The road to 2020 has begun.
Twenty candidates over two nights.
Wednesday saw the first half of a crowded Democrat field entering the stage in Miami, Florida, desperate to prove they have what it takes to beat Donald Trump.
Senator Elizabeth Warren was the only one of the 10 enjoying double-digit support in the polls.
She is riding a surge on her progressive policy-driven agenda and started strong on the economy.
She said: “When you’ve got a government, when you’ve got an economy that does great for those with money and isn’t doing great for everyone else, that is corruption – pure and simple.
“We need to call it out. We need to attack it head-on. And we need to make structural change in our government, in our economy, and in our country.”
But she didn’t go on to dominate.
Candidates like former rising star Beto O’Rourke and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio are struggling for money and attention. This debate was their big chance punch through.
The gut-wrenching image of a father and daughter from El Salvador who drowned in a river at the US-Mexico border prompted impassioned answers.
De Blasio said: “Those tragic – that tragic photo of those – that parent, that child – and I’m saying this as a father. Every American should feel that in their heart, every American should say, ‘That is not America, those are not our values.'”
That was also the moment Donald Trump tweeted his thoughts on the debate – one word: “BORING”.
Trump didn’t dominate as much as you might expect – most jabs at the president came from Senator Amy Klobuchar.
She said: “This president is literally every single day 10 minutes away from going to war, one tweet away from going to war.
“And I don’t think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5.00 in the morning, which is what he does.”
Former housing secretary Julian Castro is being regarded as a big winner with some strong moments on immigration.
He’ll be hoping his performance can shake up the polls that currently have former vice-president Joe Biden as the frontrunner.
While this was about presenting ideas and policies, it was also largely about performance.
Do the candidates look and sound like someone who can beat Donald Trump? That is ultimately what Democrat voters want.
Robert Mueller’s upcoming testimony on Capitol Hill is likely to put Democrat talk of impeachment back on the table.
It’s an issue that divides the candidates but one that will follow them through the debate process.
While every moment of a US election is dubbed high stakes, the best performances on the Miami stage will fade and the worst can improve.
It’s a long road ahead with seven months until the first deciding ballots are cast.
Source: SKY NEWS