South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are both receiving a fair amount of praise for their proactive approaches during Tuesday evening's Democratic presidential primary debate in Westerville, Ohio. That aggressiveness, several analysts concur, seems to have resulted from the sense that former Vice President Joe Biden's standing as the leading moderate candidate was vulnerable. Subsequently, both Buttigieg and Klobuchar felt like they had a chance to seize that territory — in fact, Buttigieg came across as so moderate, even some conservatives were touting his performance on stage.
The candidates were particularly focused on going after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who they likely consider the frontrunner, and her support for Medicare-for-all. Klobuchar called it a "pipe dream," while Buttigieg criticized her vague response to a question about how she planned on funding the proposal. He kept that up the following morning, as well.
Buttigieg and Klobuchar clearly think there's an opening to be the moderate alternative to Warren/Sanders.
Their decision to forego running to the left of Biden during the debate indicates their campaigns believe there is still a vibrant centrist voting bloc in the party, and that Biden's failures are more related to his performance than ideology. But, at the same time, there appears to be a sense of urgency from Klobuchar and Buttigieg, who may be realizing they can't just wait around for Biden's campaign to fizzle out. Tim O'Donnell
Buttigieg and especially Klobuchar likely need a total Biden collapse, preferably before voting starts, to have a plausible path. Don't think a sad, slow decline will do it.