Reaction to Tonight’s Democratic Debate

Tonight’s Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire was easily the best of the campaign so far. It was truly great.

The debate focused entirely on substance and the differences between the candidates. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders probably agree more than they disagree, but this debate highlighted where they diverge. It was very useful to anyone watching.

Both candidates did a great job. It was an evenly-matched fight but Sanders kept Clinton on the defensive for most of the debate. With the exception of foreign policy, it was primarily fought on Sanders terrain. By that measure, he won. But Clinton also did her best to use everything in her opposition research file against Sanders.

Of their weaknesses, Clinton still hasn’t figured out how to answer the charge that she’s in the pocket of Wall Street. Sanders still hasn’t figured out he needs to come up with a coherent foreign policy view. In the end, the debate was probably a draw.

The real winners were Democratic voters. Anyone who watched learned a lot. It made the Republican debates look like over-produced game shows.

One final thought: It was easy to forget the moderators, Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow, were even there tonight. They asked the questions and let the candidates go at it. It was the model for all political debates.

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