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The Ticker

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Bernie Sanders stands out as the clear winner of the fourth debate

Joel C. Bautista | The Ticker

The fourth democratic debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times expanded the stage to 12 candidates compared to the 10 last month, but most of the focus narrowed down to the top three candidates. A few things have changed since the last debate that shifted the dynamic this time around. 

An impeachment inquiry has begun with former Vice President Joe Biden at its front and center, Sen. Elizabeth Warren caught up to Biden in some national and early state polls and Sen. Bernie Sanders made his first official appearance since suffering a heart attack that resulted in two stents being implanted.

For the first time, all 12 of the democratic candidates on stage unanimously agreed on backing the impeachment inquiries against President Donald Trump.

This led to Biden getting pressed about his son’s ties in Ukraine and put him on the defensive early on. “My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” Biden said and deflected to his son’s statements on the matter. Walking away from the question he attacked Trump instead. The frustration that Biden voiced with Trump seemed to set his tone for the rest of the evening.

Sanders then redirected the conversation to climate and healthcare. No other candidate really tried to attack Biden as in the previous debates, a reflection of Biden’s diminished position in the race as a result of Warren’s surge in recent polls.

For the first time this year, Warren had to bat off multiple rivals at once. The focus of these attacks was based on Warren’s support for Sanders’ “Medicare for All” approach to health care. Even the moderators took part questioning Warren’s vagueness on her approach to health care, specifically asking her more than once if she would raise taxes on the middle class in order to get “Medicare for All” done.

While Warren didn’t answer the question directly showing that she has “a plan for everything except this” as Mayor Pete Buttigieg pointed out, she did evade the attacks by sticking to her guns that overall costs of healthcare would go down for the middle class. Warren was successful in her counterattacks for the rest of the evening and at the end of the debate, it felt like she was the candidate to beat.

The frontrunners being placed on the defensive allowed Sanders to pull off a trifecta, making him the clear winner in this debate. First, Sanders had to prove he was healthy coming off of his heart attack and he did so by being the Sanders we all know. 

He pitched his “Medicare for All” bill as per usual while focusing on the pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Sanders attacked billionaires with the same energy we are all used to, proving he was perfectly healthy and hasn’t missed a beat since his hospitalization.

Sanders later put down the comeback of the night against Biden’s boasts that he knows how to work with Republicans to get things done. He staked out the ground that he needed to stake out by saying that he is for a political revolution trying to draw the biggest distinction between himself and the candidates. 

Finally, his biggest win came shortly after the debates as he received endorsements from “squad members” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the young progressives with the loudest voices in the democratic party at the moment.

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