Debate winners and losers, Warren on the defensive, and what we’re watching for before the next Democratic debate.
Hannah Gaber, USA TODAYThe biggest debate of the election cycle was chippy.With 12 candidates vying for voters attention at Tuesday’s debate in Westerville, Ohio, the White House contenders threw sharper jabs at each other and competed to outdo each other in their expressions of outrage over President Donald Trump.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideSen. Bernie Sanders returned to the debate stage two weeks after suffering a heart attack and resumed his call for a “political revolution.” Billionaire activist Tom Steyer made his debate stage debut, but struggled to get much speaking time.Here are some of the other big takeaways from Tuesday night’s debate in suburban Columbus.1: Biden addressed, but didn’t quite blunt, Trump’s smears on son’s Ukraine businessFormer Vice President Joe Biden didn’t take any incoming fire from his Democratic rivals over Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings, but he fell short of putting the issue to rest.Debate blog: Elizabeth Warren takes rivals’ shots, Joe Biden pivots on Ukraine and other top Democrat debate momentsAhead of Tuesday night’s debate, Biden vowed that he would not allow a family member or administration officials to be involved with foreign businesses should he be elected president. Hunter Biden acknowledged in a television interview that aired Tuesday that he probably wouldn’t have been picked to serve on Ukraine energy company Burisma Holdings board if his last name wasn’t Biden, but insisted he did nothing improper.But asked directly by CNN co-moderator Anderson Cooper why it was OK for his son to serve on a foreign board when he was previously vice president but not if he wins the presidency, Biden didn’t directly answer.”Look, my son did nothing wrong,” Biden replied. “I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. And that’s what we should be focusing on.” With each passing day, House Democrats receive more incriminating testimony in their ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Trump over his pushing Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings in the Eastern European nation.Trump, while damaged by the scandal, has managed to make Hunter Biden’s position serving on Burisma an ever-present issue in the campaign that shows no sign of disappearing. Biden has complained that the media has paid too much attention to his son’s business dealings, despite no evidence of impropriety.The younger Biden did not have any past experience or technical background that would make him specially qualified to serve on the energy company’s board.More: Hunter Biden will resign from board of Chinese firm, says he won’t serve on foreign boards if Joe Biden elected presidentIn his Good Morning America interview, Hunter Biden pointed to his past service on the board of Amtrak — a position his father appointed him to — as experience that helped qualify him for a job that reportedly paid $50,000 per month.After Hunter Biden’s interview aired Tuesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to gloat, “Now Sleepy Joe has real problems! Reminds me of Crooked Hillary and her 33 deleted emails, not recoverable.”Hunter Biden was really bad on @GMA. Now Sleepy Joe has real problems! Reminds me of Crooked Hillary and her 33,000 deleted Emails, not recoverable!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2019The Bidens still have work to do to clear the murky waters Trump has created.2: Surging Elizabeth Warren gets to feel sting of being a front-runnerIs it safe to declare Elizabeth Warren the co-frontrunner with Biden?From the moment he entered the race in April, Biden — a well-known commodity with the imprimatur of his association with former President Obama — was the frontrunner in polls.Recent polling suggests that has changed. Warren has come out on top in eight of the past 15 national polls, including a national survey by Quinnipiac University that showed her three percentage points ahead of Biden. It was the third Quinnipiac poll in a row where she’s led Biden.But with her exalted status, the punches from her Democratic rivals are starting to get harder.South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg hit hard early in the debate, hammering Warren for refusing to directly answer a question about whether Medicare for All would lead to a middle-class tax hike.”Well, we heard it tonight, a yes or no question that didn’t get a yes or no answer,” Buttigieg said. “Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular. Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything. Except this.”Warren retorted that overall costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations but down for middle class families.“I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle class families.” Warren sai