democratic debates

Have Julián Castro’s Hits on Joe Biden Been Effective?

Castro trying to score some points. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Ben Hart: Have Julian Castro’s multiple attacks on Joe Biden tonight — he accused Biden of forgetting what he said two minutes prior and accused him of tying himself too closely to President Obama — been effective at all? And if not, do they at least provide a blueprint for how others might try to take the wind out of his sails?

Jonathan Chait: I think they backfired. That’s my guess.

Ed Kilgore: I think the attack on his memory will backfire. The jibe about Obama? Not so much. Though if the take on the debate is “Castro calls Biden senile,” everything he said will be suspect.

Ben: And has Biden’s “I love Obama” thing looked strained tonight, or is it working fine?

Margaret Hartmann: I think it’s probably working for the people already digging that message.

Jon: I think it’s been Biden’s strongest debate so far but last debate he was stronger in the first half than the second, and this one is longer.

Margaret: I was excited to see someone sort of go after Biden on age (or uh, his gaffes), but Castro didn’t do it very elegantly. As in, turns out he was wrong.

Eric Levitz: I have a very hard time analyzing what works for Biden and what doesn’t.

Matt Stieb: It certainly wasn’t as effective as the Harris cornering in June.

Margaret: In retrospect, just seems like he was bullying him.

Ben: Agree, Eric. Given that we’ve all basically been wrong about what will or won’t wound him, it’s hard to be confident about predictions.

Eric: His first two debate performances struck me as just awful, and they cost him approximately no support. So hard for me to believe forcing Obama into a sentence a couple too many times will do what Joe3030 or whatever didn’t. I agree debate two was better than one. I think this is actually his strongest debate so far.

Margaret: I actually thought Biden was okay in both (at least one?) of those debates. I wasn’t into it personally, but he had some messages that I thought could get through to his people.

Ed: So is the idea that anything short of a disaster is good for Biden?

Ben: Well, it’s hard to think differently at this point.

Ed: Yeah, he was fine in the second debate, Margaret.

Ben: I think he’s been perfectly fine. As they say in sports, he’s doing what he needs to do.

Margaret: I think he’s doing pretty poorly but that may be because I’ve personally had it with him, haha.

Eric: Coming out for releasing every American incarcerated for a nonviolent crime might backfire in the general but …

Ben: We discussed this beforehand: It was sort of inevitable that someone would do the “Biden’s old” thing. But Castro was a bit clumsy.

Jeb Reid: Especially given that it was a bad hit.

Eric: Yeah, he should have waited for a genuine gaffe to do it. Chris Christie didn’t accuse Rubio of repeating himself when he hadn’t.

Have Julián Castro’s Hits on Joe Biden Been Effective?