Overview of the First Democratic Presidential Debate

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By Ethan Partridge | Writer

October 22, 2015

On October 13 in Las Vegas, Nevada, the first Democratic Debate gave voters their first clear view of who their Democratic candidates would be for this coming election year.

Five candidates attended the debate, including Lincoln Chafee, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb, and each were able to make their points calmly and clearly, putting themselves in a good position for the race.

Right off the bat, CNN host Anderson Cooper bombarded the candidates with some tough questions, including positions on gun control and Russia’s current status in Syria. O’Malley was hit hardest on the issue of gun control and it’s link to violence because he was previously Mayor of Baltimore where the angry riots broke out earlier this year. Therefore, the question kept coming back to whether or not he would be able to successfully lower gun violence in the country, or at the very least suppress it. Even after being hit hard with some tough topics, O’Malley was able to promote himself on the issue after this attack by referencing his link to the National Rifle Association and how he was able to convince them not to petition the strict laws he created as governor of Maryland.

Despite their prominent status in the current race, both Sanders and Clinton were also hit hard from all sides regarding how their actions from the past will affect their actions in the future. Chafee questioned what Clinton’s actions in response to Russia’s current involvement in Syria would be due to her support of the invasion of Iraq some years before, and Bernie Sander’s clear statement of him being a “democratic socialist” put them low on the initial favor of the debate. However, both were able to save themselves from the situation relatively well to continue with the debate.

Near the end of a break in the show, all five candidates were asked one question: What is the greatest threat to U.S. national security? Chafee, O’Malley, and Clinton all offered similar examples of nuclear warfare and the crisis in the Middle East, but Sanders shocked the crowd with his response. He responded that the biggest national problem was actually climate change, which rallied great support from the audience. Webb also offered an interesting response, stating that the biggest threat to immediate national security was the cyber war with China, and that efforts to stop it should be America’s biggest information protection priority.

One of the most controversial issues to arise from the debate was that social media voted Bernie Sanders as the clear winner of the debate while television news media voted the debate for Hilary Clinton. Regardless of who “won”, both candidates were clearly the top two at the end of the night.

Now that this first debate is over, but it’s only the beginning of the end for these five people, and they’ll have to stay in the game each round if they want to finish the race victorious.

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