The presidential hopefuls at the 2020 Democratic debate sent shockwaves after all but Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., rejected the notion that the candidate with the "most delegates" should become the Democratic nominee.
An intense primary battle has been heating up between several of the candidates, and concerns from the Democrat Party have been growing that the contest would result in a brokered convention this summer, where delegates at the Democratic National Convention would determine who the nominee is if none of the candidates clinch the required number of delegates to become the nominee outright.
Toward the end of the debate on Wednesday night, MSNBC moderator Chuck Todd sought to get each of the six candidates on the record as to how the Democratic nominee should be determined
"I want to ask all of you this simple question. There's a very good chance that none of you are gonna have enough delegates to the Democratic National Convention that clinches this nomination. If that happens, and I want all of your opinions on this, should the person with the most delegates at the end of this primary season be the nominee even if they are short of a majority?" Todd asked.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg first answered by pointing to "whatever the rules" the party had previously determined "should be followed."
"You want the convention to work its will," Todd clarified.
"Yes," Bloomberg answered.
Sanders, however, did not.
"Well, the process includes 500 superdelegates on the second ballot, so I think the will of the people should prevail. Yes," Sanders told Todd. "The person with the most votes should become the nominee."
While his response was welcomed by the audience, the other Democrats were widely panned on social media.
"Well, there you have it folks; not a single candidate but Bernie says the candidate with the most amount of delegates going into the convention should be the nominee...." The Hill's Saagar Enjeti tweeted.
"Five candidates say they won't necessarily support the candidate with the most delegates. What a bitter contest this has become," writer Matt Taibbi reacted.
"A Venn diagram of Dem candidates who say they want to do away with the electoral college and Dem candidates who wouldn't say the candidate with the most votes should be the nominee," Daily Caller investigative editor Peter J. Hasson quipped.
"Wait. Did all but one of the presidential candidates just say they don't think the person with the most delegates should necessarily be the nominee," Washington Post economics reporter Jeffrey S. Stein asked in disbelief.
However, many progressive journalists and Sanders supporters predicted that the other Democratic candidates "know" that Sanders is on his way to earn the most delegates this primary season.
"I can’t believe every candidate on that stage just said that the candidate with the most votes should not necessarily be the nominee. Wow. DNC - RIP?" liberal filmmaker and Sanders surrogate Michael Moore tweeted.
"No joke though: If Bernie Sanders is leading in pledged delegates and votes by the convention and superdelegates swing the nomination to someone else, it will be the end of the Democratic Party as an American political institution," journalist Walter Bragman warned Democrats.
"They're all insisting, except for Bernie, that the candidate with the most delegates shouldn't necessarily win. They're admitting defeat months before it even happens. This is anti democratic, deeply frustrating, and just plain f---ing sad," progressive Young Turks host John Iadarola said.