Full Replay: CNN Hosts Democratic Party Leadership Debate


The Democratic Party will select a new chairperson on Saturday. CNN's Chris Cuomo and Dana Bash hosted this debate between eight candidates Wednesday night for the candidates to make their cases. The candidates were: Tom Perez, Keith Ellison, Sally Boynton Brown, Jehmu Greene, Pete Buttigieg, Jamie Harrison, Peter Peckarsky, and Samuel Ronan.

The two most likely candidates are former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Rep. Keith Ellison, but former DNC chair Howard Dean endorsed 36 year old South Bend, IN mayor Pete Buttigieg this week, raising his profile.

The DNC chair candidates took turns bashing President Trump in their own unique way and talked about how to re-energize the Democratic Party, but did not disagree on much. They all pledged a unified front against the president.

Someone named Ran72ger Wednesday night in the RCP comments section of this video posted this review of the night's event. According to a cursory Google search, the text exists nowhere else. The opinions are his own:

These are my notes from the DNC debate for the Chairmanship of the party aired Wednesday night. Approximately 31 questions were asked by CNN moderators in the two hour debate. Eight candidates were on stage and participated in the debate; Tom Perez, Keith Ellison, Sally Boynton Brown, Jehmu Greene, Pete Buttigieg, Jamie Harrison, Peter Peckarsky, and Samuel Ronan. After two days of more politics, the DNC will vote for the Chair Saturday morning. These notes are in the form of question and answers (summarized).

1. Would you work with Trump or work to stop him. Perez answered need to take the fight to Trump because he wants to turn the clock back. We do that by implementing a 50 state strategy. Ellison answered that it is already clear where Trump is coming from and Ellison supports the protests all over the country. Buttigieg answered that it is not all about Trump, but we (the Dems) have to talk about our values, Trump is a computer virus in our system.

2. Discussed position on impeaching Trump. Ellison believes Trump already impeachable because he committed an impeachable offense when somebody checked into a Trump hotel. Greene answered absolutely, we have to impeach trump because he is marching us to facism.

3. Should Dems use insults against Trump like Buttigieg saying Trump is a back stabbing chicken hawk.
Buttigieg was asked that first and answered with Trump is bringing out the worst in us and we need some way to fight back. Ronan came out with Trump is a draft dodger and condems not just Trump but his administration.

4. Is going negative where you want to be? Harrison answered that the party has to paint the picture of a negative Trump. It is unprecedented to have someone who is anti-Semitic in the White House.

5. What is the case for the Dems right now? The answer was re-energize the Dem party. Trump has a done a number of things that have violated rights, but the Party has to engage by re-energizing.

6. How can Ellison criticize Trump for being anti-Semitic? Ellison answered that is not true because Jewish Organizations support me.

7. Ellison was questioned on his comment on Israel through the lens: Ellison answer was soft in that he is a stalwart champion of a two state solution

8. How do build a bridge between Hispanics and blue collar Dems We got to teach each other asking why? Buttigieg’s answer is that we are all in this together.

9. How can the Dems harness the protestor’s power to shift power in Washington. Jehmu Greene answered that she know how to move the protestor’s to effect a power shift because she had done that with her organization, Rock the Vote.

10. Should the Dems obstruct? Ronan answered can't tear one side down, absolute obstruction of Trump the right strategy

11. Is a purity test for Dems running healthy for the party? Claire McCaskill votes because of fear of losing her seat, is a purity test for Dems healthy. Perez answered challenge but let the process run its course, we have more energy than ever before. Ellison said need to be fair and square with all candidates and added that Trump stole our message We should not back off our message. Harrison went to the 2018 election that 25 Dem Senate seats are up for vote; we must not fight each other but fight the Reps running in 2018.

12. Trump asserts voter fraud? Peckarsky answered Trump can’t prove that but the perception is out there that is true. Another question was posed what would be wrong with more voter ID laws? Perez answered the ones that exist are in violation of the Constitution because the racism. Trump can’t prove 3 million votes were
fraudulent. Perez made the case on voter id-we sued Texas and won. Jehmu Greene countered with the majority of Dems believe the voter ID is okay and we need to shift to voter registration. Ellison stepped in
claiming he defeated the MN photo ID law in 2012.

13. Sanctuary States? Ellison said it is the right thing to do. It is right and proper for the people to do what they want (in their own voting area?). If sanctuary is ended, then domestic violence, rape, etc go up. Sally Boynton Brown said we need to empower our states.

14. Dem position that State should not work with ICE- Perez agreed saying that it would build a wall of distrust (between police and victims of crime?) where the victim of sexual assault does not report the crime. Jaime Harrison agreed with Perez and added that the Dems have to better with messaging since illegal entrance is a misdemeanor not a felony.

First Break.

15. Was the Dems Primary rigged or not? Which is it? Perez there was a crises (in 2016) and you have to let the primary process go. Perez would have the primary set long before candidates announce. Was it rigged or not? Perez was asked again. He waffled. Ronan answered it was rigged and has always been an insider game; Sanders was snubbed and his supporters were denied their voice at the convention. Perez again waffled again refusing to answer the question. Buttigieg answered we have got to look forward and take it to the Republicans, dodging the question. Brown answered the world has moved to a place where the primary system is no longer serving the people. The issue of rigging has to be dealt with. Ellison was asked, was it rigged or not? He answered that Brazile apologized for what happened and the real problem is ahead of us.
Ellison claimed he supported both Hillary and Sanders and Trump is the problem. Trump has to be stopped and the Dems have to be the agents (doing the stopping?). Harrison went to actual vote saying are we saying that rigged means votes were stolen. No votes were stolen. Ronen came back with the system is not transparent we need to get rid of super delegates. Greene added that super delegates need to be looked at but the general election was rigged by Russian meddling. Retire the Super delegate system.

16. Hillary got three million more, would it be good for Hillary to run again? Brown answered that the DNC is not to be the one to hold an opinion Peter Peckarsky’s said the chair has to be impartial. The whole DNC has to be impartial. Harrison added whoever wants to run should run. The American voter decides.

17. Party got hacked by the Russian government-what are you going to do to protect against hacking? Buttigieg is an info guy and Ronan is an info guy but both failed to articulate an answer that addressed the type of hacking that happened to the DNC in 2016.

Second break

18. Dems are not connecting with voters? Buttigieg said you gotta show up in all 50 states to get votes. Talk to people about their lives, get to know them.

19. Hillary failed Wisconsin, Michigan, and PA in part because of TPP/NAFTA. Perez was in favor of TPP why should you be chair? Perez answered talking about labor credentials as Secretary of Labor then shifted the blame by saying, but we didn’t campaign in those states. TPP was dead by August, said Perez. How are we going to move forward, lift wages, etc is how Perez ended his answer.

20. On Bill Mahre’s program, Ellison said that the Dems should kill the second amendment. Ellison was asked to explain his quote. Ellison started his answer by saying he was misquoted and that he supports gun rights. He then drifted to what matters in 7th MN CD is that people want or are afraid of losing jobs. CNN came back with the exact words and Ellison stumbled on the answer the second time because he could not refute
a comment made on Bill Mahre. Buttigieg jumped in with there are ways about talking about gun control by talking personal approach and talking common sense. Nobody else jumped in.

21. Brown was asked about her statement she made that her job is to listen and be a voice and shut other white people down when they want to interrupt. Is it your job to shame white people? Brown stumbled and went back to rural America switching the subject.

22. Millennials and how to get them energized was asked next. Ronan answered saying that having
the thumb on the scales inside the party hurt with the Millennials. Focusing on attacking Trump is a grievous
mistake. Millennials believe their voice is drowned out by money. Perez moved in with the attitude of the DNC that tells the millennials to shut up is wrong. Jehmu Greene thought budget reform had to be done to reflect that today the millennials are the party and with millennials we have to conduct business differently to
encourage participation. Put a millennial in as a head of the DNC was Buttigieg (a millennial) answer.

23. What should be done to rebuild the state parties? This produced some startling facts about the status of the Dems, they are weak at the state level and gone is the vaunted grass roots organization. Harrison answered the question with Obama’s OFA killed state parties. OFA caused the change and money in state parties are broke because the OFA is sucking them dry (my phraseology). Perez agreed with Harrison and talked about a service culture. The real shoe fell when one said that the state Dems cannot afford cyber security. Remember, Trump has maintained that RNC could not be hacked because they were prepared for attacks.

24. Only 6 states have Dem govenors and legislators, Ellison what would you do? He answered that we
need to get control of re-districting and that means winning in 2017 in New Jersey and Virginia and in 2018 to control re-districting in 2020. Peckarsky went with we (all the candidates) will all do the same thing as DNC chair, but we need to protect the voting process –then came a big CNN interrupt? What just happened?

Third Break

25. What did Ellison think of Trump praising him? Ellison answered it pains me to say those two words Trump praised. He then transitioned to Trump took our issues on trade and jobs and said our economy has been failing for the past 40 years.

26. A response to Trump changing Obama policy with his new transgender guidance was asked? Buttigieg opened with how can Trump be so cruel because the students are being picked on. Buttigieg talked about being with lawyers at a school where he was helping to keep families together and the bullying these students could get. He concluded that Dems are the true party of families. Make sure all of our citizens treated equally was Brown’s comment. Perez used an Anoka MN case to address horrific acts of bullying of LGBT that he successfully prosecuted (as Secretary of Labor?) and ended with if you come to Perez, this is a safe room.

27. Perez was asked why he was not at the women’s march? We marched elsewhere at another time and he was doing important business building the Dems party. Brown wanting to correct something stated that OFA did not kill state parties, Citizen United killed the state parties.

28. Ellison was asked why he wasn’t there (women’s march)? He was rebuilding the party. Harrison was not there, but he was in South Carolina he had an Obamacare rally and followed that with a MLK rally. Buttigieg was not a Washington insider and he was running his city (mayor). We need that as a head of the DNC, a Washington outsider. Greene rambled

29. Was the influx of corporate money causing working people to separate from the Dems party? Perez said
he is not taking any money, but rambled after that. Ronan answered that we have pushed Middle Americans out of the party, we need something to build on and fight on. Big business is not the answer. Energize, Peckarsky said, by raising funds in other ways. Brown pointed out we have to get the money out of politics.

30. Ellison and Perez had dinner the night before and CNN asked did you cut a deal? Ellison answered if I win, I can count on Tom’s support and if Tom wins he can count on me. Is it important that Dems new chair recognize fairness by avoiding such potential show of collusion? Buttigieg said the system is not perfect.

Final break

31. Why should you be DNC chair was the finalquestion? Peckarsky said he understands the election system; Ronan answered I saw a lack of commitment of our public leaders, engaging what has been lost in the party; Brown said that young women do not have to wait to accomplish and that the DNC can be a service based organization; Greene answered we need someone to increase turnout, we need someone to go into
communities, we need someone to innovate, we need someone to lead and stand strong; Harrison pointed out that the DNC chair is a job and that job is to build a party and I have done that; Buttigieg answered this is a test for the DNC to change and if we have to recognize our future is outside Washington. Ellison said he is the right person because he has the burning desire to represent all the people and because he has spiked the vote in Minnesota delivering two senators and one govenor; Perez wants to take the fight to Trump and take the vision of inclusion. He understands the intersections of all the parts of the party’s supporters.

The vote of 447 Dems will be held on Saturday Morning. After watching the polish of Democrats from Adlai Stevenson to Obama, the eight were a ragtag group. All lacked political common sense. The Dems are in trouble.

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