In a 10-person Democratic primary debate arena, it’s bound to get messy, with everybody wanting to have their voices heard — and some (*cough cough* male) candidates were especially shouty. As expected, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders made the debate the “Biden and Bernie Show.” But they weren’t the only ones doing the interrupting on Thursday night.
“No, I’d like to say something,” Sen. Michael Bennet retorted when Savannah Guthrie asked him to await his turn. “Senator Bennet, we’re going to get to everybody, I promise.” Shortly afterward, Guthrie had to stop the former Veep from interrupting as well.
However, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the three female candidates on the debate stage, wasn’t having it when Bennet tried to hijack her chance to speak on her support for universal healthcare. “No, it’s my turn!” she cut back in, and Bennet backed off.
Gillibrand gave the male candidates a run for their money and decided to cut in as well — leading some on Twitter to call her out, while others celebrated her gumption. During the conversation on Medicare For All, the New York senator cut in to take credit for the portion of the bill she wrote allowing people to keep their private insurance during a transition period.
While the public took note of Gillibrand’s interruptions, she ranks low in talking time with only 7.5 minutes (the fifth most silent candidate of the night).
Mayor Bill de Blasio was notably guilty of barging in on other candidates’ response times on the first night of the debates. According to The Atlantic, the women on-stage were much more likely to speak only when directly addressed by the moderators, which speaks to a very clear gender dynamic. On night one, only Sen. Cory Booker and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke were able to break 10 minutes, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren following with 9.3 minutes.
Leading night two by a long shot, Biden spoke for over 13 minutes. Sen. Harris follows with 11.9 minutes, becoming the woman with the most speaking time across both nights of the debate.
For lower-polling candidates, the debates are their only real chance to appeal to the American public and build their base of supporters. When frontrunners like Sanders and Biden hog the mic, they are strategically edging their smaller opponents out of the race.