COLUMBIA, S. C. – Late Friday night, a few days and two states away from the first democratic debate, 21 of the 23 candidates for their party's presidential nomination turned out to be nice. They posed, sweating through matching T-shirts, for pictures with Rep. James E. Clyburn (S.C.), who entertained them with his famous fish roast. Some threw their arms around each other. Almost everyone shared the laugh.
On Saturday no one gave up collegiality to a national television audience at the South Carolina Democratic Party Congress. They stuck to their speeches and even avoided polite disputes. Against the backdrop of a peaceful coexistence, some candidates tried to stand out from the crowd.
In seven-minute speeches, the candidates took positions and presented convincing arguments for their particular leadership.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (California) made the most conspicuous effort to attract attention, giving up her usual biographical stumbling talk to explain more clearly and forcefully why she is the right candidate.
In the first six months of her campaign Harris had avoided referring to her competitors unless asked. She almost completely avoided comparing herself to other Democrats, was relentlessly polite to the leader, former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the election, and was consistently absent in the criticism of other members of her party.
At their first event in Colombia on Friday afternoon, Harris asked to throw stern weapons by undermining the arguments of their fellow candidates against Medicare-for-all and declaring theirs as the most viable of the arms control policy. On Saturday she led a drum snake down the escalator to a horde of followers, the most conspicuous entrance of all candidates. She used part of her stage time to argue that the Democratic candidate must not only be "a leader of our country, but also a leader of our party."
Harris also used her time to present her political plan as "a 3 am agenda" – a set of plans to tackle issues that keep people busy at night, as opposed to massive structural changes.
This contrasted Harris with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) And Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).), Both known for their comprehensive, system-changing visions, but also skeptical about their ability to enforce this policy in the face of the inertia of the Congress.
Former Congressman John Delaney of Maryland, one of the few members of the field who has shown a consistent willingness to criticize the policies of his competitors, also challenged the idea that these high-flying policies are a useful approach.
"I do not think that the American people need more standstill, more partiality. and more ideol ogy, "said Delaney. ". , , We have to be the party that presents reasonable solutions, not impossible promises.
Sanders used his first few minutes on stage to call Third Way, a centrist-democratic group he referred to as the "corporate wing" of the party whose conference triggered a Politico last week Story about Warren's potential as a "compromise candidate" between the middle of the party and the left.
"At this conference I was called an existential threat to the Democratic Party. Why am I an existential threat? "Sanders asked before realizing that the systemic changes he promised would be a threat to facilities.
Sanders made these comments near a man in a "No Old White Men 2020" shirt, appropriately representing another divide that took place on Saturday as well as on the debating stage.
In South Bend, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, as usual, called for a "new generation" of leaders, an implicit blow to Sanders and Biden. though not new. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro did the same thing he usually does. Neither tried to explicitly criticize Biden, Sanders or any of their elders.
Biden seemed to be setting up his own counterargument against those who wondered if his age could be an obstacle: Biden passed all his roasted fish competitors on Friday night. He stayed until almost midnight, chatting with the supporters and posing for selfies, as if challenging the idea that a 76-year-old could not keep up with his political postures. When he introduced one of these positions – his health plan for a public option with a buy-in for those who can afford it – Biden highlighted another way in which he may soon be in opposition to some of his peers] " We need to build on the Affordable Care Act, "said Biden, vice president, as President Barack Obama's administration enforced this signature initiative. "Do not throw away."
And when he avoided challenging his competitors, Biden escaped the weekend without criticizing him. After a week in which Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) criticized Harris and other Biden for his comments on his work with racial sect Sen. James O. Eastland, nobody brought Biden to the stage that Friday night. Also in their speeches on Saturday nobody pointed that out.