Next week’s Democratic Debate unlikely to be repeat snoozefest

By Dave Andrusko

sanders-clinton44reAnd then, there were three. When CBS News revealed its plans how it would manage next week’s Democratic debate, it was a reminder an already small field had shrunk to three.

All are pro-abortion: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sander (Vt.), and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Two others–former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee–never caught on and have dropped out. (That has not dissuaded O’Malley.)

The November 14 debate at Drake University will be moderated by Face the Nation anchor John Dickerson, assisted by panelists CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes; CBS’s Des Moines affiliate anchor Kevin Cooney; and Kathie Obradovich, a political columnist for the Des Moines Register. Pre and post-debate coverage on CBSN will be anchored by CBS News Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett.

There’s been a truly fascinating turn–if it proves to be true. Sen. Sanders gave an interview to (of all places) the Wall Street Journal in which Sanders strongly suggested he would no longer play Mr. Nice Guy. The lead in yesterday’s WSJ story by Peter Nicholas is

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is drawing sharper distinctions with front-runner Hillary Clinton, casting her policy reversals over the years as a character issue that voters should take into account when they evaluate the Democratic field.

One of those “sharper distinctions” is Mrs. Clinton’s now-famous use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State.

It’s hard to miss the irony.

In the first debate Sanders went out of his way to defuse the controversy, saying voters were “sick and tired” of the focus on Mrs. Clinton’s “damn emails.” Mrs. Clinton responded with a big smile and a handshake.

For his troubles, Sen. Sanders was subsequently called a sexist by the Clinton campaign and obliquely (according to Slate magazine) a racist by Clinton herself (“Hillary Clinton Is Stepping Up Her Smear Campaign Against Bernie”).

Stay tuned. Next week’s CBS debate could be a lot more lively than the first snoozefest.