Texas Tribune Fest 2015: Follow live updates from ‘Really, how conservative was the 84th session?’ panel

Follow live updates from panel discussion entitled “Really, how conservative was the 84th session?” featuring Paul Bettencourt, Konni Burton, Stepanie Klick, Matt Rinaldi and Jonathan Stickland. Panel starts Saturday at 4:25 p.m.

Texas Tribune Fest 2015: Follow ‘After Open Carry, Now What?’ live

Follow live updates from the Texas Tribune Fest panel on gun control and campus carry with Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo, C.J. Grisham, Texas Rep. Carol Alvarado, Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez and Texas Rep. Drew Springer. Panel starts Saturday at 3:05 p.m.

Texas Tribune Fest 2015: Follow live updates from abortion panel

Texas Tribune Fest 2015 health care programming features a “Texas v. Abortion” panel with Matt Krause, Chip Roy, Stepani Toti and Sarah Weddington. Panel starts at 3:05 p.m on Saturday.

Texas Tribune Fest 2015: Follow ‘One on one with Nancy Pelosi’ live

The Texas Tribune’s Abby Livingston sits down with U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi starting Saturday at 1:45 p.m. Follow live:

Texas Tribune Fest 2015: Follow ‘One on one with Dan Patrick’ live

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Evan Smith kick off Texas Tribune Fest 2015 Friday night at 7 p.m. Follow along with Statesman’s Chuck Lindell.

Texas Tribune Fest 2015: Follow live updates from immigration and border security panels

Saturday morning’s 9 a.m. kick-off keynote entitled “The Border and the Legislature” features Evan Bayh, Henry Cisneros, Kay Bailey Hutchison, John H. Sununu and moderator Julie Mason. Statesman political writer Jonathan Tilove will be live-tweeting:

“Homeland Security Begins at Home,” with Joaquin Castro, Henry Cuellar, Blake Farenthold, Beto O’Rourke, John Ratcliffe and moderator Julián Aguilar, begins at 11:10 a.m.

What’s in a meme? On Jason Villalba likening democratic socialist Bernie Sanders to a Nazi

Good morning Austin:

Here is something that Rep. Jason Villalba, the North Dallas Republican, tweeted off Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate.

villalba tweet


Hmmm. Wow. Uh oh.

About that meme.

Number 1 is true.

Bernie Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist.

But number two – and therefore number three –  are indisputably wrong.

Nazis were national socialists, but then again, Saddam Hussein’s elite troops were the Republican Guard. The Republicans were the left-wing government in Spain toppled by Francisco Franco’s Nationalists in the run-up to World War II. Neither of which has anything to do with the Republican Party.

Democratic socialists are not only not Nazis – who are usually and properly described as fascists and never described as democratic anything – but are more exactly in philosophy and history, the opposite and enemy of Nazis.

For more on what Sanders means when he says he’s a democratic socialist, read 8 questions about democratic socialism and Bernie Sanders’s vision for the United States, an excellent post-debate primer by Max Ehrenfreund of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

Here’s Ehrenfreund’s point 2:

Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist.” What does that mean?

This difference between socialism and democratic socialism is actually kind of important. First of all, Sanders isn’t talking about using government to take over large sections of the economy. He doesn’t want to make Comcast part of the government, for example. He’s also not talking about putting an end to the stock market and giving workers control over their companies. Some socialist countries, such as China and the Soviet Union, have sought to nationalize services under regimes that haven’t given their citizens much say in those decisions.

Sanders wants the government to pay for health care and college tuition, but those services would still be provided by a combination of public agencies and private organizations if Sanders got his way.

While Sanders thinks that changes should be made to the U.S. economy, he doesn’t envision doing away with the U.S. system of representative government — Congress, the Supreme Court, elections, all that sort of stuff. He believes in democracy. That’s why he calls himself a “democratic socialist.” In particular, as he repeated in Tuesday night’s debate, he wants to reform the U.S. democratic system to limit the influence that wealthy donors who give money to political campaigns have over the process.

In much of the world — in particular in a number of Western and northern European countries —Sanders would be regarded as a moderate. To get a sense of the way socialism works differently around the world, consider the availability of universal health insurance, conventionally a basic tenet of a “socialist” country.

There is essentially universal coverage in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom, where socialist philosophy is embraced by many parts of government. In the United States, where socialism is often a dirty word, health insurance has become quasi-universal since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act. About 10.4 percent of Americans are without coverage. And in China, which is nominally communist, many go without access to affordable care.

Add in the fact that Sanders’ father’s family was mostly wiped out during the Holocaust, and you’ve got the makings of one offensive meme.

Villalba’s tweet provoked considerable irritation and anger.

For example.

I was perplexed.

Villalba does like to tweet, but he seemed among the least likely Texas Republicans to call Bernie Sanders a Nazi.

JT Jason Villalba Ledge

Did he mean it? Did he so misunderstand the pertinent history? Did he not anticipate the reaction? Was he trying to outflank Rep. Molly White?

I talked to him yesterday evening and here was what he had to say.

Bernie Sanders  is actually self-described as a Democratic socialist and then to his left (I think he probably meant right, but no matter) are other people who are essentially soft socialists. Any Republican will tell you that, and any Republicans worth their salt believes that Hillary Clinton is a soft socialist, much like this president.

Now including the meme below it is something that struck me as humorous. I attached it and I tweeted it out. So is the history accurate in this? Of course not. Look, was I trying to make a connection between Sanders and the Nazi party? Absolutely not. I categorically reject any suggestion that that  is what I was intending to do. It was meant  just to point out that the Democratic Party, as we understand them today and as they were going through their debate, have exhibited a level of left-wing social engineering that we haven’t seen in our country in decades. And so that was my statement.

Now if you want to try to tie that to that meme I included as a sort of a  second-hand jokey-joke, that’s somebody else laying those intentions over what I was was thinking. But what I was saying was that on the stage tonight was a self-avowed democratic socialist along with a soft socialist, and I stand by that.

You have national socialists and democratic socialists and most people recognize the distinct difference. N-A-Z-I is national socialist. I realize it was a flip, glib sort of commentary on where we are.  Somehow, you invoke the Nazi meme and all of a sudden the Twittersphere breaks through. But  you know, if you’re  socialist, was Stalin any less horrific a leader in his country as a socialist? I don’t think so.

Socialism is wrong for America. It’s not what we want to see from our leadership. I stand by that statement.

Look, if there’s any suggestion for a moment that I was trying to compare Bernie Sanders or anyone in the Democratic Party with Nazis then I categorically deny that and reject that and would tell people who read the  Twitter at night to get their news and information should probably be a little less  focused on some of the bad history included in the memes and realize that it’s a medium to  sort of get broad-themed ideas out there and I stand by the broad-themed idea that the Democrats are on the wrong side of the debate in America today.

Where did he find that meme?

It was on a blog somewhere I don’t even remember. I think it was on another Twitter feed and I saw it and I read it as sort of glib, sort of ridiculous way to accentuate the larger theme that I was making. I slapped it on there as a second thought and obviously that’s what inflamed everyone, because they were suggesting somehow that I was making this comparison between Bernie and the Nazi Party, which is absolutely ridiculous because anyone who knows me knows I know better than that and the history of what that it is.

Now is it sloppy to have anything in a Twitter meme that has the word Nazi in it? Clearly you can’t say something like that and not expect people to react in the way that they do, but clearly it was not intended to be taken as a history lesson for the Twittersphere. It was more meant to again put the emphasis on the broad theme on where the Democrats stand.

Look at my actual quote. Look at what I actually said. And in Twtter today if you’re held liable for anything you either retweet or include in something that’s not yours,  is clearly somebody else’s and is clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek or satire, then most Twitter statements, you’re going to have to get rid of those because that’s what most of Twitter is. But, if you look at my  actual quote, I stand by my actual quote. It is about democratic socialists and I believe that this  president and most of those who serve in his administration are soft socialists, and we saw that last night.

So, Villalba apparently saw his tweet-with-meme as of a piece with President Obama’s “jokey-joke” about Bernie Sanders at the White House Correspondents’ dinner: “Apparently people really want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House,” the president said. “We could get a third Obama term after all.”

But that’s actually funny.

Villalba acknowledged of Twitter: “It really is a dangerous medium.”

I like to use Twiter for a number of different things. I use it to be  playful with an audiences so that they can get to know me as a person.  I use it  to make statements in real time about issues that are developing right before us. I like to use it to talk about important issues of the day in a very light 140-character style way.

If you really want to understand what I’m about, read my op-eds which are 900 words and get a better feel for what I’m about, when I’m clearly being much more thoughtful, much more articulate on these issues, doing the fact-checking necessary to put a statement with my name on it.

If you’re looking to Twitter as your source for news information and historical reference then you’re probably not going to be getting the best information because Twitter is just not that. Twitter is about scenes and not about long thoughtful, thought-out, fleshed-out ideas.

Villalba, a prime target of the tea party and Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan, is facing a Republican primary challenge from another Dallas attorney, Dan Morenoff.

Said Villalba:

They hate me on the far right, now they hate me on the left … Most of the country stands center right, which is right where I stand.

As I was talking with Villalba, it was the seventh inning of the the Texas Rangers-Toronto Blue Jays, an unbelievable inning that would end the Rangers’ season, which was followed by the Astros-Royals game which ended the Astros’ season.

It was a terrible few hours for Texas, but, of course, it had less to do with the players on the field than the errant tweet issued earlier in the week by Gov. Greg Abbott, or, at any rate, his official gubernatorial account.

It is a cautionary tale about he perils of Twitter.




“That’s bush league man,” Joe Scarborough said of Abbott’s tweet on Morning Joe this morning. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”



Viva Las Vegas: On casino capitalism, democratic socialism and honeymooning on the Volga

Good morning Austin:


It’s not clear to me why the Democrats held their first presidential debate in Las Vegas.

Maybe if Bill, not Hillary, Clinton were on stage. But Elvis has left the building.

I mean shouldn’t Trump and the Republicans be debating in this shrine to free market opulence and  gaudy excess?

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 6.53.01 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 6.56.43 AM

Instead, here are the five Democratic contenders gathered for the first time on the stage of Wynn casino in Las Vegas debating whether they should go from the being the party of creeping socialism to being the party of leaping socialism.

ANDERSON COOPER: Senator Sanders. A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?

BERNIE SANDERS: Well, we’re gonna win because first, we’re gonna explain what democratic socialism is. And what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent — almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. That when you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have — we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth. Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.

COOPER: Denmark is a country that has a population — Denmark is a country that has a population of 5.6 million people. The question is really about electability here, and that’s what I’m trying to get at. You — the — the Republican attack ad against you in a general election — it writes itself. You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. You honeymooned in the Soviet Union. And just this weekend, you said you’re not a capitalist. Doesn’t — doesn’t that ad write itself?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, let’s look at the facts. The facts that are very simple. Republicans win when there is a low voter turnout, and that is what happened last November. Sixty-three percent of the American people didn’t vote, Anderson. Eighty percent of young people didn’t vote. We are bringing out huge turnouts, and creating excitement all over this country. Democrats at the White House on down will win, when there is excitement and a large voter turnout, and that is what this campaign is doing.

COOPER: You don’t consider yourself a capitalist, though?

SANDERS: Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don’t. I believe in a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.

Very good.

But, as Anderson Cooper noted, the Republican attack ads really do write themselves.

It’s one thing to attack casino capitalism in a casino, but, here in the home of the 24-hour wedding chapel and the heart-shaped tub is a candidate who honeymooned in the Soviet Union.

Really? Can that be true?

Ninotchka in reverse?

Say it ain’t so, Bernie.

From The Guardian:

When Sanders was mayor, Burlington formed an alliance with another city – in the Soviet Union. When Sanders traveled to Yaroslavl, 160 miles north-east of Moscow, in 1988, the trip doubled as a honeymoon with his new wife, Jane. Not much survived in terms of paperwork from that trip, although the mayoral archives do contain a tape recording of Sanders interviewing Yaroslavl’s mayor on a boat somewhere on the Volga river.

After receiving a rundown of central planning, Soviet-style, from Yaroslavl’s mayor, Alexander Riabkov, Sanders notes how the quality of both housing and healthcare in America appeared to be “significantly better” than in the communist state. “However,” he added, “the cost of both services is much, much, higher in the United States.”

Sounds like the same comparison applies to honeymoon accommodations

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 6.38.38 AM

Rates From: USD$51.00 per night.

Looks nice. Very comfortable. Quite adequate.

Ah, but maybe the photos are misleading.

I checked the on-line reviews.

Viktor G. gave it a 6. Pretty good.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 7.18.58 AMIt seems the general tenor of the post-debate headlines and pundit reaction was that Hillary Clinton prevailed and strengthened her position.

But, not according to the Republican National Committee.

Here from an after-midnight email from the RNC’s Ruth Guerra:

Good evening – Lots of analysis tonight on the Democrat debate, but consider these takeaways:

· Bernie Sanders won the focus group conducted by Frank Luntz.
· Bernie Sanders won the focus group conducted by Fusion.
· Bernie Sanders won the focus group conducted by CNN.
· Bernie Sanders won on the issues according to Facebook users.
· Bernie Sanders was the most searched candidate following the debate according to Google Trends.

Hillary Clinton may be the strongest debater on the stage – she was in 2008 too – but it was Bernie Sanders that won the hearts and interest of Democrat voters.

Here, from Guerra’s links.

According to Luntz’s reaction meter, the best-received moment of the debate was when Sanders said he and the American people were tired of hearing about Clinton’s emails.

SANDERS: Let me say this. (APPLAUSE)

Let me say — let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Thank you. Me, too. Me, too.

SANDERS: You know? The middle class — Anderson, and let me say something about the media, as well. I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people. Middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens Union. Enough of the e-mails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.


CLINTON: Thank you, Bernie. Thank you.

Luntz’s focus group loved that.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 5.50.27 AM

But Trump, on Morning Joe, said Sanders let Clinton off the hook on an issue of her greatest vulnerability. “It was a great soundbite but I think it was a big mistake.”

Back to Guerra’s links.

From Fusion. (What is Fusion? From the Atlantic: Fusion began as a channel aimed at Hispanic millennials. Its executives soon found, however, that the demographic didn’t want their own network. So it chose to focus on millennials as a whole.)

From a CNN focus group.

From a CNN Facebook poll.


From Google Trends:


Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 6.28.22 AM

I asked three experts on political discourse to offer some commentary on the debate.

From Jennifer Mercieca, professor of communication at Texas A & M University:

The low point for Hillary was her (I’m paraphrasing, but this is what it sounded like to me) “the emails thing is a vast right-wing conspiracy” answer. She was best on foreign policy, but that won’t matter because only Republicans care about that and they are not persuadable when it comes to her.

And yet, she did what she needed to do, which was to solidify her lead with those who’ve been wavering lately. No one else could match her and Chafee bombed. The worst moment of the debate was his “I just arrived” answer about Glass-Steagall. We want a president who is ready on day one, not making excuses years later for what he didn’t know on day one. Hillary came off, as she wanted to, as a pragmatic progressive. Bernie was true to form, character, and message, but he doesn’t seem presidential and he’s hardly a Democrat. His line about Hillary’s damn emails was pretty great though.

Chafee’s “worst moment” was pretty bad.

COOPER: Governor Chafee, you have attacked Secretary Clinton for being too close to Wall Street banks. In 1999 you voted for the very bill that made banks bigger.

CHAFEE: 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.

COOPER: Are you saying you didn’t know what you were voting for?

CHAFEE: I’d just arrived at the Senate. I think we’d get some takeovers, and that was one. It was my very first vote, and it was 92-5. It was the…

COOPER: Well, with all due respect, Governor…

CHAFEE: But let me just say…

COOPER: … what does that say about you that you’re casting a vote for something you weren’t really sure about?

CHAFEE: I think you’re being a little rough. I’d just arrived at the United States Senate. I’d been mayor of my city. My dad had died. I’d been appointed by the governor. It was the first vote and it was 90-5, because it was a conference report. But let me just say about income inequality. We’ve had a lot of talk over the last few minutes, hours, or tens of minutes, but no one is saying how we’re going to fix it. And it all started with the Bush tax cuts that favored the wealthy. So let’s go back to the tax code. And 0.6 percent of Americans are at the top echelon, over 464,000, 0.6 Americans. That’s less than 1 percent. But they generate 30 percent of the revenue. And they’re doing fine.

COOPER: Thank you, Governor

I think the dream of Chafee 2016 may have expired in that exchange.

But Chafee, who went from Republican to Independent to Democrat, is one very idiosyncratic duck.

Here from a Nov. 14, 2004 story in The Providence Journal by M. Charles Bakst, when Chafee was in the throes of deciding whether to remain a Republican.

His party affiliation sway-pole act was overshadowed only by vacillation over how he’d vote for president this year. Sometimes he signaled he was for Mr. Bush; at other times he backed off.

A spectacular low point came on the eve of the 2004 Republican National Convention. (He would make only a brief appearance on the New York scene.) Chafee said he supported Mr. Bush’s reelection but wouldn’t commit to voting for him. He looked ridiculous, and Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey, more conservative, more combative, and a possible challenger in a 2006 Senate primary, could barely contain himself, asking in an interview:

“What does that mean? Usually, the people you support you vote for. Would you vote for one you wouldn’t support? Or is he saying he supports two people?

Then Chafee, distancing himself further from the president but also wanting to stay away from Democrat John Kerry, hit upon the solution of writing in the name of the president’s father, an old family friend whose policies he like better.

But, in declining to choose between candidate Bush and candidate Kerry, Chafee didn’t make a decision, he avoided a decision. Citizens look to leaders to lead. Chafee is often accused of wanting to have things both ways. This time he outdid himself.

True, Rhode Island was going to be a walkover for Kerry no matter what Chafee did, but the symbolism of his move left him open to ridicule, and, one might say, retaliation. I was struck by a letter to the editor from Edward Smith of Providence:

“When Lincoln Chafee runs for re-election to the U.S. Senate, I will write in his father’s name.”

And then, in an Election Day interview geared to his actually going ahead with his write-in strategy, Chafee compounded his problem by saying he might leave the GOP if the president won a second term.

Forget the “honeymoon on the Volga” Republican attack ad on Sanders.

How about their Lincoln Chafee was for George W. Bush before he was against him before he was for him before he was against him ad.

Asked by Cooper whether his political metamorphosis suggested a flighty nature, Chafee said, “You’re looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues.”

That brought to mind another Yankee blue blood, Endicott Peabody, who in 1972 actually entered the New Hampshire primary as a candidate for vice president with the slogan, the number one man for the number two job

From the New England Historical Society entry on Peabody.

During his terms as governor, detractors told a joke at his expense: Massachusetts liked him so much they named four places after him: They are Endicott, Peabody, Marblehead and Athol.

OK. Here’s another take on the debate from Kirby Goidel, also an expert on political communication at A&M.

I thought this was an interesting debate where the front-runners did most of what they needed to do. Hillary Clinton is better in a debate format that in a lot of venues. The interaction helps her and she appears smart, well-informed, and engaging. Toward the end of the debate when she got the question on maternity leave she even showed a flash of Bernie Sanders style outrage. Overall, I thought she did well. 

Bernie Sanders was Bernie Sanders, consistent, forthright, and genuine. I was unsure how he might come across in the debate setting but the fact that is unapologetic about who he is is endearing. He might have “won the debate” with his sound bite on being tired of hearing about those damn emails. 

I am not sure how some of his answers will play in the long run – embracing democratic socialism, for example, where he seems outside of the mainstream. The fact that he embraces these differences and uses them as an opportunity to explain his views works for him. The question though is does it expand his base? 

Martin O’Malley did OK but I don’t think we’ll enough. He had an important misstatement on Assad and Syria, though I think he just misspoke. The problem is – he needed to have a home run and he didn’t hit it out of the park. I thought he was at his best when he responded to Sanders saying “we already did that in Maryland.” 

Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee were not helped. 

I have no idea what Joe Biden will do, but I don’t think the debate opened the door any wider. If he was waiting for a sign, I don’t think he got it. 

O’Malley has the extraordinary burden of explaining how this year’s Baltimore riots don’t reflect on his tenure as the city’s mayor and the state’s governor.

COOPER:Governor O’Malley, the concern of voters about you is that you tout our record as Baltimore’s mayor. As we all know, we all saw it. That city exploded in riots and violence in April. The current top prosecutor in Baltimore, also a Democrat, blames your zero tolerance policies for sowing the seeds of unrest. 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?

 O’Malley answered at length, including this:

O’MALLEY: Well, let’s talk about this a little bit. One of the things that was not reported during that heartbreaking night of unrest in Baltimore was that arrests had actually fallen to a 38-year low in the year prior to the Freddie Gray’s tragic death. Anderson, when I ran for mayor of Baltimore back in 1999, it was not because our city was doing well. It was because we allowed ourselves to become the most violent, addicted, and abandoned city in America. And I ran and promised people that together we could turn that around. And we put our city on a path to reduce violent crime, or Part 1 crime by more than any other major city in America over the next 10 years. I did not make our city immune to setbacks. But I attended a lot of funerals, including one for a family of seven who were firebombed in their sleep for picking up the phone in a poor African-American neighborhood and calling the police because of drug dealers on their corner. We’ve saved over a thousand lives in Baltimore in the last 15 years of people working together. And the vast majority of them were young and poor and black. It wasn’t easy on any day. But we saved lives and we gave our city a better future, improving police and community relations every single day that I was in office.

The one line that stood out to me was I attended a lot of funerals.

Not good.

And here is a first take on the debate from University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus:

Bernie Sanders’s first national debate exposure came off as strident and angry. The message resonates with Democratic voters but the tone needs to be drawn back from angry old man to idealistic critic.

Senator Webb came off as turgid and slightly arrogant but knowledgeable. The only moment where he seemed warm was when Bernie Sanders praised his military service. Otherwise he was forgettable.

Martin O’Malley had the greatest opportunity but fell most short of the mark of anyone on the stage. He struck a timid tone and, other than a little passion on gun control issues, didn’t break through on a single issue.

These debates are a lose-lose for Clinton, like death by 1,000 paper cuts. The subtle jabs and obvious comparisons to the other candidates, either modest or favorable, make her look less viable in comparison. Even so, she presented a poised balance and rational approach to Bernie Sanders’s disagreeable rail against capitalism. Sanders absolved her on the email scandal, at least among Democrats, putting this debate in the positive column for her. Clinton was personal and persuasive on the family leave issue which humanized her and made her more approachable.

In one of the best moments of the night, Clinton was firm and strident on gun control, addressing the general electorate rather than the Democratic Party electorate. She took some hits over Syria but showed both her strong connection to the positives of the Obama Administration but also her deep knowledge. Some of the more damaging hits she took were on voting for the Iraq War, a similar trope from 2008. Foreign policy is not where Secretary Clinton’s opponents are going to quell her in any case but the Iraq issue hurts her with core Democrats, Hispanics and African-Americans. The other damage she sustained was on the war on Wall Street where her admonition of the big banks as Senator fell flat in comparison to Sanders’s populist message.

The bottom line is that Hillary Clinton, while challenged, can’t lose any debate to a group of candidates who are almost a Republican, almost a socialist and almost an independent. The Party wants to be inclusive of a range of ideas but Clinton is the only candidate that hits all the strings on the Party chord.

All in all, I thought the debate was OK, though not nearly as entertaining as the Republicans.

And frankly, I would have much rather been watching my Mets battling the Dodgers, even with its unfortunate outcome.

Even President Obama said he was going to be channel surfing between the two, and when Trump, on Morning Joe, was asked about his decision to solely watch the Democratic debate, he replied:

I can’t believe it either. I thought I had an obligation to sit through the entire thing.

Me too.

Follow live: 2016 Democratic presidential debate at 7:30 p.m.

Update 9:38 p.m.: Hillary Clinton recast her Democratic presidential campaign as an outsider candidacy by emphasizing her gender.

“I can’t think of anything more than an outsider than electing the first woman president,” Clinton said.

Responding to the suggestion that America doesn’t need another Clinton in the White House, she said “I wouldn’t ask anyone to vote for me based on my last name.”

Update 9:25 p.m.: Bernie Sanders said if elected he would shut down the federal surveillance program on Americans as it exists now.

On whether to prosecute Edward Snowden, Sanders said Snowden broke the law but “played a very important role in educating us” on American surveillance and that “should be taken into consideration” in weighing his punishment.

Update 9:05 p.m.: Responding to criticism from her Democratic rivals, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night acknowledged changing positions.

“Everyone on this stage has changed a position or two,” Clinton said. “I’m not taking a backseat to anybody on my values, my principals or the results I get.”

Update 8:52 p.m.: Bernie Sanders drew the biggest applause of the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night by saying that he didn’t think the campaign should focus on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders said. “Enough of the emails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America!”

Update 8:40 p.m.: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he sought conscientious objector status in the Vietnam era because he opposed the war, but that he is not a pacifist.

“I believe in the bottom of my heart that war should be the last resort,” Sanders said.

Update 8:30 p.m.: Hillary Clinton took jabs from her Democratic presidential rivals Tuesday night over her 2002 vote in favor of military action in Iraq.

“I heard the same evidence … about why we should overthrow Saddam Hussein,” said Bernie Sanders, who voted against military force. “I say without any joy in my heart that much of what I thought would happen about destabilization (in Iraq) did happen.”

Clinton said she took similar criticism from Barack Obama on the debate stage in 2008 but that he trusted her judgment to be secretary state.

Update 8:25 p.m.: Hillary Clinton sparred with Bernie Sanders over gun control in the Democratic debate Tuesday night.

In a lively exchange, Clinton criticized Sanders for voting against the Brady Bill five times and voting for the so-called immunity provision for gun manufacturers.

“We lose 90 people a day to gun violence,” Clinton said. “It’s time the entire country stood up against the NRA.”

Sanders defended his record saying he comes from a rural state, which differs from urban areas when it comes to gun issues, and that he would bring the country together on gun control.

“There is a consensus in this country … that we need to strengthen background checks and get rid of this gun show loophole,” Sanders said.

Update 8:10 p.m.: Bernie Sanders deflected the suggestion that he would have difficulty winning a general election in the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night by saying he would turn out unprecedented vote.

When pressed by moderator Anderson Cooper, Sanders said he was not a capitalist.

Front-runner Hillary Clinton seized upon that statement, saying she wouldn’t turn her back on the small businesses that have helped America prosper.

Sanders retorted: “What we need to do is support small and medium size businesses … but we have to make sure every family has a fair shake.”


Journalists check the debate stage during a walk-through before the Democratic Presidential candidates arrive for their CNN Facebook Democratic Debate this evening at the Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Journalists check the debate stage during a walk-through before the Democratic Presidential candidates arrive for their CNN Facebook Democratic Debate this evening at the Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party’s first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Follow along live with the first 2016 Democratic presidential debate at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Las Vegas. The debate will be televised on CNN. It will feature five candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. American-Statesman reporters and other political writers and pundits will tweet through the night.