WASHINGTON – Liberal author and commentator Van Jones had "high expectations" for the Seventh Democratic debate, but said that what he saw on stage in Des Moines, Iowa, was "daunting" because none of the candidates seemed capable of defeating President Donald Trump.
"Democrats have to do better than we saw tonight. There was nothing I saw tonight that could get Donald Trump out. And I want to see a Democrat in the White House as soon as possible," Jones said in a statement. post-debate analysis on CNN Tuesday.
The former adviser to President Barack Obama said that after seeing the six candidates face each other, he wondered if "any of these people are prepared for what Donald Trump is going to do to us."
"I missed Andrew Yang tonight," Jones said. He added that he also missed Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, as well as former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, on the stage of the debate, which was racially homogeneous without them.
He described the debate as "heavy work" at a time when Democrats need to inspire voters.
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Jones' comments were widely shared by conservatives on social media, including the Republican National Committee, which posted a clip of the comments on Twitter from your @RNCResearch account. And Trump retweeted a post from the conservative Daily Caller news site that included a clip of Jones' serious diagnosis for Democrats.
Jones was also discouraged to see a "greater division" among the Democrats after witnessing the apparent animosity between the Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
A day before the debate, Warren said Sanders told him in 2018 that he didn't believe a woman could win a presidential election. Sanders flatly denied saying that when asked about it during the debate, but Warren kept his statement.
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"As progressive, seeing that those two have that level of vitriol was very discouraging," he said.
However, Jones thought Warren benefited from the exchange. And, despite his bleak vision of the night, he was excited about his performance.
"This was the night of Elizabeth Warren," he said. "Here was a banana peel for Bernie to step on when it came to her comments about women. I think Bernie stepped on it and slipped. She hit that moment out of the park."
When asked about the appointment he attributed to Sanders, Warren took the time to point out the strengths and recent successes of the candidates.
"She never ceases to be the head educator," Jones said. "She argued that women have been winning in the Trump era and have led this movement."
But his enthusiasm for Warren did not mitigate his general disappointment.
"I left worried about the Democratic Party," Jones said. "I felt that tonight was the night they were going to put on the fireworks, you'll see the best of the best, and it felt like a big bowl of cold oatmeal."