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Recap: The Third Democratic Presidential Debate l Shlomo Rudman

The top ten Democratic presidential candidates based on polling and donor numbers squared off Thursday night in the third presidential primary debates. The event was held at Texas Southern University hosted by ABC News anchors George Stephanopoulos and David Muir, correspondent Linsey Davis, and Univision host Jorge Ramos. The debate focused on the most contentious issues facing the country, specifically gun control, immigration, health care, racial inequality and trade. Most of the candidates were trying to set themselves apart in an attempt to get them closer in the polls to former vice president Joe Biden, the clear frontrunner so far.

With the Democratic primaries beginning in less than five months, candidates lagging far behind Biden seemed eager to attack him as outdated and not mentally sharp. Julian Castro took repeated shots at Biden, even suggesting he was forgetting things he said just minutes before, which caused the crowd to gasp in shock. Cory Booker defended Castro following the debate, saying questions regarding Biden’s age were legitimate.

What was most obvious from the debate was the ongoing internal conflict in the Democratic party over who should be leading it, and what philosophy that person should adhere to. Biden is seen by many Democratic base voters as an elder statesman, thoughtful and pragmatic, while some of the other candidates, such as Booker, Castro, and O’Rourke represent the new faces of the party, making brash proclamations and pushing more radically liberal policies.

This rift was seen most clearly when South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg rebuked Joe Biden and Julian Castro for their onstage bickering, saying that it was just such childishness which Americans hate about Washington politics. Castro shot back “Yeah, that’s called the Democratic primary election. That’s called an election.”

The greatest surprise of the three debates that have been conducted so far is the amount of times that the progressive candidates have been attacking former President Barack Obama, a Democratic darling, especially over his policies regarding illegal immigration. Many of the current candidates support far laxer rules and enforcement of existing immigration laws, accusing Biden of supporting Obama’s policies, which they say were unfair to immigrants.

In all, none of the candidates set themselves apart and made enough of an impact to cause primary voters to choose them over Joe Biden, who has led the race since he joined. The greatest winner of the debate may be Donald Trump, who enjoys massive support within the Republican party while Democrats continue to search for their identity heading into the 2020 general election season.

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