Shaun King: Here’s What Happened In The First Democratic Debate

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In just a few moments I wanna talk with you about a huge election victory we had in New York on Tuesday, and how I think you can duplicate in your own city, but first, I wanna give you my raw thoughts on the first Democratic debate.

I have to preface all of this with a big picture thought. Debates don’t win presidencies and they damn sure don’t win presidential campaigns against Donald Trump. I’m not saying that they are unimportant, I’m just saying that they aren’t how a person win or loses a campaign. With that said, let me tell you who I thought won the night, who I thought lost, who needs to go home, and what I hope to see in tonight’s second debate.

If I had to just pick one winner, I thought Julian Castro was the big winner of last night’s debate, actually. He came in with the clearest, most cogent, thoughtful answers on almost every question he was asked. Nobody on the stage came near him on the issue of immigration, but he nailed reproductive rights and police brutality and civil rights as well. He was confident and willing to hammer Beto or anybody else if they were wrong. I think he benefited from coming into the debate with very few people expecting much from him – and he crushed those low expectations. So I thought Julian was the biggest winner of the night.

But I also thought that Elizabeth Warren was brilliant. She might have very well been the smartest, quickest thinker on the stage. I appreciated that she stood up boldly for Medicare For All, but also offered beautiful answers and ideas and plans on gun reform and the economy.

Lastly, I was impressed with Cory Booker. I actually expected him to shine on the debate stage. Like Warren, he’s a great speaker, super smart, and a quick thinker. He was able to be passionate when needed and was able to give super thorough and thoughtful answers all night long.

I thought Beto had a rough night. And perhaps more than anybody else, he needed a good one. His campaign already seems to be on the ropes, and he just couldn’t afford to struggle. I think he’ll continue his campaign, of course, but he needed to be able to stand out from the pack, and I don’t think I saw a single person online come away with the thought that he did that.

In our democracy, any citizen is allowed to run for President, but I hope the standards are higher for the next debates so that we can eliminate at least a few people – like John Delaney, the former Congressman from Maryland. I’d much rather see the top candidates get the time that he’s using up. I think Tim Ryan, the congressman from Ohio, struggled as well. Tulsi Gabbard, who I know well, also struggled for almost the entire night until the end when she won an exchange between herself and Tim Ryan on national security.

I think tonight is going to be a great debate. I think Bernie and Kamala Harris will do well and I think we’ll all come away thinking that a few of those candidates need to drop out as well. Mayor Pete, who has had a horrible month as Mayor kind of fumbling a crisis of police brutality needs to do well. And I’m curious to see how Biden does. He has avoided the media like the plague since he first announced he was running and I wonder if he’ll be able to handle any tough questions thrown his way.

Tonight, I’m hosting a debate party in San Francisco, but I’m actually in town supporting a man that I really admire who’s running to be the next District Attorney of the city – and his name is Chesa Boudin – he’s a brilliant, compassionate public defender and civil rights attorney – and has a plan to change the justice system in San Francisco from the inside out. And I think what happened in Queens this past week, with the election of Tiffany Caban as the next District Attorney, has given us a lot of momentum in other races for DA nationwide.

As you may know, I’m the Co-Founder of a political organization called Real Justice, and we help oust horrible district attorneys and campaign to replace them with bold, compassionate change agents – and I think Tiffany Caban – who is just 31 years old – and will now become the youngest DA of any major city in the nation – I think Tiffany Caban is literally the most bold, progressive person we’ve ever elected.

I’ve gotta run, but I’ll close with this quick thought. I took everything I had, everything Real Justice had, and everything nearly 25 other organizations had, to get her elected. It was a beast. And with a brilliant candidate, her amazing team, and 25 organizations fighting around the clock for months, we barely won. That’s how hard it can be to win these races, but it gave me hope that all of you listening can do the same thing. If Tiffany can win in Queens, New York, we need to have bold change agents as DA all over the country.

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