Here are the winners and losers of the South Carolina Democratic debate
- Seven Democratic presidential candidates took the stage in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday night for the tenth debate of the 2020 Democratic primary - and the final debate before Super Tuesday.
- The contentious debate was characterized by lots of raised voices, cross-talk, and pointed attacks.
- Notably, the CBS News debate moderators were widely panned for failing to keep the candidates in line, for disjointed questioning, and for failing to ask about the coronavirus until more than an hour into the debate.
- Here are the winners and losers.
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Tensions and pressure ran high on Wednesday night during the last Democratic debate before Saturday's primary in Charleston, South Carolina and Super Tuesday next week.
The candidates followed through on their promises to go after one another on everything from policy to sexual harassment allegations.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent much of the night on defense, including in regard to his record as mayor, his comments about women, and his foreign policy positions.
Bloomberg was skewered during last Wednesday's Democratic debate in Nevada, where his opponents attacked his unprecedented spending on the race, treatment of women, and support for "stop and frisk" in New York City. His national approval rating took a hit as a result.
Tuesday's debate didn't go much better for Bloomberg. Warren again took him to task for comments he reportedly made about female employees decades ago, including allegedly telling a pregnant employee to have an abortion. And Sanders repeatedly attacked Bloomberg's billionaire status and unprecedented spending on his own campaign.
Bloomberg was forced to once again apologize for implementing the racially discriminatory stop and frisk policy, which was deemed unconstitutional in 2013, and was grilled on his efforts to limit the consumption of sugary drinks in New York City.
The debate moderators were also widely panned by reporters and other observers online.
Many condemned the moderators for allowing the candidates to talk over each other and speak longer than the 1 minute and 15 seconds they were allotted per answer.
Some were frustrated that the candidates weren't asked about the increasingly threatening Wuhan coronavirus until more than an hour into the debate. The CBS reporters and anchors were also criticized for asking Bloomberg about his efforts to limit the consumption of sugary drinks while he was mayor - before the candidates were asked about much more pertinent issues.
Republicans watching the debate also criticized the moderators' management of the candidates.
Warren had a strong performance on Tuesday night and was left virtually unscathed while she went on the attack against Bloomberg and Biden and promoted herself as the most effective progressive in the race.
Warren started off the debate by pressing Bloomberg to release his former female employees from non-disclosure agreements and calling Bloomberg the "riskiest" candidate in the race because of his controversial record. She also surfaced the allegation that the former mayor asked a pregnant female employee to have an abortion, and laid into Bloomberg for donating large sums to Republican candidates for office.
"I don't care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has, the core of the Democratic Party will never trust him," Warren said.
Tuesday's debate was widely perceived to be Sanders' to lose. The Vermont lawmaker has cemented his status as the frontrunner after winning the popular vote in all three primary contests so far, and the majority of delegates in two of those states: New Hampshire and Nevada.
This comes after Sanders was also spared much scrutiny at last week's debate in Nevada, as his opponents focused heavily on attacking former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the newcomer to the stage.
While Sanders faced a disproportionate number of attacks from his fellow candidates, he did a fairly good job of fending most of them off, especially compared to Bloomberg last week.
CBS needs this break more than the candidates. That was a chaotic start. The moderators need to step in more forcefully and regain control in the next segment.- Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) February 26, 2020
So, uh, the last debate also featured a lot of fighting but it seemed much more coherent? CBS moderators seem totally unable to keep things on track.- Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) February 26, 2020
Weak moderation puts women candidates at a disadvantage bc they're less likely to just wantonly scream over people who are already talking; it also rewards total psychopaths who are willing to bulldoze through people asking them to shut up- Elizabeth Bruenig (@ebruenig) February 26, 2020
We are 110 minutes into the debate and according to our calculations each candidate has spoken for 110 minutes.- James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) February 26, 2020
Donald Trump disarmed our ability to deal with a pandemic and is lying about it to try to calm markets. Can moderators maybe ask about that?- Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) February 26, 2020
Why are the candidates bringing up coronavirus before the moderators- Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) February 26, 2020
I'm curious why moderators are determined to ask the same questions in debate after debate rather than have the candidates respond to new developments.- Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 26, 2020
How would these candidates respond to the threat of the coronavirus?
I'm actually interested to hear the answer.
Nothing on war, nuclear weapons, China, coronavirus, trade, climate change. But sure, sugary drinks.- Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) February 26, 2020
This debate is so insanely disjointed. We've gone from health care, to charter schools, to reparations, to big gulps, to marijuana to Darpa to Naked Cowboys….- Sam Stein (@samstein) February 26, 2020
The moderators tonight pic.twitter.com/gt8BMOjUyi- Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) February 26, 2020