Depending on who you ask, the big winner in Tuesday night's Democratic showdown was either Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, both or racial equality (for finally being discussed in a 2016 debate). One result was widely accepted though: CNN's Anderson Cooper absolutely crushed it as a moderator.
"Anderson Cooper won the debate," wrote Red State's Erick Erickson.
"He asserted himself as the strongest figure of the presentation, candidates included," wrote Mediaite's Joe Concha. "In the end, Cooper showed why he’s one of the top journalists in the game: He was impeccably prepared, wasn’t hesitant to ask follow-up questions when warranted and didn’t offer up one question -- not one -- that could be considered frivolous or fluffy... A solid A."
Cooper hammered each candidate with questions about their biggest weak spots. He asked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee about their wavering political stances. He grilled Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Virginia Sen. Jim Webb for their high marks with the NRA. He questioned former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's record as mayor of Baltimore, a city plagued by recent unrest. And he asked all of the candidates about their electability, putting the three Democrats who are polling in the single digits in a tough spot.
Cooper repeatedly refused to let candidates dodge questions or give non-answers:
"Senator Sanders, you have to give a response," he said.
"Senator Sanders, you didn't answer the question," he said later.
"You agreed to these rules and you're wasting time," he told Webb. "So if you would finish your answer, we'll move on."
Cooper's performance was well-received on Twitter:
As Slate's Justin Peters wrote, "I wish he could moderate all the debates."
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