Lines in the sand were more apparent than ever before on the debate stage. The second batch of 10 Democratic candidates for president faced off Wednesday to conclude the second round of Democratic Primary Debates. Most notable were former-Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, who dominated not only the discussion in the first debates but on Wednesday as well. For other low-polling candidates, tonight was about leaving a lasting impression on voters in order to qualify for the impending September debates. All voices were heard, and they were frequently aimed at those on stage rather than Republican enemies.
Here are five main takeaways from the closing night of debates:
Infighting is becoming more common, and it’s not productive
In the first round of debates, candidates took more subtle shots at one another’s positions. Now, it seems like no one is holding back from attacking plans and platforms. Healthcare plans sparked a large debate between Harris and Biden. Lower-polling candidates, such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also weighed in, criticizing Biden and Harris’ plans, respectively.
However, one candidate didn’t seem to buy into the attacks. Sen. Cory Booker reminded his fellow candidates of how Republicans want to see them go for each other rather than their rival party. Throughout the night, Booker spoke of healing divides in the party, in America and in the immigration system rather than calling out other candidates.
The past can haunt you
Harris and Biden aren’t strangers to calling each other out, especially after the first round of debates. But now other candidates are pressing questions at the two front runners, and it’s clear that their past track records are being used against them.
Gillibrand, who has been running on a fairly feminist platform, questioned Biden on an op-ed he wrote decades ago. In the op-ed, Biden said that allowing more women to work by providing tax breaks for daycare would lead to "the deterioration of the family." Gabbard took additional shots at Harris, pointing out that she incarcerated about 1,500 people for marijuana violations yet laughed when asked if she had ever smoked marijuana.
Biden came with fire in his belly Wednesday. After receiving numerous blows in the June debates, Biden entered his second debate with a more offensive approach rather than defensive. When Harris criticized his healthcare plan, Biden was quick to point out the costs associated with her own plan, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s.
“I don’t know what math you do in New York. I don’t know what math you do in California,” Biden said. “But I tell ya, that’s a lot of money.”
Yang is more than his universal basic income plan
The thing most easily associated with candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang is his idea for every American to get a $1,000-per-month dividend. However, tonight Yang was able to speak more expansively on his positions on various other platforms. He discussed the dangers of automatization and climate change. Some of his answers were tied back to his idea for universal basic income, which showed how such an income could be used, but it also came across as a recycled line.
Smaller voices shine
When the two highest polling candidates receive the center podiums, it’s easy to focus on them. However, Biden and Harris’ focus on each other and defending attacks seemed to work out well for other candidates. Booker and Yang were able to make waves, rising above what Yang called a reality TV show-styled debate. Gabbard’s knowledge of international affairs due to her service in the military, in addition to her probing of Harris, helped bolster her name as well. What’s clear after tonight’s debate is that, like night one, there may not have been one clear winner. Multiple battles were fought on stage tonight, but it’s true that any candidate can lose a battle yet win the war.
The third round of Democratic Primary Debates will take place in September.