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What to look for in tonight’s third debate

by | Sep 12, 2019

By Dave Andrusko

Here’s the opening sentence of the Washington Post’s Matt Viser’s take on tonight’s third debate between 10 candidates competing to be the Democrats’ presidential nominee:

Joe Biden will be tested by some of his strongest challengers, eager to knock the former vice president from his so-far durable perch atop the rest of the field.

But the real test will be for viewers. This humdinger is going three hours, which is a test of endurance, albeit less than half the seven-long-hour CNN climate change town hall. We’ll see if tonight’s debate in Houston bottoms out, ratings-wise, as did the CNN marathon.

There are a gazillion “what to look for” stories. Viser’s second sentence is the distilled convention wisdom:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is hoping to continue her steady rise, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants to keep pushing a relentlessly consistent message — and the rest of the field is working to prevent the race from becoming a three-person contest.

Some trade-offs are subtle, others hit you over the head. With most of the seven dwarfs at 3% or less in the aggregate of political polls, they have perhaps their one chance to break out of the darkness and into the light. After all, they are not divided into two panels and will be on the same stage.

The complementary point is there will be the perhaps impossible to resist temptation to say even wackier things than we heard in the first two debates. And taking shots at the Big Three– with the perpetually confused former vice president an especially inviting target—could take up a lot of time especially in the first hour before the audience begins to turn to the Thursday night football game.

Two quick points as you watch the debate from Texas Southern University on ABC and Univision.

First, as we’ve discussion a great deal of late, some of the Democrats’ legion of media enablers have cautioned their favorite sons and daughters about taking positions that are not—repeat not—popular with the electorate. I don’t expect any of the ten to dial back anything—the party has swung hard Left– but, who knows?

Second, Texas Right to Life wrote today that NRLC’s state affiliate “will launch a Pro-Life billboard truck outside tonight’s Houston debate.” The message reads

Dear Democrats
Abortion Separates

Children from
Their families

Will the abortion issue make an appearance? With most of the contestants eager to out-radicalize their nine competitors, it could easily come up, even if the moderators don’t ask about it.

8:00 EST on ABC and Univision.

Categories: Politics
Tags: debate