NBC Debate Analysis: ‘Can We Get Rid of Some of These Candidates?’

Returning to NBC’s Today show Thursday morning to react to night two of CNN’s Democratic debate, political analyst and former Senator Claire McCaskill provided a blunt assessment of expansive field of 2020 contenders, suggesting it was time to “get rid of” some of them and “begin to focus” on the top tier of presidential candidates.

“You know what I want most of all? Can we get rid of some of these candidates?,” McCaskill asked during the discussion. Co-host Savannah Guthrie agreed: “That was my next question to you. But do you think these candidates have any incentive to get out of the race?” The former Missouri lawmaker replied:

 

 

Well, maybe if this next debate winnows the field by the requirements. I think it’s a good thing our party has done that because I’d like to see us get down to seven or eight candidates going forward so people can begin to focus on the differences and the contrasts. Right now, it’s just a blur. There’s just too damn many.

In addition to complaining about the number of candidates, McCaskill also doubled down on going after candidates who criticized President Obama’s record in office as a way of taking on Joe Biden. Fill-in co-host Willie Geist noted the trend: “But were you surprised, Senator, at the attacks on the Affordable Care Act, for example, or the attacks on President Obama’s record on immigration and deportation?”

McCaskill warned: “Very dangerous strategy I think. And if it continues, I think it could come – you know, there could be some serious splash-back on those candidates. Going after the Obama administration in a Democratic primary seems a little nutty to me.”

That statement echoed what her and other MSNBC panelists wailed about Wednesday night, immediately following the debate.

Here is a full transcript of the August 1 discussion:

7:06 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We broke down the debate’s opening night with our NBC News political analyst, former Senator Claire McCaskill yesterday. She’s back for more because now we have night two. Senator, good morning.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Good morning.

WILLIE GEIST: Good morning.

GUTHRIE: Well, we saw the former Vice President Joe Biden really taking the shots. How do you think he held up and was his performance better than the first debate? Was it good enough?

MCCASKILL: I think no question, it was much better. His – on style points, he was strong, he was aggressive. He appeared comfortable, and frankly, friendly. And you know, I think sometimes we forget when we’re picking all this apart, you know, him saying “Go to Joe” as opposed to “Text to Joe.” You know, most voters could care less about that stuff. What they want is someone that they feel comfortable with and that gets their problems. And I think he did a pretty good job. You know, they’re going to pick him – they're going to pick his bones clean, because he’s way ahead. And as long as he’s ahead, it’s gonna be incoming for Joe Biden.

GEIST: As you say, no one should be surprised that the focus was on Joe Biden, they need to knock him down a notch if they want to catch him. But were you surprised, Senator, at the attacks on the Affordable Care Act, for example, or the attacks on President Obama’s record on immigration and deportation? In other words, getting to Joe Biden through President Obama, who of course is extraordinary popular among Democrats.

MCCASKILL: Very dangerous strategy I think. And if it continues, I think it could come – you know, there could be some serious splash-back on those candidates. Going after the Obama administration in a Democratic primary seems a little nutty to me. And that’s kind of what they were doing last night. But I don’t think Joe Biden did a good enough job explaining what the positives of Obama’s record, as it relates to immigration, and I don’t think he did a good enough job, frankly, explaining how badly this administration is trying to tear apart the protections that ObamaCare brought the United States.

GEIST: What about Senator Kamala Harris? Most people felt like she had a breakout moment at the first debate. So lots of eyes on her, now the attacks were coming to her as well on the second debates. How did she fare?

GUTHRIE: I think she did okay. You know, clearly, it appeared that maybe she wasn’t as used to being attacked. And when you start getting attacked, that’s the moment you have to really stay calm and remain friendly and I think that maybe wobbled her just a bit, but overall, she’s a very strong, smart woman. She will stay in this until much, much later in the process.

You know what I want most of all? Can we get rid of some of these candidates?

GUTHRIE: I – that was my next question to you. But do you think these candidates have any incentive to get out of the race?

MCCASKILL: Well, maybe if this next debate winnows the field by the requirements. I think it’s a good thing our party has done that because I’d like to see us get down to seven or eight candidates going forward so people can begin to focus on the differences and the contrasts. Right now, it’s just a blur. There’s just too damn many.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Senator McCaskill, we always like you for being plain spoken.

MCCASKILL: There you go.

GUTHRIE: Thank you very much.

GEIST: Thanks, Senator, good to see you.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Debates Liberals & Democrats NBC Today Video Savannah Guthrie Claire McCaskill

Sponsored Links