Live Debate Analysis


"Buttigieg really revealing his feisty side": Chat highlights from the fifth Democratic debate

By |

Here are the best exchanges among POLITICO’s analysts during the Democratic debate in Atlanta — from Amy Klobuchar’s standout moment to Pete Buttigieg’s foreign policy clash and Andrew Yang saying the darndest things.


Klobuchar stands out early

Amy Klobuchar has struggled to shine from the far wings of the debate stage. But our POLITICO analysts thought her remarks on sexism in politics gave her the moment she’s been looking for.

Amy Klobuchar 2020 election candidate

Women are held to a higher standard. Otherwise we could play a game called, Name Your Favorite Woman President, which we can’t do because it has all been men.

Amy Klobuchar

Really sharp answer from Klobuchar on the woman question. “We have to work harder and that’s a fact.”

Amy Klobuchar 2020 election candidate

If you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day.

Amy Klobuchar

That was probably the best moment I’ve seen from Klobuchar in these debates.

she called out the clear sexism in politics. tricky thing to do on the debate stage and she nailed it.


Clash of the veterans

Despite predictions his early-state polling surge would make him a target, Pete Buttigieg didn’t get attacked much — until fellow veteran Tulsi Gabbard questioned his foreign-policy judgement for comments he made about Mexico earlier this week. But it’s unclear who got the better of that exchange.

Okay so the predictable attacks on Buttigieg happened tonight. He was (softly) attacked on African American support. Now Sen. Klobuchar is contrasting her experience with his. Still, those critiques have taken up far less time in this debate than I expected.

Uh-oh. Gabbard is joining the Pete pile-on.

Tulsi Gabbard 2020 election candidate

Pete, you’ll agree that the service that we both have provided to our country as veterans by itself does not qualify us to serve as commander in chief.

Tulsi Gabbard

I think Buttigieg is handling this pretty well. He had to know some heat was coming his way tonight.

Peter Buttigieg 2020 election candidate

Do you [Gabbard] seriously think anybody on this stage is proposing invading Mexico? … And if your question is about experience, let’s also talk about judgment. One of the foreign leaders you mentioned meeting was Bashar al-Assad.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg plays the Assad card on Gabbard. It was only a matter of time until someone rolled it out.

man this attack by Gabbard is really blowing up in her face

Buttigieg throwing heat against Gabbard on Assad, in a way no one has really been able to land.

Buttigieg really revealing his feisty side and showing he’ll shrink to nothing.



Another debate. Another set of Biden gaffes.

Joe Biden is known for his stumbles at Democratic debates. He made it an hour and a half into the debate with a smooth performance, but the streak continued with two cringe-worthy moments in a row.

Biden drops his work on Violence Against Women’s act in .01 seconds.

Joseph Biden, Jr. 2020 election candidate

No man has the right to raise a hand to a woman in anger other than in self-defense, and that’s rarely ever occurs. … So we have to just change the culture, period, and keep punching at it and punching at it.

Joe Biden

Oh, man. This is painful. Keep “punching at it,” and the audience is laughing

well that was awkward.

In listing the people who support him among the black community Joe Biden said the “only” black woman elected to the United States Senate. He meant the first but didn’t realize he said it till Cory Booker and Sen. Harris pointed that out.

I guess he still can’t get through these debates without senior-type moments.

That Biden slip is going to be replayed over and over, and he’s going to get grief over it because it fits the meta-narrative. It wasn’t a huge gaffe though. He was merely referring to the first (not the only) African-American woman elected to the Senate, Carol Moseley Braun.


Yang is not insane

After the seventh set of closing statements for democratic debates, POLITICO reporter David Siders was tired of them... until it was Andrew Yang's turn.

Can we do away with closing statements, too?

Yang just said he didn’t plan to run for president because he’s not “insane.” But now he’s running. What does that mean?


Yang might be the first candidate in presidential debate history to claim, “I am not insane.”

I take it back. I want closing statements if Yang is giving them. “I am not insane.”