Live Blog: CBS Democratic Presidential Debate

By Mark Joyella 

Whatever tonight’s debate in Iowa would have been, that changed dramatically with the terror attacks Friday night in Paris.

The “attacks in Paris require important questions for the candidates,” said CBS News executive editor Steve Capus, announcing the debate would go on as scheduled–though with an entirely new focus.

Capus told The New York Times he was in a debate rehearsal when word broke of the carnage in Paris. “This is exactly what the president is going to have to face,” he told The Times.


Work immediately began to develop appropriate questions. “There is no question that the emphasis changes dramatically. It is the right time to ask all the related questions that come to mind,” he added. “We think we have a game plan to address a lot of the substantive and important topics.”

That’s not necessarily good news for candidates whose previous job didn’t happen to be U.S. Secretary of State, as CNN reported earlier this evening:

Sanders, Charles Pierce writes at Esquire, runs a risk trying to turn the Paris attacks against Clinton:

He’d be excoriated from hell to breakfast for “politicizing” mass murder—not by me, but you know—and it would be far too easy for HRC to turn that criticism around on him. It would be a very big chance for him to take.

Politico’s Annie Karni reports the Sanders campaign claims to have won some sort of concessions from CBS on the extent of the foreign policy questions tonight:

We’ll see what happens as the debate begins.

Tonight’s moderators are Face the Nation host John Dickerson, CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, the CBS News congressional correspondent; Kevin Cooney, an anchor for KCCI-TV in Des Moines; and Kathie Obradovich, a political columnist for The Des Moines Register.

9:00 p.m. ET: The Debate Begins CBS opens with a moment of silence for the victims in Paris, then introduces the candidates and goes to a commercial break.

9:08 p.m. ET: Has President Obama Underestimated the Threat of ISIS? Hillary Clinton is asked if she “missed” the real threat of ISIS. “I don’t think the United States has the bulk of the responsibility,” for the growth of ISIS, she responds.

9:14 p.m. ET: Clinton’s Vote on Iraq Sanders references “the disastrous invasion of Iraq, something that I strongly opposed, has unraveled the region,” and Dickerson notes Clinton voted in favor of the invasion.

Clinton responds, “I have said the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.”

CBS is partnered with Twitter for tonight’s debate, and observers have noted how that partnership is working:

9:32 p.m. ET: John Dickerson Gets Good Reviews:

9:40 p.m. ET: How High Can the Income Tax Go? On more comfortable
ground, Bernie Sanders is asked how high he would raise taxes, and he says not up to 90 percent, which he says was Eisenhower’s highest rate. “I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower”

10:02 p.m. ET: “Not Good Enough.” Clinton is asked about her financial support from Wall Street, and whether she can be independent as a result. Clinton said she has a “very aggressive plan to reign in Wall Street.”

John Dickerson asks Sen. Sanders what he thought of Clinton’s answer. “Not good enough.”

10:15 p.m. ET: A Landmark Moment? For the first time in memory, a social media question didn’t represent a change in gears, but a real-time response to the debate. Tonight, from Twitter, a question calling Hillary Clinton on her answer to a question about Wall Street.

10:34 p.m. ET: “This Debate Stinks” Republican frontrunner Donald Trump re-tweeted a critic of the Democratic debate:

A few moments later, Trump weighed in himself, taking a shot at O’Malley, who again called Trump a “carnival barker.”

10:56 p.m. ET: It’s Over. Sorta. The candidates have given their closing statements, and CBS has taken a final commercial break, but John Dickerson throws to Major Garrett to ask how the candidates’ answers did on social media.

10:59 p.m. ET: Now It’s Really Over. Good Night, and let us know what you thought.