The 9 greatest lines from the ninth Democratic debate

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In this Feb. 19, 2020, file photo, from left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate.  Photo by John Locher/AP

In this Feb. 19, 2020, file photo, from left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate. Photo by John Locher/AP

As of last Wednesday’s Democratic debate, the gloves have officially come off. The six true contenders for the party’s nomination (sorry, Tom Steyer) traded blows in a manner that would make Donald Trump blush. What started as a political discourse quickly turned into a complete roast-fest, ensuring us that what happened in Las Vegas was not going to stay there. So without further ado, allow me to count down the top nine “roasts” of this unintentional comedy show. 

9. “I’m the only one on this stage that actually got anything done on health care.” – Joe Biden

The former vice president had a well-prepared comeback to another vague Medicare For All proposal by Bernie Sanders. Biden’s use of the phrase “I’m the only one” was definitely stale by the end of the night, but I’m willing to give him some credit for his role in enacting Obamacare. Still, Biden was largely ignored by the moderators and other candidates, which is never a good sign at this point in the race. 

8. “I don’t think you look at Donald Trump and say we need someone richer in the White House.” –Amy Klobuchar

A clever jab at both the president and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg accounted for this Klobuchar classic. By adding Bloomberg to her tradition of attacking Trump, the Minnesota senator delivered this zinger with greater ease than I have seen from her before. Klobuchar was solid in this debate, but she will need a strong performance in South Carolina to restore the momentum she gained in New Hampshire. 

7. “If winning a race for Senate in Minnesota translated directly to becoming president, I would have grown up under the presidency of Walter Mondale.” – Pete Buttigieg 

Speaking of Minnesota senators, I was disappointed that this one did not get laughs from the audience. Mayor Pete did not intend to use this as the punchline in his response to Klobuchar’s “proven winner” argument, but it did make me chuckle.  

6. “Maybe it’s time for the working class of this country to have a little bit of power in Washington, rather than your billionaire campaign contributors.” – Bernie Sanders

Wine cave, anyone? As expected, Sanders continued his crusade against America’s ultra-wealthy, but this call to Pete Buttigieg was by far his strongest line of the night. Bernie is still the front-runner of this race, so continuing to take calculated debate risks should serve him well heading into the gauntlet of South Carolina and Super Tuesday. 

5. “It’s not a plan. It’s a PowerPoint. And Amy’s plan is even less. It’s like a Post-It note…  ‘Insert Plan Here.’” – Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren wants us to know that Buttigieg and Klobuchar have bad health care plans, and this is her way of telling us. The analogies are amusing; even Warren’s opponents were amused when she rattled this one off. Props to Klobuchar for being a good sport about it.

4. “The best-known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses.” –Michael Bloomberg

Considering Bloomberg’s historically awful performance, perhaps I should not place him this high on the list. But this line, a direct challenge to the hypocrisy of Bernie Sanders, was quite witty. Bernie attempted to fight back with his subsequent “tax haven” remark, but Bloomberg’s “New York City” answer quickly shut Sanders down. Unfortunately, Bloomberg dug a deep hole for himself in Las Vegas, so he’ll need a miracle to get back into this race. 

3. “Let’s put forward somebody who’s actually a Democrat.” – Pete Buttigieg 

This line is simple and effective, yet it makes a valid point. Buttigieg identifies the two greatest threats to a moderate Democratic ticket with his name on it: Sanders (who wants to move the party farther left) and Bloomberg (who wants to “buy” the election). The end of this storyline will be written by primary voters in the coming weeks, but Sanders currently holds the advantage. 

2. “No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.” – Elizabeth Warren

When you’re on a debate stage with Elizabeth Warren and you have called women “fat broads” and “horse-faced lesbians” in the past, there is simply nowhere to hide. She wasted no time in letting her feelings about Bloomberg be known. This exchange marked the beginning of the billionaire’s disastrous night. 

1. “I’ve been nice to some women.” – Elizabeth Warren

Ouch. If Warren’s campaign is not going to take off the way it looked as though it would last fall, she’s going to bring Bloomberg down with her. Her witty summarization of Bloomberg’s response to a question about sexual misconduct allegations characterized the nature of this debate. The stage in Las Vegas belonged to Warren; the other five candidates were just standing on it. Despite her strong debate performances, the Massachusetts senator faces a long climb after disappointing primary results. 

The earliest primaries conclude this weekend in South Carolina, and we will see several of these candidates drop out of the race soon. But with Super Tuesday only a week away, it is never too late for anyone to make an unlikely surge. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual writers in the opinion section do not reflect the views and opinions of The Daily Campus or other staff members. Only articles labeled “Editorial” are the official opinions of The Daily Campus.


Carson Swick is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at carson.swick@uconn.edu.

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