The South Carolina debate hosted by CBS on Tuesday presented a lot of improvements from the previous Las Vegas, Nevada, debate last week. For many of the candidates, South Carolina — the first primary state where the Black vote matters the most — is their last beacon of hope in advancing in the presidential race.
Here are the takeaways from the debate in the Palmetto State.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, faced a barrage of attacks.
Senator Bernie Sanders, having won three caucuses in a row, was the biggest target in the room. Technically, Mayor Pete Buttigieg received more delegates than Sanders in the chaotic Iowa caucus, but according to CNN, Sanders' popular vote totaled 45,831 votes compared to Buttigieg's 43,273.
With Sen. Sanders being the most significant threat among the Democratic candidates, he was repeatedly attacked for his favorable views on Democratic Socialism. The Vermont senator was the subject of condescension as each candidate desperately interrupted one another to point out how impractical a socialist platform would be for the Democratic nominee.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar told Sen. Sanders, “The math does not add up,” stating his promises of a $15 minimum wage nationwide, free public state college tuition and his signature policy proposal, Medicaid for All, were impossible, The Hill reported. "Well, let me tell you how many nickels and dimes we're talking about. Nearly $60 trillion dollars for all his plans," Klobuchar said.
Buttigieg took notice of Sanders' “incredible shrinking price tag,” for his Medicaid For All plan, referring to its various estimated costs. The former South Bend mayor also mocked Sen. Sanders, saying Medicaid for All "adds up to four more years of Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House and the inability to get the Senate into Democratic hands.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had the most personal insults toward Sanders, accusing him of being aligned with the National Rifle Association and being a favorable candidate for Russia, respectively.
Sanders said, in his defense against Biden's and Bloomberg's comments, that Biden has cast bad votes while in office as well, using his trade agreements as an example, and he explicitly told CBS moderator Norah O'Donnell that "I’m not a good friend of President Xi of China," unlike Bloomberg.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Bloomberg has defended Xi Jinping by saying the president was "not a dictator."
Throughout the debate, loud boos could be heard at certain points whenever Sanders would give his explanation, like his explanation as to why he praised Cuba’s literacy programs despite the country being ruled by a socialist dictatorship.
Michael Bloomberg was prepared for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but he still was not ready.
There is no getting around it, in the Las Vegas debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren bodied Bloomberg. However, it seemed as though Bloomberg managed to counter some of her attacks.
Warren reused her previous argument against Bloomberg, a candidate with an alleged past of verbally abusing his female employees.
"At least I didn't have a boss who said to me, 'kill it,' the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees,” she said.
#ElizabethWarren slams #Bloomberg on pregnancy discrimination in the workplace: “At least I didn’t have a boss that said to me ‘KILL IT’ the way that #Bloomberg is alleged to have said to his pregnant employees.”#DemDebate #2020race #2020Election #Warren2020 #CBSNews pic.twitter.com/6rbO11wyBQ— Daniel (@TheDancuso) February 26, 2020
In addition to the allegations of him verbally mistreating his female workers, it was reported that three women, in particular, were not allowed to go public with their truths due to a nondisclosure agreement with Bloomberg's company.
Bloomberg denied the allegations and thanked Warren's suggestion of releasing the three women from their NDAs, according to Real Clear Politics.
Warren, still frustrated at Bloomberg, used the same talking points, resulting in some of the audience members booing at her.
Taking advantage of Warren's backfire, Bloomberg's remark was harsh and swift.
“With this senator, enough is never enough," Bloomberg said about Warren.
Things were going relatively fine for Bloomberg until his support of the Democratic Party was brought into question. A lot of people on social media were expressly concern about Bloomberg's answer and how he bought (he meant got) candidates into the House, making him appear corrupt by admission.
Vice President Joe Biden fought with Sanders and even Tom Steyer (but why?).
Things are not looking good for Biden. He placed fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and was in a distant second in Nevada. He was thought to be the most electable candidate and was primed to defeat President Donald Trump.
When asked what he would do if he were to lose in the South Carolina caucus, Biden insisted that he will win thanks to the Black vote.
The pressure is on for Biden, seeing how Sanders, Bloomberg and even billionaire businessman Tom Steyer are high contenders for the Black vote.
According to FiveThirtyEight, there is a correlation between Biden's recent loss of Black voters and Sanders' and Bloomberg's gain among Black people.
In South Carolina, a state where 61% of Democratic primary voters were Black people in 2016 and that has a Black population of about 30%, this is a test of Biden's clout — this is a must-win for Biden.
Biden made sure to bring up the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015. He consistently praised his involvement with former President Barack Obama in achieving an investment of $500 million into South Carolina's economy. The most notable reception he received from the audience was when he promised to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court, reports The Hill.
The former vice president said Sanders has not accomplished much in the Senate.
Biden also made it his priority to attack Steyer for his past investment into private prisons in South Carolina.
Steyer was quick in responding to Biden's remark, and the two men engaged in a shouting match in front of Sen. Klobuchar.
Steyer, who barely qualified for the debate, is "spending hundreds of millions, tens of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars" on campaigning in South Carolina, Biden said on his appearance on Face the Nation.
Steyer has expressed support for reparations for Black people whose legacies have endured the consequences of slavery, reports the Daily Dot.
Everything is on the line.
Just like the previous debate, the candidates seem to be on the edge, especially Biden whose expectation has fallen drastically.
A CBS poll predicts that Biden will come in at first place in the South Carolina primary. The second and third places are predicted to go to Sanders and Steyer, getting 23% and 18% respectively, with the remaining four contenders expected to secure no more than 12% of the votes each.