Did you watch the Democratic debates? We asked, you answered

  • “I guess my approach is to kind of let things fizzle down a little,” said Rachel Schneider of Northampton, speaking about the field of Democratic presidential candidates at Pulaski Park in Northampton on Wednesday morning. “I really like Warren. I like her approach to politics. I’m kind of over Bernie; I think he has a lot of wonderful ideas, but after 2016 I just don’t think he can win. On a personal note, I’d like to see a person of color or a woman in office. Of course, policies are policies, and I’m going to vote for someone with the best ideas.” 

  • “We like Kamala,” said Megan Walz, left, who stood with Carly Walz of Raleigh, North Carolina, pictured on Main Street in Northampton Wednesday morning. “She has specific plans, and she’s used to dealing with a lot as a prosecutor. But we’re just waiting for people to drop out.”  STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • “I’ll probably watch [the debates] tonight if I get a chance,” said Michael Rosa, originally from Holyoke, shown in downtown Northampton Wednesday morning. Who are his favorite candidates? “Right now, it’s up in the air. They keep on bickering with each other.” As for Trump and his recent comments that four freshmen Democratic women should “go back” to their countries of origin, “That’s racist,” said Rosa, who has family in Puerto Rico. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from. It’s ridiculous. I don’t know how he’s up there.” STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • “I’m a little overwhelmed with politics right now,” said Karen Peterson of Holyoke, shown at Pulaski Park in Northampton Wednesday morning. She didn’t watch the first debate because she doesn’t have a TV, but she catches up by reading the news. “It’s just frustrating. The more you get invested in hoping for the right thing to happen or actions to be accounted for, it doesn’t. Eventually, it’s just exhausting.” As for Trump’s recent racist comments: “I think basically he is doing whatever he can to foster division, rile up support from his base. I have friends who are Trump supporters. My dad is a Trump supporter … it just amazes me that people I would consider really wonderful people still can get caught up in the way he sows those seeds of hatred and racism and be able to be talked out of even agreeing that that’s what he’s doing. Yeah, I think he’s doing a great job at that, if there’s anything he’s doing a great job at.” STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Christopher Perry of Florence, shown at Pulaski Park in Northampton on Wednesday morning, didn’t watch the first debate because, he said, “My television’s not working, I’ve only got movies. That’s the only reason.” He stays informed by talking to others who are keeping themselves informed. “I do vote, though. I voted for Clinton,” he said, adding, “Donald Trump’s just about himself, really. That’s the way I look at it.” STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Achaetey Kabal of Amherst spoke about the Democratic presidential candidates at Haymarket Cafe in Northampton on Wednesday morning. Asked whether they watched the debate Tuesday, “I had plans to do so, but I was very tired so I ended up just not,” Kabal said, adding that Elizabeth Warren seems to have the best shot at beating Trump, even though they like Kirsten Gillibrand. Warren is “the most likely to get elected, and also I think her policies are pretty good.” In 2016, Kabal supported Bernie Sanders as a Democratic nominee, “and now I get emails from him all the time saying ‘Please, please donate,’” they said. “I super understand that, but it’s overwhelming, and I think as much as I truly believe in giving the power to the people electing candidates, there’s also a point where you get those emails where you think, ‘If my personal contribution will make such a big difference, maybe you just don’t have that much backing.” Kabal feels now that Sanders doesn’t have enough support to defeat Trump, and their priority is voting for someone who can, they added: “Bernie, it didn’t work then, so maybe just support another candidate.” STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • “I like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Biden,” said Peter Ives of Northampton, pictured at Haymarket Cafe in Northampton Wednesday morning. “I’m very fond of Kamala Harris. I think she’d be very strong candidate against Donald Trump; she’s my first choice. I think Kamala Harris as president and Joe Biden as vice president would be a very strong ticket.” Of the confrontation between Harris and Biden during the last debate, Ives said, “I think it was necessary. Harris needed to clear the air, and Biden has not served African-American communities well with his policies on crime and prison sentences. I think Democrats must resolve their differences. Now is the time to quickly work them out, and to face the danger that is Donald Trump’s presidency.” STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Gyuri Kepes of Turners Falls spoke about opposition against Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders while at Haymarket Cafe in Northampton on Wednesday morning: “I think there’s always going to be that push from the establishment against more left-wing candidates. But we need someone who’s able to appeal to the same anxieties that Trump was able to but in a more constructive way. Nobody thought Trump could be elected; nobody thinks Bernie can be elected. But Trump punches down, where Bernie punches up.”  STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • “I really don’t like Beto O’Rourke,” said Jason Carmignani of Northampton, shown at Haymarket Cafe in Northampton on Wednesday morning, after watching the debate Tuesday night. “He’s pretty robotic. He’s a fresh face, which is nice, and he’s young, and he probably has good ideas, but I feel like he doesn’t have that much experience to draw from … But then again, he does make good points about being from a purple state, Texas. And he might have pretty good ideas about scaling up that mentality to the whole country … I think, in general, candidates that come from states where districts voted for Obama but then voted for Trump are pretty attractive. They aren’t super progressive, like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie, but I feel like they represent the majority of America in terms of philosophy.” That said, Carmignani added, “I really love Bernie. I feel like we do need some radical change. Like, the Green New Deal is a good idea … There are just so many people in the field. I want to know more about their stances. I feel like it’s easier to watch television to try to understand their plans a little better, and just the way they speak. I can get a really good idea of how they might govern and how genuine they are.” STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 8/1/2019 2:47:09 PM

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the 20 Democratic candidates squared off for two nights of debates hosted by CNN in Detroit. Ten candidates participated in each event.

The first night saw tensions erupt between moderate and progressive candidates. Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney decried the “fairy tale economics” of more progressive candidates like Elizabeth Warren, who shot back, “I don’t know why anyone goes to the trouble to run for president to talk about what we can’t do and what we won’t fight for.” 

Bernie Sanders found himself sparring with Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who accused the Vermont senator of not knowing whether union members would have better coverage under Medicare for All. In what would become a viral moment, Sanders fired back, “I wrote the damn bill!” Later, Ryan chastised Sanders for his volume, saying, “You don’t have to yell.”

On the second night, nearly all of those on stage, including Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and former Housing Secretary Julián Castro launched criticism at Joe Biden. During his closing statement, Biden flubbed his website announcement, asking viewers to “go to Joe 30330.” Someone quickly scooped up Joe30330.com, which now redirects to joshforamerica.com, a website that notes, “we’re not affiliated with any presidential campaign. We’re just having some good fun (maybe a little bit at the expense of Joe) :).” 

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard criticized Harris, considered a winner of the first Democratic debate, for her record as a prosecutor, saying that Harris “put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.” Harris responded that she was proud of her work and of using her power “to reform a system that is badly in need of reform.”

Was the Pioneer Valley listening? This week, the Gazette spoke to people in downtown Northampton who had a lot to say about the candidates, but for the most part admitted to not watching the debates.

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