Opinion

KERNS: Kamala-Joe Fizzled In Detroit, But Tulsi Gabbard Shined

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Jen Kerns Contributor

As the second night of the second round of 2020 Democratic Party debates got underway, the wolf pack of underling Democratic hopefuls went after the leader of their own pack, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Despite their best attempts in their nine-to-one attack Biden came out of Wednesday night’s debate fairly unscathed, without a tuft of hair out of place.

It wasn’t bad for a guy who, after the last debate, looked as if his hopes were dashed for ever listing 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as his workplace again.

What was surprising however is that the anticipated second round of  the”Kamala v. Joe” sparring match never quite came to fruition.

California Sen. Kamala Harris didn’t appear to be her usual upbeat, feisty self. She seemed sluggish, annoyed, short on patience, and even disoriented on the details of her own healthcare plan as she stumbled over the details and statistics during the opening topic. While health care certainly isn’t Harris’ strong suit (her biography as attorney general of the largest state in the nation clearly is), it is unusual for the former prosecutor to not have a strong command of her own talking points.

That might not be a big deal for any other candidate, but Harris had the most to lose going into Wednesday night’s debate. She had a lot to live up to after her near-takedown of Biden’s entire presidential bid over his dismal civil rights record on busing and his involvement with the passage of 1994 crime bill which was responsible for the mass incarceration of predominantly African American men that, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, “fed the mass incarceration crisis” as it rose 14 percent in the years following 1994.

So, what happened to Kamala’s mojo?

As someone who has written and researched questions for presidential debates, advised candidates for debates, and stood in as candidates during debate practices, it appears to this trained eye that Harris’ team of advisers may have over-prepared her. It’s reasonable to presume that her team spent time advising her on how to recreate fireworks from the first debate. For a candidate, that kind of “over-handling” can be exhausting. Her team has not yet learned one of the most important rules of political moments on the big stage: lightning never strikes twice in the same place.

A woman who was on her game at Wednesday night’s debate, however, was Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who took full advantage to land a few punches against Harris.

When asked by CNN moderator Jake Tapper about her recent criticism of Harris’ prosecutorial record, Gabbard went for the knockout punch.

Gabbard attacked Harris for putting 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations, saying she “laughed about it” on a talk radio show when she bragged about smoking pot. Gabbard shamed Harris for refusing evidence that could have freed a man, and for keeping inmates in jail in California longer than required because their cheap labor (upon which the budget-strapped state relies for fighting wildfires) was needed longer.

The problem for Harris is that those punches landed. The audience surprisingly boo’ed Harris, who just one month ago was heralded as their hero.

Harris also lost the debate for another reason: as the sparring sequel with Biden fizzled, it yielded valuable stage time to the other eight candidates. For the first time in four debates, we heard substantive policy proposals from candidates such as New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. One can expect them to gain a few points, along with Gabbard.

In a race where momentum is everything and the clock is ticking to make a dent in Biden’s wide polling berth, Harris couldn’t afford to have an “off” night.

However, for all of Harris’ losses there was one other loser in this Debate: the American people.

The very Democrats standing on stage tonight recently demanded of CNN that no future debates contain questions which require a raising of hands to demonstrate a “yes” or “no” answer on hot-button issues.

In the first round of debates, Democratic candidates were asked to raise their hands to show whether they support the expensive “free” healthcare for illegal immigrants.

President Trump wasted no time launching an ad which featured the candidates all raising their hands in support of it.

But one can hardly blame Trump. He is simply playing within the rules of presidential politics by shining a light on the Democrats’ own answers.

The sad fact that CNN agreed to such a condition is astonishing, and the fact that Democrats even asked their left-wing Media allies to treat them with kid gloves shows how ill-prepared the Democrats are for the general election that is yet to come.

The fact that contenders for the Democratic nomination refuse to show the American people where they stand on the issues by a simple show of hands tells you everything you need to know about the current state of the Democratic Party. It’s a party that has moved so far to the left in the primary that they can’t possibly survive a general election if Americans truly know where they stand on the issues — and that is a loss for everyone.

Jen Kerns (@JenKernsUSA) served as spokeswoman for the California Republican Party; spokeswoman for California’s Proposition 8, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court; and as a Fox News writer for the 2016 U.S. presidential debates.


 The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.