And That’s The Way It Is: Live-Blogging the CBS Democratic Debate

8:38pm EST: Good evening, and apologies in advance for any technical issues. The CBS Democratic debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa will start in 20 minutes. I’m watching the pregame show on the CBSN stream; is it just me, or is Major Garrett blander than Brian Williams?

8:45pm EST: CBSNews.com on how to watch the debate. Hope all options hold up technically!

8:53pm EST: CBSN keeps running a great commercial for Trumbo.

8:59pm EST: It begins. A moment of silence for Paris. Clinton introduced first. Sanders second, to rousing applause. Then O’Malley. Moderators Nancy Cordes, Kevin Cooney and Kathie Obradovich are introduced.

9:04pm EST: John Dickerson introduces the ground rules. In his opening statement, Sanders condemns the attacks and vows to “rid this planet of ISIS” as president, before decrying income inequality, the broken campaign finance system, and calling for a political revolution. Clinton says prayers are not enough for Paris; we need resolve to bring the world together to combat jihadist radicals. Clinton vows to fight terrorism aggressively as president. O’Malley says his heart goes out to the people of France, and says the US must work collaboratively with other nations to thwart terrorism.

9:09pm EST: Clinton says ISIS “cannot be contained; it must be defeated,” and says military and diplomacy must be deployed to defeat this threat. She rejects the idea that the Obama administration dropped the ball on ISIS. O’Malley says that America is best when it stands up against ISIS-style evil in the world, and says again that the US must work in collaboration with other nations. He rejects the idea that America should be the world police, but America must defeat jihadist ideology. Sanders defends his earlier argument that climate change is the biggest threat facing the world, and points out the connection that the defense community has made between climate change and terrorism, and criticizes Clinton’s vote in favor of the Iraq War, a war which ultimately led to ISIS. He calls for an international coalition involving Muslim nations to defeat ISIS. Clinton puts her vote for the Iraq War in the context of the threat the US faced from terrorism. Sanders says he has a “disagreement” with Clinton on Iraq, and condemns the idiocy of “regime-change” philosophy over the decades. O’Malley also condemns Clinton’s vote for the Iraq War. Clinton discusses the complicated nature of handling the Middle East. Sanders again says that Muslim nations must confront ISIS, as this is a “war for the soul of Islam.” Clinton suggests that Sanders doesn’t acknowledge the Muslim nations that are trying to confront ISIS. John Dickerson asks about Libya; Clinton defends the Obama administration’s handling of that situation. O’Malley and Clinton discuss the “arc of instability” in the Middle East. Sanders points out that the US doesn’t necessarily do a good job of taking care of veterans when they return from war. Clinton says we are not at war with Islam but with jihadists, and says the US must make clear that we are not at war with the entire religion of Islam. Sanders also notes that we are not at war with Islam, but with violent radicals who reject modernity. O’Malley says we are at war with “radical jihadis,” but that we can’t fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush.

9:29pm EST: Clinton discusses the AUMF and its importance in the fight against terrorism. Sanders notes that we need to make our military cost-effective, and says the US, Europe and Gulf countries have a moral obligation to help Syrian refugees. O’Malley also notes that we have an obligation to help Syrian refugees. Clinton, in response to a Twitter question, says that we should carefully screen and vet Syrian refugees to ensure that there are no potential harmdoers among them. She then discusses problems in China and Russia.

9:34pm EST: Commercial break.

9:37pm EST: Commercial break over. Nancy Cordes asks about the middle class, and Hillary Clinton’s plans to improve their standing. Clinton condemns wage stagnation, and says she will take the wealthy more and close corporate loopholes to implement her plans to help the middle class economically. O’Malley discusses his college-affordability and health-care plans; O’Malley points to his progress on helping the middle class in Maryland, and says that the rich must pay more in income and capital-gains taxes. Sanders discusses his plans to “rebuild the crumbling middle class,” and condemns the role Reaganomics played in redistributing wealth upward. He calls for the end of corporate loopholes and implementing a tax on Wall Street speculation, saying the rich have “gotten away with murder” economically. He notes that the top marginal tax rate was 90 percent under Eisenhower, joking that Eisenhower was a bigger socialist than he was. O’Malley also notes that at the beginning of Reagan’s first term, the highest marginal rate was 70 percent. Clinton defends Obamacare, and condemns the GOP’s obsession with killing the landmark law. She then says that she wants to build on and improve Obamacare. Sanders says that the next president must confront the pharmaceutical industry’s price-gouging, and says that we must ultimately move towards a single-payer health care system (to loud applause). O’Malley whines about not getting time to speak about health care, saying Maryland made progress on health care costs during his time as governor.

9:46pm EST: Another commercial break.

9:49pm EST: Commercial over. Kevin Cooney and Kathy Obradovich next up to ask questions. O’Malley says that we’re more focused on border security than on comprehensive immigration reform, and attacks Donald Trump as an “immigrant-bashing carnival barker.” “Our symbol is the Statue of Liberty, not a barbed-wire fence,” O’Malley says to applause. Clinton discusses the Obama administration’s use of executive authority on immigration, and pushes back against the wingnut attacks on “Dreamers” to stirring applause. Sanders rejects the argument that raising the minimum wage will somehow kill jobs, and notes that wages in the US are far too low; “this country needs to move towards a living wage…I apologize to nobody for that,” he says to applause. He points out the connection between low wages and the lack of disposable income in the US. O’Malley notes that the “stronger middle class is actually the source of economic growth,” and notes that Maryland’s economy improved after the minimum wage was increased there. Sanders also notes the importance of raising the minimum wage. Clinton endorses a $12 federal minimum wage, and says there’s no problem with states going even higher; Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley get into a brief three-way fight on the minimum wage.

9:57pm EST: Another commercial break. This has been a great debate, with the Democratic party as a whole coming off well.

10:02pm EST: Clinton says she will absolutely fight to reform Wall Street, and condemns “shadow banking.” Sanders says Clinton’s ideas to reform Wall Street are “not good enough,” and implies that Clinton will do Wall Street’s building as President; he says major financial institutions need to be broken up, and that Glass-Steagall needs to be reinstated, aggressively going after Clinton for her previous campaign contributions. Clinton says Sanders has “impugned her integrity,” noting that she is heavily dependent on small donors as well, including a majority of women. She defends her efforts with regard to Wall Street, and says that reinstating Glass-Steagall doesn’t go far enough to reform Wall Street. O’Malley whines again about not getting enough air time. Sanders again goes after Clinton on the issue of campaign contributions, and says he “respectfully disagrees” with her on her ability to reform Wall Street. O’Malley calls for “new economic thinking in the White House,” condemning Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers by name. O’Malley says “our economy was wrecked by the big banks on Wall Street,” and says her ideas for Wall Street reform are “weak tea,” joining Sanders in calling for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. Clinton subtly says O’Malley is a hypocrite on the issue of Wall Street reform. Clinton vehemently pushes back against the idea that she won’t reform Wall Street. Sanders says “Wall Street representatives will not be in my Cabinet.”

10:10pm EST: Clinton very subtly attacks Sanders’s track record on guns, lamenting rampant gun violence in the US and vowing to go after the gun lobby. Sanders aggressively defends his record on guns. O’Malley also laments the epidemic of gun violence in the US, and criticizes both Sanders and Clinton over their track record on guns. Sanders takes a shot at O’Malley’s record as mayor of Baltimore with regard to gun violence.

10:15pm EST: In response to a Twitter question, Clinton defends her efforts to rebuild the New York economy after 9/11, efforts that involved working with Wall Street. Sanders condemns Clinton as someone who genuflects to Wall Street; Clinton aggressively pushes back against that criticism. O’Malley suggests that Clinton facilitated “crony capitalism,” and says he’s not the candidate of Wall Street.

10:18pm EST: Another damn commercial.

10:22pm EST: Back from commercial. Sanders says he will put together a progressive coalition to combat the far-right in the US. He also says we need “leadership in this country which revitalizes American democracy,” and notes that his campaign has captured the imagination of younger Americans. Sanders says he’s still sick and tired of hearing about Clinton’s e-mails, and forcefully condemns the US corporate media’s refusal to cover serious issues, to vigorous applause. Clinton says she gives Sanders his props for getting those who have checked out of the political process to check back in, and condemns Republican voter suppression efforts. Clinton also says Obama deserves props for all of his accomplishments despite vigorous opposition; I wonder if she read this piece. Clinton says that the differences between herself, Sanders and O’Malley pale in comparison to the differences between Democrats and Republicans. John Dickerson then asks O’Malley about the alleged “Ferguson effect” in American policing; O’Malley defends his efforts to reform policing in Maryland, and states for the record that “Black Lives Matter.” Sanders denounces racial inequality in the United States, and says we need major reform in a “broken criminal justice system.” Dickerson asks Clinton about the recent protests at the University of Missouri and other educational institutions; Clinton says those protests reflect the level of despair in communities of color in the United States. Cooney asks Sanders about the efficacy of his college-affordability plans; Sanders defends those plans, and says that a quality college education should be available to all Americans regardless of class. Sanders, Clinton and O’Malley condemn the college-debt crisis in the US.

Cordes asks Sanders about his single-payer health care efforts; Sanders says that campaign finance reform is the sine qua non of moving towards single-payer. Clinton discusses her track record on health care, and again defends Obamacare to loud applause. Clinton subtly suggests that Sanders’s health-care ideas are problematic in terms of how they would actually be implemented; Sanders pushes back. O’Malley again laments his lack of speaking time.

10:41pm EST: Yet another commercial break.

10:45pm EST: Back from commercial. Clinton discusses the hard choices (no pun intended) she has faced in her career, specifically the decision to execute Osama bin Laden in 2011. O’Malley notes that the crises Presidents face are unique. Sanders discusses the difficulty he faced trying to improve VA health care as a Senator.

10:49pm EST: In his closing statements, O’Malley says that he would represent “new thinking” as President. “There is no challenge too great for the United States to confront.”

10:50pm EST: In her closing statements, Clinton says that a president must do “all that she can do” to lift up struggling Americans.

10:52 pm EST: In his closing statements, Sanders denounces income inequality, and repeats his call for a “political revolution” to take back the country from economic elites.

The Democratic Party as a whole won this debate, as well as CBS; John Dickerson did a very good job as moderator. I think the ratings will be much higher than everyone commonly assumes for a Saturday night.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.