The Debate Questions You Didn’t Expect (and That One You Totally Did)

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CBS’s Democratic debate on Tuesday was a confusing, tumultuous mess with the candidates repeatedly screaming over each other and co-moderators Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell seemingly unable to keep the event from devolving into chaos. Yet, the moderators deserve some credit for occasionally, and surprisingly, asking a few tough questions. Here’s the questions you might not have expected (and the one you definitely did). 

Co-moderator and Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan — after an hour and a half — got to the question that millions of Americans are concerned about. Bernie Sanders’s embrace of dictators. She demanded, “You've praised the Chinese Communist party for lifting more people out of extreme poverty than any other country. You also have a track record of expressing sympathy for socialist governments in Cuba and in Nicaragua. Can Americans trust that a democratic socialist president will not give authoritarians a free pass?” 

 

 

An hour and 41 minutes into the debate, chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett pressed Sanders about supporting Israel and whether he would move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv: 

 

 

If elected, Senator Sanders, you would be America's first Jewish president. You recently called a very prominent well-known American Israel lobby a platform for, quote, “bigotry.” What would you say to American Jews who might be concerned you're not from their perspective supportive enough of Israel and, specifically, sir, would you move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv? 

O’Donnell opened the show by suprisingly pressing the socialist on the very strong economy: 

 

 

Senator Sanders, we haven't had a national unemployment rate this low for this long in 50 years. Here in South Carolina, the unemployment rate is even lower. How will you convince voters that a democratic socialist can do better than President Trump with the economy? 

The question you did see coming? King cheerleaded for nanny state proponent Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to ban large sodas: 

 

 

Mayor Bloomberg, as mayor of New York, you declared war of obesity. You banned trans fats from restaurants and you tried to do the same with large sugary drinks. So, if you become president, will you push those policies on the national level as well? 

(....)

Before I leave you, are New Yorkers living longer because of your policies?

Another liberal friendly question came when King pushed for gun control to stop the “gun crisis.” 

A partial transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more. 

CBS News Democratic Debate
02/25/20
8:04 p.m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: Senator Sanders, we haven't had a national unemployment rate this low for this long in 50 years. Here in South Carolina, the unemployment rate is even lower. How will you convince voters that a democratic socialist can do better than president trump with the economy? 

(....)

9:06 p.m. Eastern

GAYLE KING: We're going to go to mayor Bloomberg. We're going to change topics. As mayor of New York, you declared war of obesity. You banned trans fats from restaurants and you tried to do the same with large sugary drinks. So, if you become president, will you push those policies on the national level as well?

(....)

9:08 p.m. Eastern

KING: Before I leave you, are New Yorkers living longer because of your policies?

(....)

9:32 p.m. Eastern

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Sanders, it's in the same theme, sir. You've praised the Chinese Communist party for lifting more people out of extreme poverty than any other country. You also have a track record of expressing sympathy for socialist governments in Cuba and in Nicaragua. Can Americans trust that a democratic socialist president will not give authoritarians a free pass? 

(....)

9:41 p.m. Eastern

MAJOR GARRETT: Senator Sanders. I have a question for you, sir. You're the frontrunner in this race. You're on the ballot in South Carolina. If elected, Senator Sanders, you would be America's first Jewish president. You recently called a very prominent well-known American Israel lobby a platform for, quote, “bigotry.” What would you say to American Jews who might be concerned you're not from their perspective supportive enough of Israel and, specifically, sir, would you move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv? 

 

NB Daily Debates CBS Video Gayle King Major Garrett Margaret Brennan Norah O'Donnell Bernie Sanders Michael Bloomberg
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