The first Democratic presidential debate of 2020 is in Des Moines on Tuesday night, less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Gone is the big crowd of 20 cheerful hopefuls who gathered on a glittering stage in Miami over two nights for the very first Democratic debate seven months ago, strutting their stuff and shaking hands before a mesmerized media.
The debate would be “the largest gathering of liberals since Woodstock,” predicted Ross Baker, a distinguished political science professor at Rutgers University — and he was right.
But time marches on, competition is keen. This time around, there’s a slim cast of just six hopefuls at the CNN-hosted event: Sens. Bernard Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar; former Vice President Joseph R. Biden; Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana; and billionaire Tom Steyer. Things may not be so cordial. Reality has set in.
“The narratives have been morphing over the past few days as the rift grows between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Both candidates seem to have realized that there’s a chance they could split the progressive vote and hand a victory to Joe Biden if they can’t consolidate a solid base,” writes Nate Ashworth, editor of Election Central.
“Tuesday debate is a battle for heads, not hearts,” declares The Washington Post.
“Tight polls, impeachment, billionaire wild cards: Uncertainty reigns in run up to Tuesday’s Democratic debate,” advises The Los Angeles Times.
In other words, the election is now underway. For real. The Democratic hopefuls are foes and rivals now, not friends.
GOOD GUY WITH A GUN
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has presented the Governor’s Medal of Courage — the Lone Star State’s highest civilian award — to Jack Wilson.
The former reserve deputy sheriff took out a shooter who opened fire in a Fort Worth church in late December, felling the gunman with a single round within six seconds after the shooting began. The congregation numbered 240 people; two members of the church were killed. Mr. Wilson, 71, heads up the church’s volunteer security squad.
“I had a clear shot and I took the shot, and the shooter went down. I don’t see myself as a hero. I see myself as doing what needed to be done to take out the evil threat,” Mr. Wilson told reporters in the aftermath.
FIRST AMENDMENT IN MILWAUKEE
President Trump will stage yet another splendid rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday, one in a long sequence of campaign rallies that make up his successful voter outreach. But there’s always drama afoot, and the Milwaukee rally is no exception.
This rally takes place in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena, a detail which caused so much consternation among students that chancellor Mark Mone had to explain that the campus had naming rights for the venue — but neither owns the site nor controls who appears there. Young critics had deemed the Trump gathering a “hate” rally.
“I have frequently spoken about our unwavering commitment to your safety, inclusivity, equity and respect. We are proud that we educate the most diverse population of any campus in the state with more under-represented minority students and veterans than any other Wisconsin campus. Our campus community is further enriched by our first-generation, LGBT, and non-traditional students. Diversity is further enhanced by critical conversations that can help others see life through their fellow human beings’ lens,” Mr. Mone wrote in a letter to students and faculty.
“Our diversity is also vital in creating an environment that welcomes and encourages the open exchange of ideas and civil, intellectual challenge. This free expression will at times be logical and at other times, highly emotional. Most of us cherish the right to say what’s on our minds. At the same time, each of us is — and will continue to be — confronted with hostile speech and words that challenge our sense of morality and justice. This type of speech is also a right and is protected by the First Amendment,” Mr. Mone advised.
TRUMP COVERAGE 93% NEGATIVE
It is a tradition that continues: Almost all the broadcast coverage about President Trump has been negative in recent months.
“In the first 100 days since House Democrats began their impeachment push on September 24, ABC, CBS and NBC have aggressively aided the effort. A Media Research Center analysis finds the Big Three evening newscasts have battered the President with 93% negative coverage and promoted impeachment at the expense of nearly all other Trump news,” write Rich Noyes and Bill D’Agostino, who evaluated 1,053 comments about Mr. Trump which aired on the networks from Sept. 24 to Jan. 1.
“The broadcast networks donated at least 124 hours of wall-to-wall live coverage as they pre-empted regular programming in favor of House Democrat-led impeachment activities,” the analysts said.
Three-fourths of the coverage was devoted to impeachment, which earned 849 minutes of airtime — compared to the fight against ISIS, which got 78 minutes, North Korea (19 minutes), immigration (17 minutes) and the economy (9 minutes). Democratic candidates were also compromised, Mr. Trump drew a total of 1,143 minutes, Joseph R. Biden got 107 minutes, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernard Sanders got 24 minutes each, and Pete Buttigieg had 8 minutes.
“While most citizens would want their media to be even-handed in their coverage of candidates, the networks seem poised to be as lopsidedly negative in their coverage of Trump’s 2020 campaign as they have been in their coverage of his presidency,” the analysts concluded.
POLL DU JOUR
• 66% of U.S. adults say the federal government should have “a lot of responsibility” in reducing economic inequality in the U.S.; 44% of Republicans and 75% of Democrats agree.
• 62% overall say large business and corporations should have responsibility; 51% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats agree.
• 52% overall say state governments should have responsibility; 41% of Republicans and 57% of Democrats agree.
• 46% overall say wealthy individuals should have responsibility; 34% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats agree.
• 13% overall say churches and religious organizations have the responsibility; 11% of Republicans and 13% of Democrats agree.
Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 6,878 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 16-29 and released Friday.
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