Detroit—Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm sighed after the second group of 10 Democratic presidential candidates finished the second night of the the second round of the exercises that the Democratic National Committee refers to as “debates.” “This was a joyless debate,” said Granholm. She was right. The front-runner, former vice president Joe Biden, took his expected hits on Wednesday night. The other leading contender on the stage, California Senator Kamala Harris, took some unexpected hits. Biden and Harris pushed back, sometimes effectively, sometimes not. But the second night of debating lacked the electricity, the energy, and the clarity of purpose that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders brought to the first.
Tuesday night’s vibrant ideological clashes, which saw the two progressive senators fend off “Republican talking point” jibes from debate moderators and centrist Democrats, gave that debate a coherence that was missing on Wednesday night.