CNN hosted the Democratic presidential candidates for a friendly town hall forum at Drake University in Des Moines last night. Chris Cuomo served as the moderator as the candidates appeared in turn to answer questions from the audience. Cuomo’s chumminess with the candidates suggests that for CNN the event was all in the family.
I would have suffered through it for Power Line readers, but I forgot about it, and I can’t find a complete video of the event. Video of the opening portion of the forum featuring Bernie Sanders is posted here (a little over 25 minutes). The opening included Cuomo’s introduction describing the screening of questions from the audience. Cuomo emphasizes that the candidates were not advised of the questions. The opening segment with Hillary Clinton is posted here (about 11 minutes). For Power Line readers I have suffered through the opening 25-minute segment featuring Sanders and the first clip featuring Clinton. A set of 12 video clips from the forum is accessible here.
At 7:00 of the opening Sanders video, in response to the first audience question, Sanders discusses what socialism or democratic socialism means to him. In his 90-second response, he supported free college and economic security for all while opposing the billionaire class. What democratic socialism means to him requires substantial translation. Whatever it is, I think it represents Democratic Party orthodoxy. Sad but true. In response to the next question, he advances his argument in favor of “Medicare for all.” Here he speaks to the heart of the Democratic Party. Again, sad but true.
Quotable Sanders quote at 15:50: “We gotta put what I am doing in context.”
At 5:00 of the opening Clinton segment, Taylor Gipple, leaning toward Sanders, asks Clinton why her supporters lack the enthusiasm of Sanders supporters and observes: “I’ve had from quite a few people my age that they think you’re dishonest.” Ouch. “Hmmm,” she responds. Where is the enthusiasm of her supporters? “I think it depends on who you’re talking to.”
Quotable Clinton quote at 6:00: “Look, I’ve been around a long time. People have thrown all kinds of things at me and, you know, I can’t keep up with it. I just keep going forward. They fall by the wayside. They come up with these outlandish things. They make these charges. I just keep going forward because there’s nothing to it. They throw all this stuff at me and I’m still standing…You have to ask yourself why are they throwing all this stuff? Because I’ve been on the front lines of progress since I was your age.” That is her theory of the case and it is worth your time to take in her answer in its entirety. Indeed, I urge you to take a look. Like the prospect of being hanged in a fortnight, it will concentrate your mind wonderfully.
Well, if you choose to spare yourself the pain, you can turn to Stephen Collinson’s CNN recap (including a brief highlight video), and Lesley Clark’s McClatchy report. NR’s Brendan Bordelon provides his assessment (he thinks Sanders scored) and John Podhoretz does likewise (he finds Hillary overcaffeinated). I agree with the contrary assessment of Frida Ghitis.
The Weekly Standard’s Jim Swift highlights the question served up by Brett Rosenberg to Clinton in the video below. Did this event partake of a professional wrestling bout’s staged quality? Rosenberg framed his question this way: “I can see why they gave you this question…I just wanted to know which of our previous presidents has inspired you most and why…”