Capri Cafaro: At first Democratic debate these 6 candidates beat Warren on authenticity, specifics and guts

Two nights, twenty candidates, and just one party: The Democrats.

Debate night number one on Wednesday in Miami was billed by many as an evening featuring Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and the B Squad.

To me, Wednesday night’s debate was anything but that.


Warren, who is ahead in the polls and gaining steam, did not steal the show in Miami in my humble opinion.

The real stars of the evening were those who showed authenticity, specifics and guts. Let’s take a closer look:


Many of those stars of the evening on Wednesday were lesser-known presidential candidates before the debate, but they made the most of their opportunity to introduce themselves to a broader audience.

I was struck by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s authenticity which was captured in the way she spoke about her personal experience as an Iraq war veteran.

She reflected on her time serving alongside LGBT service members, united with them in defending our nation.

She brought her own military experience to bear when she explained why she feels it is necessary for the U.S.  to leave Afghanistan.


I paid close attention to any candidate on the stage in Miami who offered specifics on how to address a particular problem facing our country.

I was happy to see Democrats focus mainly on policy Wednesday night and not on pummeling President Trump, or frankly taking shots at one another. 

I especially valued those candidates who pointed to actual programs they have implemented or laws they have passed. It is one thing to throw around buzzwords or catchphrases.  It’s another to actually govern.

Those candidates with executive experience showed the most gravitas when it came to providing examples of tangible results.

While discussing health care, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee mentioned that he has actually signed a public health care coverage option into law in his state.

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro pointed to his record of developing community-policing standards as mayor of San Antonio when asked about how he would address some of the issues surrounding gun violence and the African-American community.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio highlighted his administration’s ability to deliver free universal pre-K education to parents as a building block of opportunity on his watch.


It doesn’t take guts to memorize responses that have been focus group tested.  It does take guts to stand on a stage with your peers, in front of members of your party, and call them out.

My Congressman, Ohio's Tim Ryan, did that in a big way by making his fellow Democrats look in the mirror and face the fact that we have a problem connecting with America’s heartland because we, Democrats, are perceived as a party by and for coastal elites.

Minnesota Senator Amy Kloubachar showed moxie when she acknowledged that she worked on a number of bills that President Trump has actually signed and then point blank declared that she was not going to throw around a bunch of empty promises.

Ryan and Kloubachar showed they both have the guts to lead and take a stand.

I was happy to see Democrats focus mainly on policy Wednesday night and not on pummeling President Trump, or frankly taking shots at one another.

Overall, it was a substantive exchange of ideas among these ten candidates.


Political candidates, for any office, who just pander or repeat talking points do not impress me. I’m pretty sure most Americans are in the same boat.

I am just glad there were some 2020 hopefuls on the debate stage in Miami who showed their fellow Americans that Democrats do have solutions and are not all cut from the same coastal elitist cloth.