HOUSTON – Frontrunner Joe Biden seemed to withstand most of the blows and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke rebounded from a pair of lackluster performances in earlier debates as ABC hosted the third debate among a tightening field of Democratic presidential candidates at Texas Southern University on Thursday.
Opponents took plenty of shots at the frontrunner, but Biden ultimately stood his ground while O’Rourke received near unilateral praise from his competition as he focused on immigration and was one of several candidates to call President Donald Trump a racist.
Bernie Sanders doubled down on his anti-corporatist agenda as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro stood out as Biden’s main vocal opponent.
Most of the candidates came out with an aggressive posture, verbally sparring with one another as most took aim at Biden’s long and much-debated record on key issues. The question remains as to whether Biden will be able to maintain his lead in spite of heightened awareness of that long record, and with some resurfacing quotes dating back approximately forty years ago.
On policy discussions, candidates focused on the cost of education, the use of charter schools, Medicare for All and other healthcare reform plans, and mandatory assault-style rifle buybacks strongly supported by O’Rourke.
The next Democratic debate is a month ahead and planned to be local to Ohio — a crucial state for the would-be Democratic nominee to capture in the 2020 general election.
This is an immediate reaction piece. More reaction and commentary will follow.