The Democrats hold their first presidential primary debate
THE PACK of Democratic presidential contenders is too big for all its members to debate at once. So they must be dealt with in shifts. The first ten debated in Miami on the evening of June 26th for two hours—a second batch arrives on June 27th for a similar slugfest. Although party officials made the placements randomly, it so happened that the first event’s crew was light on heavyweights. Elizabeth Warren, the left-leaning senator from Massachusetts, newly ascendant in the polls, was the clear front-runner, accompanied by nine hangers-on. Each of them was keen to produce break-out moments—of the kind that might fly on social media, inspire cash contributions and bolster campaigns ahead of a months-long slog.
For those predisposed to like Ms Warren, her performance was admirable. Her star shone brightest in the first hour of the debate, where she deplored an economy that is “doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at a top” but “just not doing great for people who are trying to get a prescription filled”. She won loud applause for her defence of Medicare for All, a plan for universal health-care coverage devised by her presidential rival Bernie Sanders. The politicians who oppose it “just won’t fight for it”, she said, but “health care is a basic human right and I will fight for basic human rights”. In the second hour of the debate however, Ms Warren remained relatively quiet, giving her competitors a chance to shine.