The second Democratic debate was packed with presidential candidates, and frontrunner Joe Biden took a huge beating from pretty much all of them, according to both news pundits and late night program hosts.
The former Vice President’s performance was widely panned, and even the usually adoring progressive television show hosts noticed.
“I hope they took dental photographs of Biden before this debate, because they’re going to need a reference to put his teeth back in,” liberal late night host Stephen Colbert said.
He was speaking immediately after the debate in a live recap just after the closing remarks. He went on, highlighting the conflict between Senator Kamala Harris of California and Biden. Harris repeatedly pointed out Biden’s positions on busing as a US Senator in the 1970s.
“I believe Harris on busing, because she clearly just took Biden to school,” Colbert quipped.
Comedy Central Daily Show host Trevor Noah also highlighted the heated conflict between Harris and Biden.
“Holy sh-t! She just pulled an M. Night Shyamalan,” Noah said, responding to Harris hitting Biden for praising segregationist Democratic lawmakers Jim Eastland and Hermy Talmadge. “She was black the whole movie! I didn’t see that coming, did you see that coming? That moment was so brutal on Joe Biden, for the first time I wanted to give him a massage. And it didn’t get any better from there.”
“At this point, Kamala was busing Biden right out of the debate. She was killing it. Everything she said made sense. She was connecting with the crowd.”’
It is rare to hear progressive late night hosts mock Democrat candidates, particularly the usually adored Biden. Of the ten candidates on the stage, Biden took the brunt of the derision from the other nine, who took turns pointing out his political missteps and questionable history in the 1970s and 80s. Harris scored more hits on Biden as the night continued, but the other candidates joined in.
“It was clear everyone wanted a shot at Biden tonight,” NBC host Seth Myers said during a post debate roundup. “Man, who didn’t get a crack at Biden during this debate? Surprised one of the moderators didn’t go ‘hey man you were great in Gran Torino.’”
While other candidates spoke out against Biden and went on the attack, most hosts focused on Kamala Harris and the busing issue. Tonight Show Host Jimmy Fallon spoke about the pile-on attack on Biden, dubbing the debate “Operation Destroy Joe Biden”.
“Everyone went after Biden but with 10 people onstage it seemed less like a debate and more of a lightning round,” Fallon said.
This is just the first of many debates to come, and talk show hosts are likely looking forward to the next round and more material from Biden, Harris and the rest of the candidates as the year progresses.