Bernie's Strong—but Risky—Debate in Brooklyn

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

It’s been a while, but the debates are back! Well, a debate is back, as the Democratic candidates met on a stage in Brooklyn Thursday night for their first meeting in more than a month. And it was a fierce one, as both candidates came out hard. The politics crew liveblogged the whole thing, and here’s my wrap:

The Democratic candidates for president hadn’t faced off on a debate stage for more than a month before they stepped on to a stage in Brooklyn Thursday night. And by all indications, they’d both been holding back a number of punches they were itching to throw.

The meeting between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton was an often tense, heated affair, with each candidate taking hard swipes at each other. There was none of the kumbayah of previous debates, in which they had criticized each other but taken care to insist that their real opponent was the Republican Party. On Thursday, they targeted each other directly. At one point, Wolf Blitzer, like a disapproving national father, felt compelled to cut in. "You're both screaming at each other,” he implored. “The viewers won't be able to hear either of you."

Clinton pursued a strategy of hugging President Obama close—closer even, perhaps, than she had done in previous debates, which was no mean feat. Sanders, meanwhile, worked to paint Clinton as a mealy-mouthed candidate of a broken status quo. While each candidate outflanked the other at times, Sanders delivered the stronger performance, trapping Clinton repeatedly and delivering sharp lines. But the Vermont senator also pursued a bold and risky line of argument on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one that could be politically hazardous even within his own party.

Read the whole thing here.