We’ve now lived through four Democratic debates. It feels like more, both because it was more (technically, there have been six nights of debates) and because they have been extremely repetitive (each must start with “Medicare for All,” apparently). But a big part of the problem remains obvious: There are too many Democrats running for president. On Tuesday night, there were 12 candidates onstage, out of 17 (the five who didn’t make the cut, Michael Bennet, Tim Ryan, Steve Bullock, Marianne Williamson, and John Delaney, should take the hint).
But a dozen candidates is still far too many. Back in July, Slate staffers recommended six candidates who should drop out immediately (only two of our selections, Bill de Blasio and John Hickenlooper, actually did). Despite those lackluster results, we thought we’d try it again.
If you’re going to object to being called a “Russian asset and an Assad apologist,” as Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard did, it’s not such a great idea to repeat those governments’ talking points to the extent that the audience starts to wonder if your programming is malfunctioning. Gabbard used the phrase “regime change war” a total of 11 times during the debate—including six times in one answer. In addition to being strange, the repeated characterization is just plain wrong.