On Tuesday, Oct. 14, CNN and the New York Times held the fourth Democratic debate, hosting 12 candidates in Westerville, Ohio. With impeachment fresh in the minds of candidates and viewers, the presidential candidates had the opportunity to comment on the recent interactions of President Trump with the Ukranian government, as well as other hot-button issues.
While in the past, candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden have been at the center of attack in the debates, this time the main target was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
The offense on Warren comes as a result of her rising popularity, because of which the other candidates want to bring her down.
According to CNN journalists Chris Cillizza and Harry Enten, this debate “proved, very clearly, that no matter what the polls show, her rivals believe her to be the one to beat in this race.”
Since she announced her candidacy, Warren has been a popular candidate with intriguing plans for universal childcare and eliminating student debt. She is known as the “ideas” candidate, according to CNN, with a thorough plan for almost everything, making her intimidating to other presidential hopefuls.
Seeing the debate as an opportunity to shake up the rankings, various candidates took aim at Warren from all angles. Prior to the debate Biden needed to maintain his first place lead in the polls, and other candidates, such as Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, had room to move up from fifth and ninth place, respectively, according to CNN.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg already had an attack against Warren lined up in the question presented to him, when he was asked about previously calling Warren “evasive” in describing how she would pay for Medicare for All. He then doubled down this statement, citing her response from just a few minutes prior where she would not directly say if she would raise taxes for the middle class.
Seeing this opportunity to present himself in a more moderate light than Warren, Buttigieg said that his plan is “Medicare for All who want it.” Despite his attempts to gain ground, Buttigieg maintains his fourth place ranking, according to CNN.
Other rivals like Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., added on more criticism for p Warren’s healthcare plan, with Klobuchar calling it a “pipe dream.” For Klobuchar this meant an opportunity to come up from her ninth place ranking, and for Biden, an effort to keep his first place spot.
Sen. Kamala Harris chose not to focus on how Warren plans to fund Medicare for All, but she instead criticized Warren for not supporting her in calling for Twitter to ban President Trump from the social media platform.
Warren responded by talking about the grander scheme of corporation corruption and campaign finance violations, rather than focusing on the smaller issue of President Trump’s Twitter account.
At the end of the day, Warren was the only person that majorly benefitted from being attacked and having to defend herself, taking down Biden and securing a first place lead following the debate. While other candidates tried to improve their own ranking and show they could spar with the best, Warren’s momentum is too strong to be shaken.