The presidential race’s GOP front-runner announced very early this morning, while the rest of us were sleeping, that he had decided to lend a much-needed note of Trumpiness to tonight’s CNN debate we all aren’t waiting breathlessly for – the one featuring the Democratic candidates.

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 04: Julia Hicks wears glasses with Democratic donkeys on them during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC that will run through September 7, will nominate U.S. President Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The first Dem debate starts at 8:30 PM ET at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. It features Hillary Clinton, Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders and Those Other Guys – former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee – but, alas, no Joe Biden. (Sorry, CNN.)

Anderson Cooper is chief air traffic controller tonight, joined by CNN’s Dana Bash and CNN en Espanol’s Juan Carlos Lopez. Don Lemon, CNN’s popular on-air loose cannon, also will ask questions, though the network has tried to wrangle him — to whatever degree that’s possible — by assigning him to ask questions he’s selected from pre-screened Facebook and Instagram questions.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:25 pm

CNN says this thing will start at 5:30 PT, but we’re guessing 5:40 after 10 minutes of hyper-buildup.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:27 pm

Trump explaining to Fox News why he’s tweeting:
“Well, a lot of people have asked me to. I have 4 and a half and I have 4 and a half or 5 million on Facebook and they’ve sort of merged. I have over 10 million people and it’s been an amazing thing. It’s like owning a newspaper without the losses, it’s sort of great and it’s just been amazing. I don’t need a lot of sleep. I enjoy my life. If you enjoy your life, you don’t have to sleep so much, What happened was, a lot of people have been tweeting, ‘will you please tweet?’ and I said well it’s going to be a pretty boring debate, I think…. we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:28 pm

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:31 pm

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:33 pm

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:34 pm

CNN has been reporting on nothing but this debate all day. It’s a good thing there’s nothing else going on in the world. 

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:36 pm

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:36 pm

HBO said today that Bernie Sanders will be the first guest on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday. He’ll have about as much time winner over the crowd as Taylor Swift at an iHeartRadio festival.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:39 pm

Attention presidential wannabes: This is what two terms in office does to a person. That’s 2007 Barack Obama on the left, if you’re scoring along at home.

2015 Obama seems like he’s got that old Bob Seger lyric stuck in his head: “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:41 pm

Martin O’Malley just got the kind of polite applause usually reserved for when a one-hit wonder says to the concert crowd, “Here’s another one from our new album.”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:43 pm

Let’s hope Sheryl Crow doesn’t end the National Anthem with 25 repeated choruses like she does on her records.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:43 pm

Sheryl Crow hits the high notes on the National Anthem without splitting her leather pants — but just barely

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:46 pm

We just got ads for Bridge of Spies, Spectre and Suffragette — what, no Our Brand is Crisis?

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:47 pm

Play ball! Let’s hope Jim Webb doesn’t try to take Clinton out with a wide slide into second base.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:48 pm

How about that game show background music As Anderson Cooper explained the rules…

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:50 pm

Gov. Chafee: Does a guy who ran the smallest state in the union — Pop. 1.05 million — really want to start his bio with “Not only will Americans be electing a new president next year, we also will be electing a world leader”?

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:50 pm

 Chafee’s pointed opening talking point: “I’m very proud I have had no scandals.I have high ethical standards” …

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:52 pm

Fox News, I agree. Circle gets the square.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:53 pm

Webb’s opening statement talking point was to point a picture of himself. Also, pointedly:   “I know where my loyalties are.”

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:55 pm

O’Malley opening statement described Obama: “We elected a president, not a magician”…

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20155:56 pm

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20155:58 pm

Sanders’ opening statement just upped the temperature on stage about 20 degrees:  our campaign finance system is corrupt and undermining American democracy…Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity.. we have a moral obligation to transfer away from fossil fuel and leave this planet a habitable planet for our children and our grandchildren.”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:00 pm

And who are you wearing, Anderson?

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:01 pm

Clinton’s opening statement money quotes: “Right now the wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much”…big applause for paid family leave “and join the rest of the world.”… “Fathers will be able to say to their daughters ‘You too can grow up to be president.’ “

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:02 pm

Ocean’s Five.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:03 pm

This is the portion where Anderson Cooper reads well rehearsed questions and Clinton gives well rehearsed answers. On charges she flip flops:  “I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:03 pm

Cooper to Clinton: “Just for the record, are you a progressive or a moderate?” Reply: “I’m a progressive — but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.”

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:04 pm

Sanders explains Democratic Socialism: What Democratic Socialism is is about saying it’s immoral and wrong that the top 1% own almost as much as bottom 90%..”

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:06 pm

Where does Cooper go from here. He just asked the two money questions of Hillary and Bernie. To Hil: will you say anything to get elected? To Bernie: How can you get elected as a Democratic Socialist? Any viewers looking for early exit can now officially tune out.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:06 pm

Cooper immediately hits Sanders on his socialist bent: “I think we need to look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:06 pm

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:07 pm

Danish American vote just down the drain for Dems this Denmark dissing…

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:09 pm

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:11 pm

Former Baltimore’s mayor, O’Malley asked why should American vote for him when they see what going on in city he ran.  He insists his administration “gave our city a better future” and “saved over 1,000 lives in Baltimore.”

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:12 pm

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:13 pm

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:16 pm

The Dems certainly aren’t attacking one another so far tonight.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:17 pm

Sanders just got through the worst part of the night but barely, clinging to his carefully worded position on gun control. That’s as bad as it’s going to get for Sanders tonight.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:19 pm

Sanders just got through the worst part of the night but barely, clinging to his carefully worded position on gun control. That’s as bad as it’s going to get for Sanders tonight. He used the “I come from a rural state” explanation, saying views there are different than elsewhere “whether we liked it or not.”

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:20 pm

Sanders just got through the worst part of the night but barely, clinging to his carefully worded position on gun control. That’s as bad as it’s going to get for Sanders tonight. He used the “I come from a rural state” explanation, saying views there are different than elsewhere “whether we liked it or not,” but insisted he was a guy who could make a compromise.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:20 pm

Sanders ends a testy little dust-up with O’Malley over gun control legislation by saying, “You have not been in the United States Congress.”

Check and mate.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:23 pm

Chafee says he’ll “bring the gun lobby in and say ‘We’ve got to change this — where can we find common ground?” 

My guess is everyone watching this with Wayne LaPierre just took a drink.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:24 pm

Sanders calls Syria “a quagmire in a quagmire.” Paging Merriam-Webster.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:25 pm

Sanders: “Syria a quagmire in a quagmire….I will do everything I can to make sure United States not get involved in another quagmire like Iraq…the worst blunder in history of this country.” He said he does not favor American boots on the ground there. “Nobody does” interrupted Clinton. 

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:25 pm

Oh yeah, Dana Bash is a moderator also. I’d forgotten.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:27 pm

First time tonight Hillary Clinton plays one of her big Experience Cards: “I spent a lot of time with [Obama] in the Situation Room” while talking about Middle East

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:29 pm

Sanders: Coalitions = good; U.S. acting unilaterally = bad.

ABC — easy as 1-2-3.
Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:31 pm

O’Malley punches up a John Quincy Adams quote. Would have been a good throw-down-the-mic moment.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:31 pm

Webb wants to play too, guys.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:32 pm

O’Malley dings Clinton: “Leading us into Iraq under false pretenses one of worst blunders in modern American history. The reason people are still angry about it lot of legislators got railroaded. Clinton counters: “I was very happy when O’Malley endorsed me for president in 2008.” Insert “With friends like that” joke of choice…

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:33 pm

The moderators are cutting the candidates off really quickly. They need to find some effective play-them-off music.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:35 pm

Sanders: “I think Mr. Putin is going to regret what he’s doing.” Somewhere in Moscow, there was just a helluva borscht spit take.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:36 pm

Sanders paused for a nanosecond and Cooper jumped in with snark. There’s moving the debate along and then there’s trying to make yourself one of the debators. These CNN moderators less smooth than the network’ GOP debate team.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:36 pm

Webb wins the game-face trophy tonight.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:38 pm

O’Malley and Webb try to lightly ding, while also exculpating, Clinton on Benhazi. O’Malley calls it part of general failure of the country’s investing in human intelligence. Webb says it was not about Benghazi per se, but inevitability of how we intervene in countries.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:39 pm

Is Bernie hinting at a Sanders-Webb ticket?

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:41 pm

Cooper: “Thirty seconds apiece: Who or what is the greatest national security threat to the United States?”

Now give me 200 words on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:42 pm

Sanders’ answer: Climate change.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:42 pm

Candidates asked beauty pageant question: What is greatest national security threat:
O’Malley, ISIL
Clinton: Continue threat from spread of nuclear weapons that can fall into the wrong hands.
Sanders: If we do not address climate change… the planet we are leaving our kids may not be inhabitable
Webb: Cyber warfare.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:45 pm

OK, this is the third or fourth time we’ve seen the ad for taking your BMW to the dealer for service rather than the local grease monkey. Seriously, BMW, who the hell do you think is WATCHING this debate?

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:46 pm

Heeeeeeere’s the Clinton email question…

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:48 pm

Caption contest, Deadliners. Replies in the comments section.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:48 pm

Clinton finally answers The Email Question: “I have taken responsibility for it. I did say it was a mistake. You’re right. I been asking to testify for some time and in public which not originally agreed to. This committee basically is basically an arm of the RNC. It is a partisan, as admitted by House Majority Leader McCarthy to drive down my poll numbers. I am still standing, happy to be part of this debate.” Ends with Don’t Waste My Time Anderson.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:50 pm

Sanders gets the biggest cheer of the night: “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”

Semi-standing-O.
Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:50 pm

Bernie Sanders: The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damned emails!” Clinton giggles . They shake hands and she says Thank you Bernie. Audience is on its feet. Cooper seems deflated. “I know that plays well in this room,” he says petulantly, and continues to pursue…

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:52 pm

Cooper asks Chafee about her emails; Chafee says it shows we need “the best of ethical standards in a president.” Cooper, hoping to get something going, asked if Clinton wants to respond. “No,” Clinton says.  Audience erupts.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:52 pm

“Dammit, which channel is the Mets game on?”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:53 pm

And the first tech flub happens on Don Lemon’s first appearance. Of course it did.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:53 pm

Don Lemon finally is heard from, introducing video question asking each candidate to answer: “Do black lives matter?”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:56 pm

Clinton: “We need a new New Deal for communities of color and the poor.”

“Five-year plans and New Deals/wrapped in golden chains/And I wonder/still I wonder/who’ll stop the rain?”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20156:58 pm

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20156:58 pm

 “You’re one of the 1%,” Gloria Vanderbilt’s son asks Clinton, wondering how she can represent the 99%. 

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:01 pm

“Shadow banking”: Can I use the Dark Web to balance my checking account?

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:02 pm

Bernie Sanders goes third person!

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:02 pm

Jim Webb has spent a big chunk of his time complaining that he’s not getting enough time.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:04 pm

Did Lincoln Chafee check out so he can be first in line for the valet?

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:07 pm

Clinton brags about “being on the forefront of climate change starting in 2009…”

And the 2006 Oscar for Best Documentary goes to … An Inconvenient Truth.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:07 pm

First real gang-up on Clinton on stage is over longtime liberal anger at Clinton administration for knocking down regulation of big banks in the late ’90s. She would not acknowledge the 90’s…

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:09 pm

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:10 pm

The look when you’re watching the debate on your iPad and it slips out of your hands…

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:10 pm

Sanders repays Trump’s compliment saying, “Donald Trump’s kids are going to pay lot more in taxes under his administration.”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:12 pm


Buh-bye, Gov. Chafee.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:15 pm

Since debate started:
Sanders has added about 12K Twitter followers.
Clinton has added about 4K.
O’Malley has added about 1,422.
Meanwhile, Trump? 48.5K.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:16 pm

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:17 pm

Sanders: “Expand Social Security by lifting the cap on taxable income.”

GOP: “Do we laugh or cry about that?”

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:19 pm

O’Malley talking about undocumented immigrants made reference to “Donald Trump that carnival barker in the Republican Party.” Let’s see if Trump responds in his live tweeting.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:24 pm

Fox News just hopped on the Webb bandwagon.
Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:24 pm

Bernie Sanders promises to shut down entirely the NSA surveillance program. “If we are a free country we have a right to be free.”

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:24 pm

Snowden would not want to face a jury made up of this crowd on stage.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:25 pm

Anyone notice that guest tweeter Donald Trump isn’t using the DemDebate hashtag? No outside links allowed!

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:30 pm

Sanders just had to add that little zing about “the power of corporate media.”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:32 pm

Couldn’t resist posting this.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:33 pm

CNN sure knows how to tease the next segment — pot!!

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:38 pm

Cooper says the presidency not a crown and wonders why Clinton should she be elected. “I can’t think of anything more of an outsider than electing a woman.” Wrong — something more outsider would be electing a Democratic socialist.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:38 pm

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:40 pm

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:44 pm

The Planned Parenthood card has been played!

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:46 pm

How CNN sees the Nevada electorate.

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:49 pm

OK, how many of these folks from the 2007 Democratic Debate can you ID?

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:53 pm

Let’s play Beat the Clock here at the end, gang. “15 seconds, if you can.”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:55 pm

Smart move going to Chafee first with the wrap-up 90 seconds. He’s halfway through, and I’ve already forgot what he said.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20157:57 pm

Final beauty pageant question of the night from Cooper:  “FDR said ‘I ask you to judge me by the enemies I made.’ Who are your enemies?”
Chafee: The coal lobby
O’Malley. The National Rifle Association
Clinton: In adidition to the NRA, health Insurance companies, the Iranians, probably the Republicans
Sanders: Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry
Webb: “The enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me.”

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20157:58 pm

Question: “Which enemy are you most proud of?”

Webb: A guy I killed in Vietnam.

Remember that recurring caption in The Far Side: “People unclear on the concept”?

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20158:03 pm

Good for Clinton for pointing out that this debate was about issues “in stark contrast to the Republicans currently running for president.” Pretty sure there was a truncated “pause for applause” there, though.

Lisa de Moraes October 13, 20158:05 pm

CNN gave Hillary Clinton the last word, preceded by Bernie Sanders, during the closing statement portion of the debate. Chafee and Webb signed off with no more clarity as to who they are than when they started. O’Malley waved the millennial flag. Sanders pitched to give him $30. 

Erik Pedersen October 13, 20158:14 pm

That’s a wrap, folks. Who won? Who’s done? Will anyone get a Carly Fiorina bump? Go to the comments and give us your postmortems. We’ll see you back here on October 28 for the third GOP debate.