The winners and losers of the 1st Democratic presidential debate

Post debate expert Eric Soufer worked on presidential campaigns for John Edwards and Barack Obama and was a top adviser to former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Now a top political operative at Tusk Strategies, he rated the 10 Democrats who took part in the first 2020 debate Wednesday night. “Warren had the highest expectations going in and she exceeded them every step of the way,” Soufer said. “She connected empathy with policy with execution, and that’s extraordinarily difficult to do.” “De Blasio exceeded exceedingly low expectations,” he added. “He clearly expressed his progressive values and vision, and — as a candidate people didn’t know or didn’t like very much — I think you’re going to start to see that change.”

Mayor De Blasio:
Strong performance, but still lacks the big idea needed to break out in a big field — like his prekindergarten initiative in 2013. I was amazed by how little he tried to leverage his executive experience.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan:
It’s time for him to gracefully exit the stage. He can’t accept that he already lost the fight over the direction of the party.

Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro:
A good, standout performance as the young, energetic candidate in a primary where age will be an issue.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker:
Death by a thousand platitudes. His riff about living in Newark has gone stale.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren:
Strong, erudite and the only one who could effectively explain why the economy isn’t working for everyone. She’s clearly leading this pack.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke:
Surprisingly cautious and clearly uncomfortable. He failed to connect with the audience and took more arrows from his opponents than anyone else. It was painful to watch.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar:
Showed that she’d be a formidable, moderate nominee, but she is still struggling to lay out a compelling rationale for her candidacy.

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard:
Missed opportunity to stand out as the foreign-policy candidate despite her military credentials. She could not muster specifics on any foreign-policy question.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee:
Really strong and effective emphasis on organized labor, renewable energy and jobs. He was the only one to lean into his executive-leadership experience.

Ex-Maryland Rep. John Delaney
Sounds like someone still running for Congress.

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