It hasn’t gotten the hype of last weeks debate but tonight promises to be more of the same — albeit with a different target – and major consequences at stake.
Tonight will be fascinating to watch as the target has to be Bernie Sanders. He comes out of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada as the clear leader. He pulls an upset in S.C. Saturday and he goes three days later into Super Tuesday as unstoppable. The chance to stop him is tonight.
THE CANDIDATES TONIGHT:
Mike Bloomberg was off the trial for days preparing and he has to stop Bernie, even though he is not on the ballot in S.C. He will be better prepared and use his financial knowledge to attack. He will be ready to counter Sanders tonight. They will go at each other.
Joe Biden has to be feeling the heat as Bernie has closed the SC poll gap. He is in a must win here. If Bernie takes him out that could be it for Joe.
This may his last chance, in his career, to win a single presidential primary or caucus. Last night in a speech he asked South Carolinians to “vote for me for senate”. He is prone to gaffs but can’t make one like that tonight.
Pete Buttigieg has to know his lane is the center and he has stop Bernie here to be the alternative to VP Biden. He will continue attacking Bloomberg too with his “we should at least nominate a Democrat” line. He is running fifth or sixth here and a poor showing will highlight his minority voter issues and the air will be coming out of his balloon.
Amy Klobuchar knows by now her momentum was cut by Mayor Pete’s attacks in the last debate. She may very well attack Bernie and try to bury Buttigieg along the way. You can sure she will be prepared to talk his record as Mayor of South Bend. Her challenge is to assure she maintains the dignity and the respect she has earned. She will be a leading VP possibility if she does and sets herself up for 2024.
Senator Warren has to walk carefully. She needs Bernie stopped and she is the left alternative. So, she will tread carefully on her Bernie attacks and not let up on Bloomberg, Biden or Buttigeg. She is walking a fine line here. Her task, standout while not angering Bernie’s supporters. Not as easy as attacking Bloomberg last time.
Tom Steyer is in this debate and he has spent heavily in S.C. He is actually third (in double digits) in the pre polls. He has no reason to hold back tonight because it ends here without an upset. His argument has to be why he got in this race (because he thought no announced candidate could beat Trump). If he’s serious he has to stop Biden tonight.
That leaves Bernie Sanders. Tonight he is target one. He and his team know it. The question is this. Will they attack like the Republicans will in November? The warm words for Fidel’s Cuba. The glowing tributes to Venezuela before it imploded. The embrace he gave the old Soviet Union. Will they call him on all that and defend capitalism? Will they say his policies would destroy America as it did the others?
Senator Sanders will counter that he wants a “fairer America” and “we can do better”. He will be prepared. If he is prepared enough, or able to withstand the onslaught and win Saturday, then we are on to probable showdown in November that will be historic.
One last comment on this. How did the Democratic Party get here?
They avoided attacking Bernie up to now. Why? They thought he was so far left that the people in the party would take him out and they could avoid alienating them. They miscalculated. Their rhetoric and anti administration rants have driven some in the party that far left. Maybe it’s a minority of the party, but it’s a vocal minority. Now they face reaping what they have sown. They have to stop Sanders or he marches off leaving them behind.
Then add this.
In those swing districts that in 2018 swung the House to a Democratic majority, how do those candidates feel? Right now they are running on the fact they voted to impeach the President and their standard bearer could be Sanders. You think they’re happy? Wonder what they are rooting for tonight.
So get ready. Eight o’clock tonight the bell rings.