Back so soon? There are so many Democratic presidential hopefuls the first debate had to stretch into two nights. On Thursday, 10 contenders debated from Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
Thursday’s candidates included some political powerhouses, from former Vice President Joe Biden to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Also onstage were California Sen. Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, author Marianne Williamson, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, California Rep. Eric Swalwell and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.
The first debate’s memes, but on Thursday night, at least one candidate really wanted to talk about … New Zealand?
One early zinger came when Swalwell jabbed at Biden’s age (he’s 76) by citing a statement Biden made 32 years ago about passing the torch to a new generation of leaders. Biden’s retort that he’s “still holding on to that torch” also earned some jokes.
One of the more unusual candidates on stage was Williamson, who’s written numerous self-help and spiritually themed books. Not everyone was sure why she was there, and others had thoughts on what her policies might be. Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Sen. John McCain, tweeted, “Is Marianne Williamson a character from Clue?” Tweeted another, “Marianne Williamson would end illegal immigration with essential oils.”
Biden couldn’t stay out of the line of fire. One of the most heated exchanges of the night came when Harris confronted the former vice-president on racial issues and his past record on busing.
Tempers were raised, and Twitter reacted. “Kamala Harris had two things on her to-do list tonight,” cracked one Twitter user. “She crossed off the first. The second is “Take names.”
One of the odder responses came when Williamson said her first act as president would be to call New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to brag about how good the US is for children. Viewers were perplexed.