The two Democratic presidential contenders agreed on short-term measures to address the COVID-19 outbreak, but disagreed about plenty of other things.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood behind lecterns 6 feet apart in CNN’s Washington, D.C., studio. Instead of shaking hands as they walked on stage, the two Democratic presidential candidates bumped elbows. There was no audience to cheer them on.
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden and Sanders participated in a somewhat surreal 11th presidential primary debate — and the first in which the two Democratic front-runners were able to go head-to-head.
The COVID-19 outbreak, which has the potential to infect millions of Americans, has completely upended presidential politics; both campaigns have told staff to work from home and have canceled all public appearances, opting to do virtual rallies and town halls instead.
But despite this national emergency, voters in Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Arizona are scheduled to go to the polls on Tuesday, the day that will in all likelihood determine the outcome of the presidential primary.
Everything is looking in Biden’s favor. Sanders has had a series of bad election nights, starting with the South Carolina primary, and Tuesday looks like it could be another sweep for the former vice president. Sanders won California, the state with the primary’s biggest delegate haul, but still lags behind Biden in the tally by more than 150 delegates.
The Sanders team was hoping a spectacularly good debate performance on the senator’s part ― or a disastrous one on Biden’s ― could potentially turn the tides. But Sunday night didn’t deliver on either front, and the debate was completely overshadowed by a global public health crisis. Here are four takeaways.