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What You Missed While Not Watching the First Democratic Debate

14 minute read

-1 minutes. You love the countdown clock, so tidy and definitive on the edge of your cable television screen, telling you when the fun finally begins. A real, honest-to-God Democratic presidential campaign debate is upon us, the likes of which we haven’t seen in more than seven years. It will start so soon, with Hillary Clinton still on stage. Watch the minutes tick. Now the countdown clock comes to zero.

0 minutes. Except it doesn’t. The debate hall is still in preamble, as 8:30 p.m. EST arrives. The crowd is still getting revved up. Then graphics are rolling. Then CNN’s Anderson Cooper is coming out to do intros. Then the candidates are introduced one at a time. Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee comes out first, wearing a tie that looks like pine tree vomit. He is followed by former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who puts his hands together like a praying choirboy as he steps the stage. Clinton is next, then Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has combed his normally unruly hair down, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who has tightened his collar. Everyone shakes each others hands, except no one shakes the hands of Chafee or Webb.

10 minutes. Now Sheryl Crow is singing the national anthem. She struggles with the high notes. O’Malley is a musician, and he would have hit them, but no one ever gives O’Malley a break. That’s the whole thing with him. He looks like Woody from Toy Story, talks like a cross between Fred Rogers and Kermit the Frog, and just can’t get no respect. CNN decides it’s time to take a commercial break.

17 minutes. Never pay attention to the countdown clock again. The countdown clock is a lie. You can’t trust it. It will betray you like every other American institution. “There is certainly a lot of excitement in the room tonight,” Cooper says. Maybe that’s because they are in Vegas, where there are no clocks in any rooms. They have no idea what has happened to countdown clock credibility.

See Bernie Sanders' Career in Photographs

Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders (R), member of the steering committee, stands next to George Beadle, University of Chicago president, who is speaking at a Committee On Racial Equality meeting on housing sit-ins. 1962.Special Collections Research Center/University of Chicago Library
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
A photo taken on July 22, 2015 of Bernie Sanders and his son is seen in an old clip from an alternative newspaper called the Vermont Freeman in Burlington, VT.The Washington Post/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders in his office after winning his first election as the mayor of Burlington, Vt. on Sept. 15, 1981.Donna Light—AP
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders, right, greeted voters at a Burlington polling place on March 1, 1983 in Burlington, Vt.Donna Light—AP
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders and his campaign celebrating after his mayoral re-election circa 1983 in Burlington, Vt.Courtesy of Bernie Sanders Campaign
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders recording his singing in a studio Nov. 20, 1987 in Burlington, Vt.Toby Talbot—AP
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane O'Meara in Washington circa 1991.Courtesy of Bernie Sanders Campaign
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders, James Jeffords and Patrick Leahy toast to the passing of the Northeast Dairy Compact on June 14, 2006 in Montpelier, Vt.Toby Talbot—AP
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders officially announces his candidacy for U.S. Senate on May 19, 2006, at the Unitarian Church in Burlington, Vt. Alden Pelett—AP
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders and the other members of the Vermont Congressional delegation at the annual lighting of U.S. Capitol Christmas on Dec. 5, 2007 in Washington.Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks during a rally in support of Social Security with Sen. Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders on March 28, 2011 in Washington.Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Rep. Steve Cohen and Bernie Sanders attend a rally near the reflection pool, held by 350.org to protest the amount of money members of Congress receive from the fossil fuel industry on Jan. 24, 2012. Tom Williams—Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders at the signing ceremony of Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act on Aug. 7, 2014 in Belvoir, Va.Alex Wong—Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders waits to speak at a rally to advocate for an increase in pay to $15 USD per hour, as part of a "Fight for $15" labor effort on April 22, 2015 in Washington.Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders shakes Colleen Green's hand as he leaves a town hall meeting on May 11, 2015. in Charlottesville, Va.Jay Paul— Reuters
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders kisses his wife, Jane O'Meara, before officially announcing his candidacy for the U.S. presidency during an event at Waterfront Park May 26, 2015 in Burlington, Vt. Win McNamee—Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders delivers remarks at a town meeting at the South Church May 27, 2015 in Portsmouth, N.H.Win McNamee—Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference to discuss legislation to restore pension guarantees for thousands of retired union workers on June 18, 2015 in Washington.Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders kisses his wife Jane O'Meara during a campaign event on Aug. 10, 2015 in Los Angeles.Bloomberg/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders speaks to a primarily Latino audience during a campaign stop at the Muscatine Boxing Club on Sept. 4, 2015 in Muscatine, Iowa.Bloomberg/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders and Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, listen to a prayer during a Liberty University Convocation on Sept. 14, 2015 in Lynchburg, Va.Bloomberg/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, and his wife Jane O’Meara, wave to the crowd as he is announced onstage to speak to supporters during a campaign rally on Sept. 14, 2015 in Manassas, Va.Cliff Owen—AP
Bernie Sanders - Career in Pictures
Bernie Sanders joins Cornell William Brooks in a march with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on Sept. 15, 2015 from Selma, Ala. to Washington.Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

18 minutes. The candidates introduce themselves. Chafee starts weird: “Not only will Americans be electing a new president next year, we also will be electing a world leader.” What does that mean? Is he taking a bold stand against those who believe U.S. presidents are not world leaders? He tells his story, beginning as a mayor, rising to become a Senator and settling on a single-term as governor. He leaves out the fact that he left office with 25% approval in his state. “I believe in prosperity through peace,” he says. Why not?

20 minutes. Webb gets his chance. He lists off his five daughters’ names, and talks about the blood he shed in Vietnam fighting as a Marine. O’Malley talks about his kids and then offers expected clichés. “Our middle class is shrinking,” he says. “Our economy isn’t money, it’s people.” Then it’s Sanders’ turn, and he launches into his stump about “millionaires and billionaires” and all the bad they are doing to working people.

24 minutes. “I’m Hillary Clinton,” says Hillary Clinton, in case you didn’t know. Then she reduces her entire stump speech to a few paragraphs. Raise wages. Equal pay. Close loopholes. Invest in infrastructure. Make the tax system fairer. Basically all the focus-group tested talking points from Democratic politics, in super short Cliff Notes.

30 minutes. “It is time to start the debate,” says Cooper. Next time, put Cooper in charge of the countdown clock. We’ve all wasted half an hour. The first question is a doozy though. To Clinton: “Will you say anything to get elected?”

See the 2016 Candidates' Campaign Launches

Sen. Ted Cruz kicks off his campaign for 2016 Republican presidential nominee at Liberty University's Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va. on March 23, 2015. (
Sen. Ted Cruz kicked off his campaign for 2016 Republican presidential nomination at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. on March 23.Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
Presidential Campaign Launch Rand Paul
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul launched his bid for the Republican nomination at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville on April 7. Supporters held signs with the slogan "Defeat the Washington Machine / Unleash the American Dream."Amy Harris—Corbis
Presidential Campaign Launch Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her campaign in a YouTube video posted April 12 that has been seen nearly 4.5 million times. One boy featured in the video boasted about playing a fish in a school play.Hillary For America
Presidential Campaign Launch Marco Rubio
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced his campaign for the Republican nomination during a rally at the Freedom Tower in Miami on April 13. He took a drink of water during the speech, a callback to his State of the Union response in 2013.Wilfredo Lee—AP
Presidential Campaign Launch Bernie Sanders
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his bid for the Democratic nomination across the street from the U.S. Capitol on April 30, 2015. The backdrop was unusual, since most candidates rail against Washington.Jonathan Ernst—Reuters
Presidential Campaign Launch Ben Carson
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson announced his bid for the Republican nomination at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts May 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The launch featured a gospel choir covering Eminem's "Lose Yourself."Bill Pugliano—Getty Images
Presidential Campaign Launch Carly Fiorina
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced her campaign for the Republican nomination in a conference call on May 4, then went on "Good Morning America" to talk to George Stephanopoulos.Lou Rocco—Getty Images
Huckabee Presidential Campaign Launch
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced his campaign at a community college in his hometown of Hope, Ark., on May 5. Singer Tony Orlando (right) performed.Left: Danny Johnston; Right: Matt Sullivan—Getty Images
George Pataki Republican 2016
Republican presidential candidate and former New York Governor George Pataki (C) greets supporters after formally announcing his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in Exeter, N.H. on May 28, 2015. Dominick Reuter—Reuters
Lincoln Chafee Democrat 2016
Former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee announces his candidacy for the democratic presidential nomination at George Mason University in Arlington, Va. on June 3, 2015.Win McNamee—Getty Images
Lindsey Graham Republican 2016
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham announces his 2016 presidential candidacy in Central, S.C. on June 1, 2015. Erik S. Lesser—EPA
Martin O'Malley Democrat 2016
Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is joined by his wife Katie O'Malley (R) as he announces his intention to seek the Democratic presidential nomination during a speech at Federal Hill Park in Baltimore on May 30, 2015. Jim Bourg—Reuters
Rick Perry Texas Republican 2016
Former Texas governor Rick Perry announces his candidacy for Republican presidential nominee at an event held at Addison Airport in Addison, Texas on Thursday, June 4, 2015.Louis DeLuca—Dallas Morning News/Corbis
Jeb Bush Campaign Launch
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves on stage as he announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination during an event at Miami-Dade College - Kendall Campus in Miami on June 15 , 2015.Joe Raedle—Getty Images
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Trump holds up his financial statement as he formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination at Trump Tower in New York
Donald Trump holds up his financial statement showing his net worth as he formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during an event at Trump Tower in New York City on June 16, 2015. Brendan McDermid—Reuters
Republican presidential candidate and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in Kenner
Republican presidential candidate and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in Kenner, La. on June 24, 2015. Jonathan Bachman—Reuters
Republican U.S. presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in New Jersey
Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally at Livingston High School in Livingston, N.J. on June 30, 2015. Brendan McDermid—Reuters
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Announces His Candidacy For President
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker greets supporters after announcing that he will seek the Republican nomination for president in Waukesha, Wis. on July 13, 2015 . Scott Olson—Getty Images
John Kasich 2016
Ohio Governor John Kasich arrives on stage to formally announce his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally in Columbus, Ohio on July 21, 2015. Aaron P. Bernstein—Reuters

31 minutes. “Well, actually, I have been very consistent,” Clinton answers, which suggests the answer may be yes. Then she tries to explain her changes in position as natural evolutions, in response to facts.

32 minutes. Cooper won’t let up. He points out that she has described herself in the past year as both “being kind of moderate and center” and taking “a back seat to no one when it comes to progressive values.” This might fluster a lesser candidate, but Clinton is unflappable. “I’m a progressive. But I’m a progressive who likes to get things done,” she says. The crowd erupts in applause.

33 minutes. So Cooper tries Sanders. “How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?” he asks. Sanders gives his standard answer, which is basically, Scandanavia is awesome! “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway,” he says.

36 minutes. Clinton won’t let this slide. She has come to rumble. “We are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America,” she says. This means that she loves the USA more, and it is not going to elect some Swede-loving socialist, when there is a Denmark-loving Capitalist like her in the race. Or something like that.

38 minutes. Now Chafee gets a Cooper stinger. “You’ve only been a Democrat for little more than two years. Why should Democratic voters trust you won’t change again?” That is followed by an assault on fortress O’Malley, the former mayor of Baltimore: “Why should Americans trust you with the country when they see what’s going on in the city that you ran for more than seven years?” Then a zinger for Webb: “In 2006, you called affirmative action ‘state-sponsored racism.’” The candidates all have answers. But the questions are the thing that will be remembered.

43 minutes. Time to talk guns, which turns into time to attack Sanders, who comes from a gun-loving state. First Cooper comes at him, then Clinton, who attacks him for voting to give legal immunity for gun manufacturers. “Everybody else has to be accountable, but not the gun manufacturers,” she says of Sander’s position. “And we need to stand up and say: Enough of that.” She has come to fight and is landing punches. Sanders barely fights back, saying something about rural states and the need to build consensus. And he has a D- rating from the National Rifle Association.

48 minutes. O’Malley wants to get in on the action, so he accuses Sanders of pandering. “I have an F from the NRA, Senator,” O’Malley says. “I don’t think I am pandering. But you have not been in the United States Congress,” Sanders shoots back. “Well, maybe that’s a healthy thing,” O’Malley responds, for the win.

51 minutes. Webb is getting restless with all the other candidates talking. When Cooper tries to cut him off in his gun answer because he has gone over time, he gets punchy. “May I?” Webb says to Cooper. “People are going back and forth here for 10 minutes here.” Then he keeps talking. You don’t put Jim Webb in a corner, even if he is at 0.9% in the polls.

52 minutes. Foreign policy time. Sanders wins early by calling Syria “a quagmire in a quagmire,” the Russian nesting doll of swamp metaphors, or something. All the candidates basically say what you would expect about the Iraq war being a mistake. O’Malley, Chafee and Sanders gang up on Clinton for her vote in favor of the Iraq war. “People feel like a lot of our legislators got railroaded in a war fever and by polls,” says O’Malley.

60 minutes. Webb is getting more and more impatient. “Anderson, can I come into this discussion at some point?” he says. “I’ve been standing over here for about ten minutes, trying.” Cooper makes him wait more. Clinton offers her comeback to O’Malley for criticizing her Iraq war vote. “I have to say, I was very pleased when Governor O’Malley endorsed me for president in 2008, and I enjoyed his strong support in that campaign,” she says. “And I consider him, obviously, a friend.” This is a brilliant counter. She just cut him down with a hug.

61 minutes. It is clear that Clinton is alone on stage playing at her level. Sanders has been on defense. O’Malley is too smooth and rehearsed to land his punches. Webb is obsessed with equal time. And it’s not clear why Chafee is even there, besides the stuff about the President also being a world leader. Meanwhile, Clinton is calmly laying out the rationale for a no-fly zone in Syria. “I’m trying to figure out what leverage we have to get Russia to the table,” she says. “You know, diplomacy is not about getting to the perfect solution. It’s about how you balance the risks.” They are the pupils. She is the teacher.

62 minutes. Webb finally gets to talk. He is asked about Libya and he argues that the Iran nuclear deal led indirectly to the Russian military involvement in Syria. Then he says the real problem is China. The speaking time frustration has him all off. He is trying to shove too much into a single answer. Cooper moves to shut him down for going over time. “I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes,” Webb shoots back. “I will say this.” So he does.

63 minutes. Strangely, Sanders argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a mistake in going to Syria, because of the potential for public opinion to turn against him in Russia. The answer does not demonstrate insight into the physics of the Russian democracy, such as it is.

See the 2016 Candidates Looking Very Presidential

Values Voters Summit
Sen. Ted Cruz is surrounded by stars and stripes at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on September 26, 2014. Mark Peterson—Redux
USA - Hillary Clinton speaks at Iowa Senator Tom Harken'a annual Steak Fry
Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton gazes pensively into the distance at Iowa Senator Tom Harken'a annual Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa on September 14, 2014.Brooks Kraft—Corbis for TIME
Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush flashes a power watch before giving his keynote address at the National Summit on Education Reform in Washington on Nov. 20, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP
Sen. Bernie Sanders Launches Presidential Bid In Vermont
Bernie Sanders waves to supporters after officially announcing his candidacy for the U.S. presidency during an event at Waterfront Park in Burlington, Vermont, on May 26, 2015.Win McNamee—Getty Images
Political Theatre
Chris Christie New Jersey Governor Chris Christie strikes a presidential power stance at the ceremony for the opening of the 206 bypass in Hillsborough, New Jersey on October 28, 2013.Mark Peterson—Redux
Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina listens to her introduction from the side of the stage at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015.
Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina listens to her introduction from the side of the stage at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015. Jim Young—Reuters
Georgia Senate Candidate David Perdue Campaigns With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Rand Paul Sen. Rand Paul works a crowd during a campaign stop on October 24, 2014 in McDonough, Georgia. Jessica McGowan—Getty Images
Rick Perry
Rick Perry Texas Gov. Rick Perry looks powerfully patriotic during the National Anthem before an NCAA college football game on Nov. 27, 2014, in College Station, Texas.David J. Phillip—AP
Bobby Jindal
Bobby Jindal Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal looks to the future during The Family Leadership Summit on Aug. 9, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall—AP
Martin O'Malley
Martin O'Malley Maryland Governor Martin OíMalley ponders decorating ideas in front of his possible future home on CBS's Face the Nation on Feb. 23, 2014. Chris Usher—AP
Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio Sen. Marco Rubio looks determined the morning after the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. on January 29, 2014.Melissa Golden—Redux
Ben Carson
Ben CarsonBen Carson at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference on March 8, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP
Barack Obama, Jim Webb
Jim Webb Retiring Sen. Jim Webb imitates the presidential wave during a rally in Virginia Beach, Va. on Sept. 27, 2012.Steve Helber—AP
John Kasich, Election
John Kasich Ohio Gov. John Kasich practices his presidential victory pose at the Ohio Republican Party celebration on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. Tony Dejak—AP
Conservative Political Action Conference
Rick Santorum Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum looks resolute at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 7, 2014. Brooks Kraft—Corbis
Scott Walker
Scott Walker Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker practices the presidential point on March 3, 2014 in Milwaukee. Jeffrey Phelps—AP
Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee fine-tunes his presidential oratory at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md. on March 7, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP
Former Rhode Island Governor Chafee poses for a selfie with a student after announcing he will seek the Democratic nomination to be U.S. president during an address to the GMU School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs in Arlington
Lincoln Chafee, Former Rhode Island Governor, poses for a selfie with a student after announcing he will seek the Democratic nomination for president in Arlington, Va. on June 3, 2015. Jonathan Ernst—Reuters
FILE: Lindsey Graham To Run For President
Lindsey Graham Lindsey Graham announced his plans to join the 2016 presidential race.Alex Wong—Getty Images
Former New York governor George Pataki listens to a question at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire, in this April 17, 2015 file photo. Pataki on May 28, 2015 entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, joining a crowded field of candidates vying to retake the White House for their party. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files
George Pataki Former New York governor George Pataki listens to a question at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire, in this April 17, 2015 file photo.Brian Snyder—Reuters

68 minutes. Cooper asks Sanders to explain how he can be Commander in Chief when he applied for conscientous objector status during the Vietnam War. “I’m not a young man today. When I was a young man, I strongly opposed the war in Vietnam,” he said. “Not the brave men like Jim who fought in that war, but the policy which got us involved in that war.” Then he says, “I am not a pacifist.”

72 minutes. Cooper asks everyone to go around and name the greatest national security threat. Smart question. Chafee says “chaos in the Middle East.” O’Malley says Iran, the Islamic State and global warming, which is a bit of a hedge. Clinton says rogue nuclear material. Sanders says climate change. And Webb has a complex three-part answer, that includes China, mass cyber-attacks and the Middle East.

76 minutes. After a commercial break, it’s time to talk Clinton emails. She has a well-prepared answer that takes responsibility, attacks the partisanship of her Congressional investigators, declares her defiance—“I am still standing”—and quickly pivots to a question no one asked about how to make college more affordable.

79 minutes. Cooper tries again to make email news, but Sanders interrupts, and comes to her defense. “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails,” he says. Biggest applause of the night.

80 minutes. Chafee, however, is not ready to give up on the emails. He questions whether she has “the best in ethical standards.”

81 minutes. “Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?” asks Cooper. “No,” Clinton says, like a gangster.

82 minutes. Here comes the most complex question of the night, mainly because of the cryptic way it is asked, as a false binary choice meant to expose centuries of discrimination: “Do black lives matter or do all lives matter?” The candidates navigate the minefield, with different answers that more or less acknowledge the problem and propose solutions. Before he answers though, Webb complains again about the time he has been allowed to speak.

90 minutes. Time to talk financial regulation. Some back and forth between Clinton and Sanders is blunted by the fact that Sanders won’t really attack Clinton directly.

98 minutes. Chafee is asked why he voted to repeal Glass-Steagall, the regulation that once prevented commercial banks from mingling with investment banks. And suddenly his entire not-so-serious candidacy seems to implode. “The Glass-Steagall was my very first vote, I’d just arrived, my dad had died in office, I was appointed to the office, it was my very first vote,” he says. In other words, Chafee admits that he was promoted by dint of his bloodline for a job he was not able to handle. “Promotion through parentage” makes for a lousy campaign slogan. Even worse than “Prosperity through peace.”

105 minutes. Deep dive on a whole bunch of issues, from domestic surveillance to Social Security to extending federal benefits to undocumented immigrants. There is some disagreement about just how harshly to treat Edward Snowden. Chafee struggles to explain his vote for the Patriot Act.

115 minutes. Cooper asks everyone to say how their administration would be different than a third term of Obama. Chafee says something about the Middle East. O’Malley talks about regulating Wall Street. Sanders uses the word “revolution.” Webb chuckles about Sanders’ dreams of revolution. Clinton wins the round again by saying, “I think being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we’ve had up until this point, including President Obama.” She follows with a detailed list of policy differences.

119 minutes. Cooper announces that some of the candidates have tried marijuana along with “probably everybody in this room.” He promises to delve deeper after a commercial break. This explains CNN’s exclusive use of red and blue gel lights on the audience.

124 minutes. Cooper makes a reference to Clinton rushing off stage for a pee break during commercials. “You know, it does take me a little longer. That’s all I can say,” Clinton explains, but she is not embarrassed that her apparently urgent urination was just discussed publicly before millions. Give her more points.

126 minutes. Discussion of dynasty. Clinton parries it all flawlessly. “I certainly am not campaigning to become president because my last name is Clinton,” she says. “I’m campaigning because I think I have the right combination of what the country needs, at this point, and I think I can take the fight to the Republicans.”

135 minutes. After more talk of climate change, Cooper gets to the weed, listing off the candidate’s claimed drug histories as he goes. Sanders smoked a little. Clinton missed her chance. No real news is made, except that Sanders says he would probably vote for recreational marijuana in Nevada, and Clinton says she is not ready to have an opinion on it.

143 minutes. After another break, the best question of the night: Which enemy are you most proud of? Chafee says the coal lobby. O’Malley says the NRA. Clinton loves the question. “Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians, probably the Republicans,” she says. Sanders says Wall Street. Webb says a man who tried to kill him in Vietnam, “but he’s not around right now to talk to.” He says this with a smile on his lips.

145 minutes. The candidates get closing statements, but the dynamic remains the same. Clinton is just better at this. Sanders is doing his thing. O’Malley has all the pieces but none of the connections. Chafee is weird. And Webb is unsatisfied. There has been talk about adding more Democratic debates in the coming months, but as the night draws to a close, it is not immediately clear what they would accomplish.

Read Next: Read the Full Text of the Primetime Democratic Debate

See the Covers of the 2016 Presidential Hopefuls' Memoirs

Hillary Clinton Hard Choices memoir
The cover of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2014 book "Hard Choices" is a classic of the political memoir genre: The politician's face, front and center with a strong but vague title beneath.
Carly Fiorina tough choices memoir
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina's 2007 book "Tough Choices" followed the same playbook as Clinton's, even down to the similar titles.
ben carson one nation memoir
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson's 2014 book "One Nation" is a variation on the theme, the crossed arms and the subtitle underlining the message, since he's not been a politician before.
george pataki where i come from autobiography
Former New York Gov. George Pataki's 1998 autobiography, "Pataki," presents him as such a towering figure that he doesn't even need a regular title.
Marco Rubio American Son memoir
Other politicians go for a softer touch with a more autobiographical book to help voters learn more about who they are, as in Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's 2013 memoir, "An American Son."
Lindsey Graham My Story ebook memoir
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham's 2015 e-book, "My Story," takes a similar approach.
Rick Santorum autobiography memoir
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's 2005 book, "Rick Santorum," is less autobiographical, but the cover also goes for the soft touch.
Mike Huckabee God Guns Grits Gravy memoir
Some books zero in on a specific image. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 2015 book, "God, Guns, Grits and Gravy" and the photo of him, tieless, in a pastoral scene, sells him as an avatar of rural America.
Rick Perry On My Honor memoir
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's 2014 book defends the Boy Scouts, reinforcing the fact that he's an Eagle Scout and a cultural conservative.
Donald Trump The Art of the Deal book
And business mogul Donald Trump's 1988 book, "The Art of the Deal," sells his image as a dealmaker so much that he still references it today.
John Kasich Stand for Something memoir
Other candidates aim to show they are leaders, as in Ohio Gov. John Kasich's 2006 book, "Stand for Something."
Rand Paul Taking a Stand memoir
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's 2015 book, "Taking a Stand," goes a similar route, though the subtitle, "Moving Beyond Partisan Politics," gives it a slightly different spin.
Books Ted Cruz
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's 2015 book also pitches him as a truth teller, with a casual portrait and the title "A Time for Truth."
Lincoln Chafee Against the Tide memoir
Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee's 2010 book, "Against the Tide," also promotes him as willing to go it alone, in this case referencing his vote against the Iraq war.
Scott Walker Unintimidated memoir
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's 2014 book, "Unintimidated," goes the same route, promoting his fight against labor unions.Penguin Group/AP
Bobby Jindal Leadership and Crisis memoir
And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's 2010 book, "Leadership and Crisis," adds a photo of first responders to bring to mind natural disasters.
Bernie Sanders Outsider at the House memoir
But the cover of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' 1998 memoir shows that he really does go his own way. It breaks all the design rules, looking more like an airport thriller.

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