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In South Carolina, Bernie Sanders Takes Heat in a Messy Debate.

It was the tenth overall debate, and candidates on stage included Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, billionaire Tom Steyer, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

On the debate stage, candidates tried to direct attention to Sanders, with Bloomberg pointing to the Vermont senator’s vote against the Brady Bill, which mandated the establishment of a background check and stricter gun control measures.

Bloomberg, who took a beating in last week’s Democratic debate, appeared more steady on Tuesday. After a widely panned performance during his first time on stage with his rivals, the billionaire businessman responded to criticism about his record on policing, sexual harassment and donating to Republican political candidates with what seemed like more prepared remarks.

Biden predicted a win in South Carolina on Saturday when he was pressed by the moderators on his sinking poll numbers in the state.

“I will win South Carolina,” Biden said in response to a question asking if he’d end his candidacy if he doesn’t get the votes. “I don’t expect anything. I’m here to ask. I’m here to earn. But folks, I intend to win South Carolina and I will win the African American vote here in South Carolina,” Biden added.

Mish Debate Assessment

I missed the first 15 minutes of the debate.

My assessment of the rest was "boring".

Overall I thought Biden did about as well as he could have.

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Bloomberg did much better than his first debate. Admittedly, that is a very low bar, but when you have billions to spend, it might matter.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar both did OK in the debate, but it will not matter unless they pull some sort of miracle in South Carolina.

Billionaires can stay in as long as they want, but at some point the DNC will need to up the requirements. Curiously, there were 7 candidates on stage Tuesday evening compared to 6 in Nevada.

The primaries were supposed to weed out candidates.

Super Tuesday Loom Large

  • Super Tuesday is March 3, a week from today.
  • If Biden does very well in South Carolina on February 29, and I expect he will, it may be a brand new ball game headed into Super Tuesday.
  • The easy road for Sanders is now in the rear view mirror.
  • I still see no path for any candidate to get 50% of the delegates heading into the convention.

In short, Biden did what he had to do to stay in the race.

On Saturday, the voters in South Carolina will set the stage for Super Tuesday.

If Sanders does not have a huge plurality coming on March 3, he likely will not get one.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock