will take the need for more primaries, more uncertainty and more drama off the table. I like Bernie - he's thoughtful and sincere and he's certainly a strong campaigner; if it were 2008 I think he'd have a real good chance to be President. In the strong recovery from 2010-2019, his candidacy did not make as much sense; in the current crisis of 2020, I can't see enough voters supporting massive change when we are already facing such uncertainty. Bernie has added much to the national debate and I hope he will continue to make himself an important voice by supporting Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. Doing anything else from this point forward really only helps Trump.
Steve (New York)
@Frank Roseavelt The problem is that each time Biden is asked how he will gain the support of Sanders' supporters, his only answer is that they have to unite to defeat Trump. That message didn't work in 2016 and it's questionable that it will work now. At the least he should have said that he'd have a female Sanders supporter as his VP nominee. If he chooses an a Klobuchar or a Harris, does anybody think Sanders supporters are going to rush to support the ticket.
Larry R (Burlington VT)
@Steve every voter who fails to support the nominee of the Democratic party is a voter who will aid and abet the second term for Trump. That's it.
george (Iowa)
@Steve Joe talks about uniting the country, crossing the aisle to get things done. The first uniting he should do is uniting the Democratic Party. If he is willing to cross the aisle to Republicans he must be willing to cross the divide of our party. If he shows himself capable of embracing a broad coalition of Democratic thinking he will be capable of winning. A lot of polls( I know, polls) show a high percentage of Democratic voters support the message of Bernie/Warren they just don't like the messengers. So Joe embrace all of US only then can you win.
avrds (montana)
I missed Elizabeth Warren in this debate. Sanders is so strong on what the issues are, but Warren could always be counted on having a plan to address them. Together on the stage they paint a true picture of what is facing this nation. A vision a country that serves only a handful of people at the top, at the expense of the rest of us. Biden was Biden. Trust me, it'll be fine, he implied. Jim Clyburn was trying to cancel the debate, which does not say much about his faith in Biden's abilities. So it was reassuring that Biden was able to finally complete sentences and rise to the occasion of two hours under the spotlight. I guess this is the most we have come to expect in a president.
Butterfly (NYC)
@avrds It's more than we have now in a President. Trump can't even coherently follow a teleprompter. He's back to blaming Hillary again for dome bizarre reason. I guess his 35% cult followers eat it up when he rants against her. Either that or he's forgotten she's not running against him in 2020. My guess is both reasons are tied.
Leabharlannai (US)
If Bernie Sanders is the voice in the wilderness crying out for justice for so many years, Biden is not the one for whom he has prepared the path. Bernie may never be president but it is not Biden is going to save us. Is it AOC in four or eight years? And with climate change bearing down hard and real action demanded, will that be soon enough to finally get the leader we need?
Butterfly (NYC)
@Leabharlannai We'll worry about that in 4, 8, 12 , or 16 tears from now. First things first. GET RID OF TRUMP.
Richard From Massachusetts (Massachustts)
Bernie Sander dominated the debate and Biden showed how easily he could be addled by a candidate with a different message than that of the plutocracy. If Bernie can rattle Biden like that can you imagine what Trump the mendacious will do to him. It's time to Nominate Bernie Sanders and institute Medicare for All. If this pandemic proves nothing else it proves that we need single payer universal health care like all the other Western Democracies have. It is also the time for democratic socialism in the American Republic. As far as I am concerned it is still "Never Trump" "Never Biden" "Reign In Capitalism &break The Plutocracy"
Old Voter (USA)
@Richard From Massachusetts Italy has single payer...and what about Sanders’ illogical vote against Russian sanctions in 2015?
dairubo (MN & Taiwan)
Through out the two highest and two lowest scores for each candidate (because the scoring is so subjective and easily subject to attempted manipulation of the outcome) and Sanders's score is 7+ and Biden's score is 7-; Sanders wins the debate.
Nial McCabe (Morris County, NJ)
I respect Bernie for his contribution to the progressive agenda. In the long run it will help us all. And the clear respect that both of these men have for each other is refreshing and heartening. But I've been a fan of Joe for years and I thought he had a strong performance here....when it really mattered. That's the thing about Joe that I have always noticed: he really does rise to the occasion when it truly matters. I know some progressives are worried about he'll deal with Trump in a debate. But I'm not worried. Even under mild pressure, Trump gets flustered, flat-footed and off-balance, even when he gets a moderately challenging press question. And even when he has assembled his usual cadre of "yes-men" in the background. When Yamiche Alcindor asked him why he didn't take any responsibility for the failed response to the COVID-19 outbreak, all he could say was that her question was "nasty". He won't be able to do that in a presidential debate. Biden is a nice guy who can cheerfully use facts and figures as his lethal weapon. He'll eviscerate Trump in a debate.
sharon (worcester county, ma)
@Nial McCabe There will be no debate. trump's handlers know it would be an unmitigated disaster to spend three to four hours off script. he can't put a cohesive sentence together let alone 4 hours worth. Sanders or Biden, whoever wins, should debate an empty chair or better yet and empty suit. Both represent trump to a T. It boggles the mind that voters will support trump, a candidate whose team is too frightened to allow him to debate! For many Americans the ability to think rationally has left the building.
spc (California)
@Nial McCabe There will be no debate. Trump is unhinged and his handlers can't take the chance that he will say or do something way beyond outrageous, especially if we are still dealing with effects from corona virus, falling stock market, economic recession. Or some other disaster which Trump might use under the national emergency declaration to further expand his powers, maybe even martial law. There is an amazing and somewhat frightening article in the January 2019 issue of the Atlantic Monthly magazine which deals with precisely what the president can do with emergency powers. www.theatlantic.com.magazine.2019/01.presidential emergency
Ockham9 (Norman, OK)
So this what it has come to? Joe Biden just has to prove that he can put words together to make a coherent sentence, doesn’t drool on himself, and isn’t Donald Trump, and that qualifies him as presidential? Look, I get that we need to replace Trump and most importantly return stability to the country, but we can do that and vigorously address climate change, make healthcare a right, reduce income and wealth inequality, and solve the college unaffordability crisis at the same time. There is nothing incompatible with a progressive agenda and a functional, stable, intelligent, and caring government and society. Americans can reach a little higher than what Biden is proposing!
Meg (AZ)
@Ockham9 Have you even been to Biden's website? Bernie keeps pretending this is all new to him because he has been lying to his base that Biden (and all the other candidates) are for the status quo. But their agendas have been very progressive. Bernie seems to think his only way he can win is to lie and pretend he is the only option. Maybe he is afraid if his base goes to Biden's website they will see that Biden is the better option, so he pretends there is nothing there.
Ockham9 (Norman, OK)
@Meg I have been to Biden’s website, and while there are some good proposals there, it could go much farther. His higher ed plan focuses heavily on community college (as did Obama’s); it would be much better to attack the fundamental reason why college costs too much, the decision over the past 40 years to reduce state support for HE. His healthcare plan focuses heavily on a public option, and negotiating prices and deductibles down. We saw that in Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge, and at the first opposition from insurance and healthcare corporations, those pledges were scrapped. I have seen nothing on the Biden website to indicate the tax side of government: how will he reduce income and wealth inequality without a significant increase in marginal rates and a wealth tax that recaptures accrued wealth of 40 years of unjust tax policy? And as far as climate change is concerned, a plan for 2050 is not sufficient: most climate scientists urge a much more ambitious reduction than a 30-year plan. That said, I am not a Sanders acolyte. He clearly has one club in his bag. But reading the NYT pundits’ comments about Biden leaves me underwhelmed: “his performance should reassure Democrats who worried about his mental acuity”; “The huge question was whether Biden would stumble, fall into one of those oh-whoops-sorry moments. And he didn’t!” That’s a pretty low bar. I am disappointed that Democrats can’t seem to support a strong, visionary progressive that also restores stability.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Ockham9.... "There is nothing incompatible with a progressive agenda and a functional, stable, intelligent, and caring government".....Nothing except a Republican Senate and the possibility of losing the House with Sanders at the head of the ticket.
Hugh Massengill (Eugene Oregon)
Irenic? I love the word, though I have never seen it in print before. May the universe see the future as powered by the energy of irenic boldness. To unify differing sects in the land of peace and rationalism... Hugh
Gene W. (Richland)
@Hugh Massengill Me too! I had to look it up, it's a perfect word for these times and the coming election.
T. Clark (Frankfurt, Germany)
The US has always been a terribly flawed country measured by its self-proclaimed image, but it used to be able to embrace major structural change (albeit kicking and screaming) when that was existentially necessary. Today, America is as self-absorbed as Trump and the GOP and as sclerotic as the Democratic mainstream and its candidate. That does not bode well for the future.
Tom (St.Paul)
I like Biden, but I think Sanders is MORE electable in November against Trump. Why ? Trade, Social Security and Healthcare. We care in a populist era and the REAL populist will defeat a fake populist every time. Sanders is FDR 2.0.
Andrew Hirsch (Vashon, WA)
@Tom I would say Sanders would have proven to be George McGovern 2.0. That said, it doesn't look like we'll find out, unless something weird happens and Sanders is nominated.
C (R)
@Andrew Hirsch 1. 1972 was a very different time. A time when high healthcare costs, job outsourcing, and endless Middle East intervention wasn't a problem. 2. If you want to make comparisons to previous elections, then Biden is Hillary 2.0. The dynamics of this election is the same as 2016 with one of the main differences is that Trump is an incumbent. Trump can just use the same playbook back then by targeting Biden's voting record and Hunter Biden's dealings in foreign companies. Whether you believe it's fine or not, you can't deny the appearance of corruption in Hunter's dealings with Ukraine and China.
Feldman (Portland)
@Tom Absolutely correct. Bernie is very real, very intelligent. Trump is a disgusting con-man fake. A weak commercial media ham.
B Sharp (Cincinnati)
I watched about one hour of the debate, VP Joe Biden surprised me, he looked trim, focussed and smiled under attacks from Senator Bernie Sanders. While Biden was speaking Sanders was having odd facial expressions as if He was going to pass out. Mr Sanders was going way back when and was focussed on attacking Biden and Biden flashed a smile and denied all. Then he said if you must focus on past, aboud Sanders passing on gun and what not. Time has come for Mr. Sanders to concede and mathematically he can not win enough delegates to be the nominee. Time to support Mr. Joe Biden for President. Our vote is tomorrow and I am planning to go to vote for Mr. Joe Biden.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
@B Sharp Best to look at candidate records instead of TV in deciding who and what you are voting for. Our future depends on it -- especially right now.
BarrowK (NC)
@Al M I've looked at their records and current proposals. The overwhelming choice is Joe Biden. Common sense, workable solutions.
Steve (New York)
@B Sharp Biden did stumble when he couldn't remember the word "Ebola." At first, he said coronavirus, then corrected himself and said that wasn't it but he still couldn't find the correct word so just said it was the Africa thing. I didn't hear Sanders similarly stumble.
CSP (Georgia)
Biden spent the evening pretending he was currently President and telling us what "he" was going to do to solve the crisis we face. That is nice, but it won't matter in 10 months when he is (hopefully) sworn in as President. Bernie, on the other hand, continues to be critical of the processes and decisions that have been made by our leadership (both Republican and Democratic) which have critically injured the American public by handing victory after victory to corporate money and power. Personally, I am glad Bernie stood up for the American people... someone need to.
Meg (AZ)
Biden was never voted to cut Social Security and Bernie's persistent claim that Biden has made a career out of this is just plain false. This false claim of Bernie's has been pointed out on Politifact, WaPo and Fact Check. There were a couple of times in our history where we were in a crisis where the GOP threaded to shut down government and default on our debt, largely due to the high deficits from lost revenues due to collapse of the economy. In such an instance, Biden said he was open to considering a 1 year freeze (for the entire budget) in order to come to a solution and break a stalemate. But for Bernie Sanders to say that Biden has ever been for cutting Social Security, well that is false, and Bernie knows this Earlier in the primary season Bernie got caught with the edited video trying to claim Biden was praising the Ryan Plan's cuts. The media called him out on it and he pretended to not know who had put it out there. However, it now seems clear that these distortions were where Bernie had intended to go all along. There are now prime time TV ads running in my retiree swing state claiming Biden has always been for cutting Social Security and nothing could be further from the truth. Bernie could cost us this election and a Senate seat here in AZ with his dishonesty. Then there is the matter of the 3 Super PACs supporting Bernie and the 6 501(c)(4)s - better known as Dark Money.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
@Meg Biden has more than once advocated cuts to Social Security and Medicare -- the congressional record exists. Sanders has more than once advocated raising the cap on deductions by the wealthiest to secure and expand S0ocial Security and of course to open up Medicare to all of us.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Al M ....As Senators, one of the candidates has engaged in the give and take necessary to get legislation passed, and the other has opted for ideological purity. Leadership and governance in a democracy requires negotiation and compromise.
Meg (AZ)
@Al M Actually the fact check sites say this claim of Bernie's is downright false. I am also now a senior and I have always paid close attention to politics. Bernie is being very dishonest,
philly (Philadelphia)
Bernie lost all credibility when at the beginning his response to how he would attack the Coronavirus was to tax the rich and essentially destroy the pharmaceutical companies, the same companies that we are now depending upon to come up with a cure and vaccine to save us all. He showed that he is tone deaf and totally separated from reality.
David (Boston)
@philly The pharmaceutical industry is not going to have a vaccine in time to make a meaningful impact. Even if one of the ones already developed (e.g., Moderna) is indeed effective, it will be at least 12 months until it can be cleared for widespread use. The best case is that we have a vaccine to prevent downstream epidemics, but the worst of this current phase will be past. This is coming from someone who works in the pharmaceutical industry.
Steve (New York)
@philly Something you forget about. Those company are in business to make money, not for the public good which is secondary. Thus they invest a great deal of money in new drugs for the management of chronic diseases for which their drugs need to be taken for years guaranteeing a continuing flow of income. But when it comes to vaccines or antibiotics or antivirals which are one or two time things for most people, they have much less interest in them.
philly (Philadelphia)
@Steve All businesses are in the business of making money. Right now there are 9 pharmaceutical companies trying to find a cure and/or a vaccine for the virus. Fortunately all of them have the money and resources to invest in the development of the potential cures, because they have been in business to make money in the past. I would suggest that these companies are doing the Coronavirus development for the public good if your statement that there is no money in vaccines and or antivirals is correct.
Mike (texas)
Joe Biden said Sunday the struggles that Italy has had combating the coronavirus epidemic exposes the shortcomings of a single-payer health care system. Isn't it also true the struggles of the United States has exposed the shortcomings of an insurance-based health care system?
philly (Philadelphia)
@Mike No it hasn't. Please show us where, at this moment, the shortcomings of our private insurance based healthcare system. The system has nothing to do with testing, and please let us know when you read about the insurance industry denying coverage for a person with coronavirus.
Daniel Wagle (Decatur, GA)
@Mike Italy and Great Britain both have a severe shortage of hospital beds, which made it difficult for either to treat emergency patients, even before this Coronavirus crisis.
Mike (NY)
@philly When it comes to getting infected with a virus the type of health care system is irrelevant (although of course having people with no access to healthcare or paid sick leave would make things worse). The point is that Biden's argument was absurd. Having said that, how the US responds to this crisis remains to be seen (so far it's not impressive, but arguably not related to the health care system yet), but you could look at South Korea to see both an effective response facilitated by a single-payer system and what such a system can enable you to do.
Common Sense (Brooklyn, NY)
Gail Collins writes: "But one has already been vice president. So that’s a huge win for Biden." And that's a huge loss for America. Biden is harkening back just as much to the past as is Trump. Yes, his is to the more recent past of the 2010's v Trump's of the big 80's. But, Biden and his wing of the Democratic Party are holding on to tried but no longer true solutions. Biden's ideas are as old as him. We need a new playbook for the 2020's and they aren't coming from Sleepy Joe.
Pat Boice (Idaho Falls, ID)
@Common Sense - Blame the voters. The best candidates, IMO, dropped out because they didn't get the votes. Now we're left with the two septuagenarians, both of whom should have retired already. After suffering for 3 years with a loud-mouth dotard as President, and a pandemic to boot, the choice between a revolution or status quo is easy: Biden.
second Derivative (MI)
This debate was virtually the swan song for Bernie and he did well to highlight that has long held positions, even while unpopular in the past are becoming a reality now. He thinks that leadership is about taking such lead positions. Bernie is a thought leader who appeals to those who can discern truth and those whose shoes pinch. Biden stressed that they both share the end goals of reducing inequality, affordable healthcare for all and making college education accessible. Biden pointed out that Italy has single payer insurance, clearly implying that definition of a solution is by itself solves nothing. He seeks the glide-path to consolidate the gains already made and focus on the road map to reach outcomes that Bernie and he seek. Biden is a pragmatic leader with a common sense approach towards getting things done.
WIS Gal (Colorado)
Once again, moderators let Bernie run them right over . He gets to decide when and where to answer whatever he wants. His need to control the whole is consistent with Berns Knows Best, always. The incredible shrinking candidate will rail on until the sun sets on his campaign.
Steve (New York)
@WIS Gal It's good to know that no other candidates do anything like that. And perhaps I missed his insightful answer when Biden was asked about his lack of support among Latino voters and didn't even say anything at all that in any way related to the issue.
Darby Stevens (WV)
@WIS Gal I thought the exact same thing and wished they would shut him down.
WIS Gal (Colorado)
@Steve Actually, Biden graciously followed the moderators' lead. Pointing to a singular issues of your concern is a strawman unrelated to my major claim. Bernie does what Bernie does beyond reproach. That inability to listen, reflect, give away structurally to the venue's constraints is dangerous and actually very Trumpian.
Barry (Stone Mountain)
Sanders chose to pull out the nuclear option against Biden, by bringing up past video evidence that Biden had supported freezing social security, Medicare and veterans benefits. I regret seeing him do this. He has no chance of defeating Biden for the nomination, and all this did was possibly weaken Biden in the general. A very poor decision, Bernie!
Welcome to Hard Times (Truth or Consequences, New Mexico)
@Barry Bernie is fighting to save the 68,000 Americans who needlessly lose their lives annually due to lack of healthcare (cf. recent Yale study estimate). If Bernie throws in the towel, he is simultaneously throwing them under the bus.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
@Barry The truth hurts. Biden also supported the Hyde Amendment and is weak on women's choice. If you really wanted to secure your Social Security and support women's rights, civil rights and the strongest candidate to defeat Trump, you should be supporting Sanders.
Glenn (New Jersey)
@Barry "all this did was possibly weaken Biden in the general" He was just pointing out what we would be getting, which is irritating a lot of people because they are pretending to deny that that's basically who they are and what they want. Trump supporters are proud of his positions, Biden's supporters want to pretend he is a different guy. They want the money part and the pretend to care about the needy part as a package.
Tom Triumph (Vermont)
Quick Take-aways: 1. No audience is good. It felt like an exchange of ideas and philosophies not a campaign for the popular vote. 2. Fewer people on stage is better. I liked having 20+ candidates to choose from and was okay with the DNC dropping this or that person (miss you, though, Marianne!). Perhaps if South Carolina was first who was left standing would have changed slightly. 3. This was a clear choice of underlying philosophies. Biden is about tweaking what we have, Bernie for overhauling it all. Both have their arguments. I'm glad I have an honest choice.
sharon (worcester county, ma)
@Tom Triumph Agree. It was the only debate I could watch without wincing. Too bad my cable went all funky and the debate wouldn't play anymore. I saw about half. But it was a marked improvement over previous free-for-all Jerry Springer style prior debates.
Feldman (Portland)
@Tom Triumph I agree with all you wrote except the sense that Bernie would need to change everything. Not so. His point is that finalizing M4A and student debt and immigration and unfair taxation would leave a New Greening as a fine national occupation, as a substitute for our rather stupid military preoccupation.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
Joe was on a roll promising working people they would get money and not lose homes from layoffs and work slowdowns but he didn't say how he would do that -- just empty competitive campaign rhetoric. Sanders has worked it out. Even before the Covid pandemic this country has been in crisis with half of us close to the poverty line and a paycheck or illness away from disaster. Our water is toxic, our infrastructure in decay and corporate influence and corruption run amok. The climate crises remains an existential challenge. Biden held his own but he is unable to deal with the challenges we face that he helped create. Sanders remains our last chance for the competent, insightful leadership we desperately need.
sharon (worcester county, ma)
@Al M Gee, I heard several answers to how either Biden or Sanders would get this done. Did we watch different debates?
C. Spearman (Memphis)
@Al M And as others have said numerous time, how could he possibly get congress, both houses, to go along with his revolution?
JK (Toronto, North America)
Bernie Sanders can't win the Democratic nomination. The numbers are not there. But he could show real leadership by stepping down now, I mean today. He could allow four states to shut down their primaries, and in the process, prevent thousands of people from being exposed to COVID-19. Bernie Sanders - if you really care about the health and welfare of the American people, and the rest of us that are residents of this share continent, then end the primaries now.
Atlant Schmidt (Nashua, NH)
@JK Joe Biden can't win the General Election. The numbers are not there. But he could show real leadership by stepping down now, I mean today. Joe Biden - if you really care about the health and welfare of the American people, and the rest of us that are residents of this share continent, then end the primaries now and stand aside for Senator Sanders, someone whom poll after poll shows could win in November.
Sean Reynolds (Cincinnati)
@Atlant Schmidt According to research, it was Sanders' supporters in 2016 who handed Trump the margin of victory he needed in key electoral college states. Biden will be the Democratic nominee in 2020, and what remains to be seen is whether Sanders' supporters will deliver another election to Trump either by opting out or by casting a protest vote.
Dan (New Hampshire)
@Sean Reynolds Nice cherry-picking the data to suit your needs. The supporters who defected to Trump were Republicans, first-time voters and Independents who wouldn't have voted for a Democrat anyway. You can't be presumptuous that every single person who supports Bernie will immediately fall in line behind a party they don't support. Why are you considering those as "your" votes that are Sanders' fault for losing? If you can find a way to make Republicans vote for Democrats, hey, I'm all ears. But so far the only person who has figured out how to do that is Bernie Sanders, so if he is not nominated, those votes are gone, plain and simple.
John (Orlando)
This debate highlighted the futility of a Trump-Biden general election. It will be an election about nothing. The result will be a strengthening of the far right.
Keith (Colorado)
@John I hear you, but ousting a potential totalitarian while we still can is very far from "nothing." The movement Sanders has been building is still growing right now. The next generation will be able to develop that further and sooner if they don't have to work against the additional reactionary bulwarks Trump & Co could put in place with four more years to do it. Much as with fighting the pandemic, flattening the curve offers time and hope.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
@Keith " The next generation will be able to develop that further . . ." If only we had the time. Sadly we do not. The expanding reality of climate collapse are and will have far greater impact than the coronavirus. We are not doing what we must to mitigate or adapt. A Biden nomination seals our fate.
sharon (worcester county, ma)
@John Check the stock market today. Markets in Europe are tanking. Our markets will follow. Italy is seeing a fatality rate of around 8%. The US is caught flat footed to handle this crisis. We have a "president' who rage tweets about Obama and Hillary's emails. He is not well, living in some alternate world instead of the escalating dangerous reality that the real world is facing. There are NO TESTS, the response so far has been horrendous and grossly inept, governors mock one day and the next are declaring states of emergency. Travelers panicked, log jamming airports where they were crushed against each other like sardines for hours on end. It was the same in foreign airports ill prepared to deal with the onslaught of travelers returning home to the USA before his negligent and clueless "mispeaking" that our borders would be closed to US citizens wanting to return home. Not one of the foreign countries affected by this travel ban had any inkling that this was coming and were caught completely unprepared to handle it. In the US we have countless travelers saying no temps. were taken. TSA was more concerned with custom declarations instead of the actual health of the travelers returning home. Do you honestly think people who lose loved ones and friends to this inept administration will not remember in Nov? True, some won't care. They are empty vessels with no soul, no moral compass. They only care for money. Take a look at the stock market. Even their "God" money is dying.
een (laurel highlands of pennsylvania)
When I saw Peter Wehner's comment about Sanders having "radicalized" the Democratic Party, I had to re-read the sentence. If presenting FDR-style capitalism with a human face is radical, then sign me up. The status quo has got to go.
sharon (worcester county, ma)
@een Wehner is a right wing "conservative". per WIKI- "Peter Wehner is a veteran of three administrations (Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush) and the author of The Death of Politics. He is an American writer and Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), a conservative think tank. He is also a fellow at the Trinity Forum." He more than likely will not be voting for either candidate. I would take his conservative opinion for what it's worth. Not much.
Meg (AZ)
@sharon FDR was a Democrat. Democrats are the only reason we have any of the social welfare programs and workers rights we have today. So, I find it odd that while he trashes the Democrats, Bernie selectively tries to associate himself with the Democrat's heroes like FDR and Obama (even to the point of selectively editing videos to make it appear Obama was praising him). Interestingly Politico did a story on how FDR hated the use of such labels like socialism and fought against it. The Democrats have accomplished a lot for the people of this nation and would do a lot more if not for the GOP.
Woody (USA)
@een Sanders is a kind of faded throwback. His statement of, quote, “a government of the working people, by the working people and for the working people”; what does that really mean? How do we get there? Based on election experience, European socialists have learned not to say this slogan anymore. Union-wise, Sanders campaign does not have the member majority of support anyway.
cherrylog754 (Atlanta,GA)
Look, here's the deal. Number 1. I'll take Joe, and know we'll be hearing a lot of the above over the next four years. But it will be a blessing compared to the pathological liar that currently occupies the White House. Bernie has his heart in the right place but as Joe stated, we don't need a political revolution now, we need stability and a healing process for the nation.
John (Orlando)
@cherrylog754 When Sanders challenged Biden over the fact that he hadn't supported an increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Biden answered: "I went to Jeff Bezos to get his approval but he wants to build a floating city in the sky, and can't do so if forced to give workers a decent wage. . . . Everyone told Bezos the idea is unworkable but he's gotten hold of this notion . . . He has promised me an apartment in he new city, so win-win."
Just Thinkin’ (Texas)
@cherrylog754 But whoever is president in 2021, the virus will be mostly behind us by then, and what we will need is a leader helping us to bring about the change that will make sure we have a more democratic government, willing and able to serve us all; not one controlled by those who hire lobbyists (who then write the legislation favorable to their employers) and support candidates who will lower their taxes and remove necessary regulations. Sanders has been willing to stick with his fight, and it has been a needed one -- he needs out support to now go further and legislate the needed policies. If we are stuck with Biden, we need to get him to see this -- and not think that where Obama went is the beginning and end of good policy.
Steve (New York)
@cherrylog754 What Biden presented was that we don't really to change things so that the next time we hit a crisis we'll address that at the time but not make changes that might help to mitigate its consequences. It's like a kid not doing a term paper until the last minute and needs his parent's help to finish it and takes the view why change my work habits because I'll simply depend upon their help again the next time I need to do a term paper.
Brian (Downingtown, PA)
So Joe Biden has persevered. People might think he has found his footing. Perhaps, at long last, Joe is the candidate we hoped he would be. I think he picked up a thing or two from Bernie. Bernie came across with a bit more compassion and a little less edginess. Maybe Bernie was sounding a bit more like Joe. Last night's debate will not change the outcome of the Democratic primary. I do hope it helps the Democratic consolidate their support for Joe Biden. Bernie Sanders has run an honorable campaign. I suspect that he will end his campaign shortly after tomorrow's primaries. Bernie is a good man, and I'm sure his conduct his withdrawal with dignity, grace, and a bit of grit. The time for the Democrats to pivot to the November 3, 2020 presidential election is upon us.
OldBoatMan (Rochester, MN)
@Brian Bernie developed the edginess over the past four years in response to his shabby treatment by the Democratic Party establishment and Trump in the Oval Office. Bernie is same Bernie I saw for the first time on January 31, 2016 in Waterloo, IA. He was more mellow then. Bernie was superb when he answered questions. It was nice to get a glimpse of the old Bernie. Life has taken its toll on all of us.
Pat Boice (Idaho Falls, ID)
@OldBoatMan - Most of us change given time and information. In 2016 I voted for Bernie in the Primary, but this time around I just couldn't get up any enthusiasm for his revolution. For me, Trump has so polluted the Oval Office, and destroyed whatever respect most of our allies might have had for us, and now what I want the most is a calm, dignified, quiet leader behind the Resolute Desk, and I just can't picture Bernie there.
Harry (Missouri)
@Brian Amazing how far Biden has come since he entered the race bragging about his chummy relationships with the old Dixiecrats and segregationists. Bernie and Warren have shown him the way to America's promised land. Now he must remain faithful to that vision and not, upon becoming president, meander back into the Senate chambers to reminisce and cavort among the Lost Cause's fossilized remnants.
Matt (VT)
The "get rid of Donald Trump" mantra is off target, in my opinion. Trump is the symptom, not the disease. If we hope to rehabilitate our country, we need to do more than replace its nominal figurehead. The decline of the planet has been accelerating for decades now and only significant, structural change to our economic and political structures will be capable of changing that trajectory.
Droid05680 (VT)
@Matt Fever and chills are symptoms that can be miserable and are worthy of treatment. We are better able to treat the underlying disease at 98.6/37.
Chris R (Ryegate Vermont)
@Matt Matt, your're correct that trump is a symptom. However, removing him must be the first step in addressing any other issue we have... it is far from "off target." Structural, economic and political change are complex and will not be corrected with, as Bernie says "Revolution." Don't get me wrong, his heart is in the right place... it's just that we can't get their with revolution.
Charlie (NJ)
@Matt I agree with your Trump is a symptom, not the disease comment. I'm not sure we'd agree on the disease or the cure. To me, the disease is a very partisan and divided America both our people and our legislators. The solution has to start with leadership that can inspire more of us to believe in and trust each other. That most certainly isn't Trump. Nor is it Sanders.
Euxinus (California)
Biden's debate score tend is the opposite of the stock market. I missed an upward trend...
Neil (Texas)
I think Democrats are going to regret this rush to nail down a nominee. I don't know about other folks, but either the sound system was not functioning well or these two old gentlemen were speaking as if at a bridge playing club. Especially, Bernie was hard to hear some time. Also, these 2 old political war horses kept referring to the old battles for votes in the Senate that in today's emergency had almost no meaning and more importantly, no relevance. And of course, Joe made some exaggerated claims on Ebola which will come back to haunt him as they are so easy to fact check. I am 72 and remember Ebola - but nothing stand out like today's emergency. Finally, both letting the cat out - so to speak - about their number 2 - now, all attention shifts to ”who is she?” If I were a betting man - Amy will be Joe's number 2. And Bernie might make history with AOC as his number 2 since she is - next to Warren who cannot be his pick - the only progressive woman strongly supporting him.
Corey (Istanbul)
@Neil As much as I wanna see AOC run for president some day, she can't be the vice-president; the same age qualifications--35 years of age--apply to that position too. It's hard to believe, I know--seemingly so much more intelligence in her 28(?) years than the majority of old men in Congress.
ToddTsch (Logan, UT)
@Neil Actually, you have that backwards, Neil. AOC can't be Bernie's pick, but Warren can. Though I would love to be 29 again, sometimes being at least 35 has its advantages.
pmom (New York, NY)
@Neil ... AOC is too young.
Neil (Texas)
I think Democrats are going to regret this rush to nail down a nominee. I don't know about other folks, but either the sound system was not functioning well or these two old gentlemen were speaking as if at a bridge playing club. Especially, Bernie was hard to hear some time. Also, these 2 old political war horses kept referring to the old battles for votes in the Senate that in today's emergency had almost no meaning and more importantly, no relevance. And of course, Joe made some exaggerated claims on Ebola which will come back to haunt him as they are so easy to fact check. I am 72 and remember Ebola - but nothing stand out like today's emergency. Finally, both letting the cat out - so to speak - about their number 2 - now, all attention shifts to ”who is she?” If I were a betting man - Amy will be Joe's number 2. And Bernie might make history with AOC as his number 2 since she is - next to Warren who cannot be his pick - the only progressive woman strongly supporting him.
JF (Boston, MA)
@Neil I remember Ebola as well, and it was horrible. Just because it wasn't in our space, doesn't mean it wasn't horrible - and it was contained.
UrbanTeacher (Chicago, IL)
@Neil AOC isn't old enough to be the Vice President. She won't be eligible until 2024. I think she'll be president some day, though.
sharon (worcester county, ma)
@Neil AOC can't be his VP. At age 30 she is not old enough to take over as president, minimum age 35, if something were to happen to Sanders. Are we truly this ignorant of basic Constitutional rules?
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