7 big takeaways from the first Democratic debate

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Beto O’Rourke got roughed up, while Julián Castro prospered at his fellow Texan’s expense. Elizabeth Warren left unscathed.

And for once, it wasn’t all about President Donald Trump or the Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden.

Wednesday night’s debate had all the hallmarks of an undercard: among the top-five polling candidates, only Warren was on stage. But it nonetheless benefited from first-night anticipation and from a field of underdogs eager to mix it up in a bid to break out.

Here are seven takeaways from the first debate of the 2020 Democratic primary:

Castro and Bill de Blasio must have smelled blood around O’Rourke. Both low-polling men made a point of going after him — and not Warren — in an effort to gain a foothold in the debate.

But it was Castro whose hits landed. He chided O’Rourke for his unwillingness to support a proposal to decriminalize border crossings. O’Rourke said he was interested in a more “comprehensive” immigration reform. But he couldn’t shake Castro, who called O’Rourke “Beto,” and said at one point that he would know better if he did “your homework.” As low-polling rivals stole the microphone from him, at times O’Rourke looked soft.

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