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KIRO Radio, KTTH hosts react to fiery Democratic debate

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on stage during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Texas Southern University's Health and PE Center on September 12, 2019 in Houston, Texas. McNamee/Getty Images)

Joe Biden parried attack after attack from liberal rivals Thursday night on everything from health care to immigration in a debate that showcased profound ideological divides between the Democratic Party’s moderate and progressive wings.

The prime-time debate also elevated several struggling candidates, giving them a chance to introduce themselves to millions of Americans who are just beginning to follow the race.

Despite a night where Biden had some strong moments, at others, he stumbled to fend off his Democratic opponents.

“I’m going to say what some are thinking,” noted KIRO Nights host Gee Scott. “Joe Biden will get destroyed by Trump if he wins the Dem nomination.”

Meanwhile, attacks against Biden regarding his age from Julian Castro caught flack, even as it seemed to help the former Vice President’s closest rivals for 2020.

“Attacking Biden won’t benefit Castro,” said KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “People aren’t choosing between Biden and Casto. It benefits Sanders, Warren, and probably Harris.”

Unlike prior debates, where Biden struggled for words and seemed surprised by criticism from fellow Democrats, he largely delivered crisp, aggressive responses. He called Sanders “a socialist,” a label that could remind voters of the senator’s embrace of democratic socialism. And Biden slapped at Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax.

A two-term vice president under Barack Obama, Biden unequivocally defended his former boss, who came under criticism from some candidates for deporting immigrants and not going far enough on health care reform.

Relative high points, though, he also raised some eyebrows on both sides of the aisle when he declared that nobody should go to jail for non-violent crimes.

Perhaps one of the more intriguing questions of the night came when candidates were asked what their biggest setback has been. And while many in the press expressed skepticism about some answers, Seattle’s Morning News host Dave Ross was impressed.

“Seeing some journalistic cynicism about the life stories the candidates are telling in response to ‘your biggest setback.’ But I find this to be a refreshing change, and a reminder you don’t jump into a race at this level unless you have a passion.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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