On a night when several
Warren, a senator from
On these issues and others,
"There are a lot of politicians who say, 'Oh, it's just not possible, we just can't do it ...' What they're really telling you is they just won't fight for it," Warren said of a government health plan for all in one of several moments when she promised to be a sweeping change agent.
In taking that stand, Warren staked out a position that aligns with Sen.
But both positions could open them to attack, and not just by
"I am just simply concerned about kicking half of America off of their health insurance in four years," Sen.
After Trump won the presidency in part by making huge promises,
Considering his starting position -- barely registering in most polls -- Castro may have scored the biggest gains.
The Texan steered the debate on immigration, one of the night's most charged issues. Several other candidates, including Booker, followed his call for decriminalizing unauthorized immigration.
"Stay tuned in," Castro told reporters immediately after the debate. "I'm the best hope that the party has to get the 29 electoral votes of this state of
DeBlasio, another candidate on the fringes in polls, also landed some much-needed attention, using his
Warren dominated the debate's foray into the economy, starting with an opening screed against inequality fueled by the government, pharmaceutical companies, and oil giants.
"When you've got a government, when you've got an economy, that does great for those with money and isn't doing great for everyone else, that is corruption, pure and simple," she said.
That's the message that has fueled her political career. What was more surprising was hearing other
As Trump boasts about the strength of the economy,
That strategy aims to undercut Trump's strongest reelection argument, but also shows how the president has touched a nerve and reshaped the political discussion.
Booker arrived looking for a moment to spark his campaign, and grabbed more speaking time than anyone else, according to news organizations tracking the debate.
His Google searches also spiked as he pushed his plan on guns, embraced Castro's call to change immigration laws, and spoke forcefully for stronger protections for the transgender community.
Throughout he wrapped his policy views in stories about living in a low-income, mostly minority city, introducing himself more as mayor of
"This is one of those nights where we think ... we had a lot of moments that showed America who I am," Booker told reporters afterward.
But Booker's most remarked-upon moment may have come when he wasn't talking -- just glaring at O'Rourke as the former congressman switched to speaking in Spanish.
In the press room after the event, Booker said to an aide (loud enough for reporters to hear) that he was looking that way because O'Rourke "butchered" his Spanish. He later eased up, saying his own Spanish isn't perfect either and that "Beto is an incredible Spanish speaker."
The glare would prove to be the least of O'Rourke's problems.
At several points O'Rourke served as a foil for rivals who seemed to view him as a soft target. In an exchange on immigration, Castro told his fellow Texan: "Do your homework on this issue."
For a candidate whose star has faded, this was the opposite of what he needed.
Perhaps the biggest surprises of the night came from what didn't happen. The 10
That may have been a function of the format; Biden was not on stage with the rest. That seemed likely to change Thursday night, when he stands alongside rivals including Sanders, Sen.
The debate solidified some policy positions, filled in a bit more of the Democratic economic message, and perhaps gave a few campaigns opportunities to raise their profiles in the coming weeks.
But with only one of the five leading candidates on stage (Warren), there wasn't a moment that seems likely to drastically reshape the race by itself.
As FiveThirtyEight analyst
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