Ahead of Wednesday night’s primary debate between ten Democratic presidential aspirants—a sprawling slate of candidates that nevertheless accounts for only about 42 percent of the Democrats’ 2020 field—the Daily Beast offered some helpful pointers about what candidates should not do. This montage of the decade’s worst debate-stage gaffes and gimmicks was valuable, and it’s highly unlikely that Rep. Tim Ryan caught it. If he had, he might have avoided giving what was arguably the worst series of answers in any presidential debate in living memory.

“We’re going to talk about Iran right now,” said NBC News anchor Lester Holt, who proceeded to ask the Democrats how they would respond to an escalating series of violent provocations from Tehran, including multiple attacks on commercial shipping and the downing of an American drone. Most of the candidates dodged the question, preferring instead to claim that Iran is only lashing out violently because Donald Trump partially withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear accords. Notably, though, the candidates who professed their support for the Iran deal—Sens. Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Tulsi Gabbard—all declined to say that they would reenter the agreement as it stood when Barack Obama negotiated it. The Democratic field supports the “Iran deal,” but they’re apparently not sold on the JCPOA.


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