Guthrie Frets Over ‘Circular Firing Squad’ at Dem Debate

Listen to the Article!

While discussing Wednesday night’s contentious Democratic debate, on Thursday morning, NBC’s Today show co-host Savannah Guthrie worried that the “non-Sanders” candidates were in a “circular firing squad” and wondered if the “moderate lane” would start to consolidate in the coming weeks.

During the segment, political analyst and former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill observed that the debate “was awkward to watch because it was so negative, but they all felt the urgency of ‘Right now we have got to stay in this thing.’” Guthrie then lamented: “Yeah, so much for the Democrats were all going to be united and the 11th Commandment and ‘Thou shall not criticize another Democrat.’”

 

 

The anchor specifically cited a harsh exchange between Senator Klobuchar and Mayor Buttigieg: “Because, I mean, it got personal between Amy and Pete, it really felt like a visceral dislike of one another.”

Moments later, Guthrie warned: “Because it is a circular firing squad in the non-Sanders lane. And as that all goes on, Sanders is just seeming to be collecting delegates....I mean, he seems to be on a glide path at the moment.”

McCaskill agreed: “Well, he certainly is in a commanding position right now.” However, she urged: “Let’s wait and see how everyone votes on Super Tuesday....Who emerges on Super Tuesday, even as a close second? Maybe somebody does, maybe somebody doesn’t.”

Guthrie followed up: “After Super Tuesday do you think the so-called moderate lane just winnows and therefore you have a one – Sanders versus some moderate who emerges after that?”

McCaskill predicted: “There’ll be a lot of pressure on three of those six candidates to leave the race and hopefully embrace another – one other candidate so that you begin to see just a one-on-one contrast between Bernie and his view of a democratic socialist versus some of the candidates that have a more pragmatic approach.”

Of course the reality is there are no moderates in the current Democratic field, it’s just a myth pushed by the liberal media to portray any 2020 contender who isn’t a self-avowed socialist to be a centrist.

Here is a full transcript of the February 20 exchange:

7:07 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: For more on last night’s debate, what it means for the race going forward, I’m joined by NBC political analyst, former Democratic Senator of Missouri Claire McCaskill. Senator, good morning to you.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Good morning.

GUTHRIE: I mean, I don’t think there’s any dispute, even from the Bloomberg folks that this was not a good debate for him. Can he overcome this? Can he basically buy more ads and hope to overcome this performance?

MCCASKILL: Well, clearly that’s going to be the strategy. I mean, this guy has unlimited resources and he has organizations on the ground in all these Super Tuesday states. I mean, there’s staff in all these states for Mike Bloomberg, so –   

GUTHRIE: But there’s some things money can’t buy, because that was a particularly weak performance. He didn’t seem to have answers. And of course he was fired on from all directions.

MCCASKILL: Yeah, it was interesting to me they were in Las Vegas where there was one of the most dramatic, brutal shootings in our country’s history. Very little time on guns. And frankly I was shocked that the Mayor didn’t pivot to that. Because that’s one place where he can legitimately say, “I’ve used my wealth to try to go after the NRA and go after the gun lobby.” And, frankly, it’s one of Bernie’s vulnerabilities.

GUTHRIE: It wasn’t a nimble performance. Let’s talk about Elizabeth Warren. She has proven herself again to be a very fierce debater. Does something like this, can one performance like that put her back into contention?

MCCASKILL: Well, she never really was out of contention, she’s always been hovering in the top three or four, sometimes two, was even one for a while. So, yes, I think she had a really strong performance last night. I think she realized that she can’t sit back. This was a do-or-die moment for most of these campaigns last night, and it showed. It was awkward to watch because it was so negative, but they all felt the urgency of “Right now we have got to stay in this thing.” You’re going to start seeing people drop out next month.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, so much for the Democrats were all going to be united and the 11th Commandment and “Thou shall not criticize another Democrat.” Because, I mean, it got personal between Amy and Pete, it really felt like a visceral dislike of one another.

MCCASKILL: I’m not sure that it was as much that as the two of them are going after the same votes in many ways. They’re trying to be practical, pragmatic, midwestern roots. So they’re in each other’s way, and I think Pete was trying to say, “Hey, Washington experience is not all it’s cracked up to be,” and Amy pivoted and said, “Wait a minute, you know, be in the arena for a while before you cast judgment.”

GUTHRIE: But isn’t that interesting? Because it is a circular firing squad in the non-Sanders lane. And as that all goes on, Sanders is just seeming to be collecting delegates. He’s so confident in Nevada, he’s going off to California, people are already voting there. I mean, he seems to be on a glide path at the moment.

MCCASKILL: Well, he certainly is in a commanding position right now. But we’ve learned things change. They’ve changed dramatically in this race over the last 12 months. And as some people are saying, this is when it starts really counting. Let’s wait and see how everyone votes on Super Tuesday. You know, he’s behind Biden in Texas. He’s way ahead of Biden in California. Who emerges on Super Tuesday, even as a close second? Maybe somebody does, maybe somebody doesn’t.

GUTHRIE: What did you think about Biden? Because here’s somebody who is obviously very much struggling, his campaign has telegraphed they think they’ll come in second in Nevada, they obviously need to/have to win in South Carolina. What did you think about his night?

MCCASKILL: I thought he also had a strong night. You know, debates have not been his strong suit in this deal. Last night he was stronger, more forceful than he’s been in previous debates, but so was everyone else. So the question is, does it really help him move back into a more commanding position? I’m not sure that it does.

GUTHRIE: After Super Tuesday do you think the so-called moderate lane just winnows and therefore you have a one – Sanders versus some moderate who emerges after that?

MCCASKILL: There’ll be a lot of pressure on three of those six candidates to leave the race and hopefully embrace another – one other candidate so that you begin to see just a one-on-one contrast between Bernie and his view of a democratic socialist versus some of the candidates that have a more pragmatic approach.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Senator McCaskill, we will continue to watch together. Thank you very much for getting up early, appreciate it.

MCCASKILL: You bet.

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

Sponsored Links