Wednesday's Democratic Debate Was a Knock-Down Drag-Out. Here's What You Missed.

Things got real heated, real fast.
August 1, 2019, 2:04pm
debate biden booker castro gillibrand

If you missed Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, here’s the short version: It was everybody vs. Joe Biden. But that wasn’t the whole thing.

Sure, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and, hell, even New York Mayor Bill de Blasio went after Biden. But if bashing Biden was the main event, the undercards featured Dems jostling with one another to move up the polls, as well as candidates doing their best to land a clean shot on President Donald Trump. So while Tuesday night’s debate featured front-running progressives Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren dunking on centrists, Wednesday’s offering was a bit more of a free-for-all.


But just like the night before, the intra-party squabbles produced some spicy exchanges. Here are six you should know about.

“Go easy on me, kid.”

Considering Harris went after him in the first debate, Biden knew what was coming on Wednesday. And when the California senator took the stage at the very beginning of the debate, Biden greeted Harris with a handshake and a simple plea that was picked up by their mics: “Go easy on me, kid.”

His hot mic request was not granted.

Soon enough, the two were clashing over one another’s health care plans.

Somewhere, Lysol executives are pissed off

That’s because Gillibrand gave some free advertising to their competitor Clorox.

She was asked about fighting climate change and took it as an opportunity for a jab at Trump.

“The first thing I’m going to do when I’m president, is I’m going to Clorox the Oval Office,” Gillibrand joked, which earned a big laugh from the audience in Detroit. “The second thing I’m going to do is I will re-engage on global climate change.”

READ: ‘Everybody’s talking about how terrible I am’ — Biden takes shots from all sides in debate

Gillibrand, whose campaign has struggled to gain momentum, uses the joke frequently on the campaign trail. But all of America got to hear the dig Wednesday night, and people seemed to love it.

Biden’s drinking the Kool-Aid — but does he know the flavor?

Booker had a field day trading blows with Biden, who tried to challenge the former Newark mayor on his criminal justice record during his tenure in that position from 2006 to 2013.

Booker struck back.


"Mr. Vice President, there's a saying in my community — you're dippin' into the Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor," Booker said to a raucous response from the crowd. “You need to come to the city of Newark and see the reforms we put in place.”

Keeping with the free advertising theme, Kool-Aid was quite happy to capitalize on the mention from Booker.

Harris tries to fend off Gabbard

Though Harris was back on the offensive with Biden, she had to defend herself from Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who called into question the senator’s record as California’s attorney general. Gabbard said Harris jailed 1,500 people for marijuana violations “then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana” and claimed that Harris “blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row.”

Harris didn’t quite answer those criticisms directly. Instead she defended her record of “actually doing the work,” rather than making "fancy speeches.”

“I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done,” she said. “And I am proud of that work.”

What’ve we learned here, Joe?

Julián Castro, former secretary of housing and urban development, often worked closely with Biden when he was vice president. But even he got in on the Biden-bashing fun.

READ: Booker slams Biden for embracing Obama when it’s convenient


The two candidates were locked in an exchange over immigration and Biden questioned why Casto hadn’t brought up his desire to decriminalize border crossings in the many meetings they attended together.

“First of all, Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned from the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t,” Castro fired back.

Biden turns on Gillibrand

The front-runner promised a more aggressive approach in the second round of debates and, for the most part, he delivered. Perhaps his spiciest exchange was with Gillibrand, who said that in 1981 he suggested a woman working outside the home can result in “the deterioration of family.”

Biden in turn implied that Gillibrand is an opportunist: she once championed him as a leader on gender equality, but now, he noted, she’s suddenly singing a different song.

“You came to Syracuse University with me and said, ‘It was wonderful, [that] I’m passionate … that women are treated equally,” Biden said. “I don’t know what’s happened except that you’re now running for president.”

Cover: Former Vice President Joe Biden gestures to Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)