1. Martin O'Malley. He looked presidential. He was well prepped and articulate. He used the camera well and made connection with the viewer. He seemed like a left Progressive, but mainstream enough in his presentation to win the country. He could grab O'Malley-progressive Republicans.
2. (Tied with 1) Bernie Sanders. Line of the night, unfortunately, "We are tired of your emails." Notice where Republicans would have divided, he united! Also, I figured him out tonight. I understand his appeal. No one else can do what he has done, and the Republicans, by not understanding how he is connecting, could lose to him. It is more than his policies. In fact, his policies actually would prevent him from a win in the general, but only if others discover what his real strength is. (I want to refine my explanation and will present on radio.)
3. Anderson Cooper and CNN. Neither the network or Anderson pitched softballs. They did not play favorites nor did they hold back on a single candidate. While they didn't cover the things I would have, they covered many of them and hit them as hard as I would have. The real sign will be the number of calls Jeff Zucker gets from the campaigns tomorrow telling him they were unfair.
1. Jim Webb. Stop the whining. He just didn't belong. He was at his best when you forgot he was part of the debate.
2. Lincoln Chaffee. He looked clueless and like a small town mayor. His answer on the bank bailout was perhaps the worst answer I have ever heard any candidate give. He too was at his best when he was neither seen nor heard.
3. Hillary Clinton. She reminded America why her campaign and the DNC is fighting so hard not to have debates. She looks like a slimy flip-flopping politician. She is utterly unlikable and untrustworthy. I hope she wins the nomination because, other than Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee, she is the easiest to beat.
The thing that I worry most about: The country.
The Republicans are engaged in a clown show much of the time. They, unlike the Democrats, spend most of their time fighting each other. They come off to the average person as angry, small-minded and insincere.
The Democrats are Socialists, corrupt and insincere.
The country is in real trouble.
Most Americans understand that.
Bernie Sanders is the only one coming to the table with ground-shaking ideas and those ideas are 100 years old and discredited. But the old saying: "we have to do something" comes to mind. To many, his ideas are new and he seems sincere.
Our education system is churning out people that have no idea how to engage in critical thinking, the media is in the bag for big government, big political parties and big corporations.
We as a people not only do not see the same solutions, we don't even agree on the same set of problems. From climate change to All Lives Matter. We no longer can even agree that American culture is unique and good.
We are headed for real trouble.
The next president is going to face titanic-size problems. Perhaps Lincoln-style problems. Who is big enough to unite us and lead us? Who has the moral authority?
We need real statesmen, big thinkers that understand the possibilities of the tech of tomorrow along with the hatred and bigotry on all sides (race to wealth) of today.
There is one key that pulls everyone together and only ONE candidate tonight talked about it and it is why he is drawing huge crowds.
Featured Image: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)