By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Big-screen at debate-watching party hosted by the Sanders campaign in San Diego at a Hillcrest theatre, where a crowd of about 500 people turned out.
October 15, 2015 (San Diego)—The first Democratic Presidential candidates’ debate held Wednesday differed sharply from two earlier Republican candidate debates in both the range of topics discussed and the generally civil tone among competitors. While Republicans focused largely on plans to slash taxes and shrink government, Democrats emphasized issues facing working families, minorities, and income inequality. While Democratic candidates showed clear policy differences, they largely refrained from personal attacks.
CNN and Facebook hosted the debate held in Las Vegas. Five candidates participated: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, ex-Massachusetts Governor Martin O’Malley, Virginia Senator Jim Webb, and ex-Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. (Vice President Joe Biden did not appear, despite widespread speculation that he is considering entering the race.)
The spotlight and lion’s share of questions focused mainly on the two front-runners, Clinton and Sanders. Major post-debate polls showed Sanders winning the debate, followed by Clinton, with the other three candidates trailing in single-digits, though many media pundits placed Clinton ahead. Moderator Anderson Cooper and other CNN journalists peppered candidates with questions challenging their perceived vulnerabilities as well as stances on key issues. CNN also posed questions from voters across the country. Here are highlights: