Last Night’s Grades — A Solid B for Biden; A New Scenario for China Trade Talks
Author: Greg Valliere
September 13, 2019
JOE BIDEN’S GOOD NIGHT: Biden’s status as the shaky front-runner is still intact after last night’s debate. He had a few minor gaffes, especially late in the three-hour marathon, but we give him a solid B. Here are our other grades:
Beto O’Rourke, still standing, was the recipient of praise from the other candidates (probably because they no longer view him as a threat). But O’Rourke was the surprise of the night; we give him an A-minus.
Elizabeth Warren: No errors, but not very engaged. Perhaps Warren thinks she’s on a trajectory to win the nomination, and simply wants to play defense. It’s way too early for that, in our opinion. Let’s give her a B.
Pete Buttigieg: Always solid and articulate, but time’s running out for Mayor Pete. He didn’t move the needle much last night. A B for him, not enough.
Any Klobuchar: Still in the mix for the vice presidential nod. A moderate from the Midwest who’s an adequate debater, we give her a B for last night’s steady performance.
Cory Booker: He had a few solid moments and is still in the running; it’s difficult, however, to see where he breaks through. Let’s give him a B-minus.
Bernie Sanders: He turned 78 last week, and sounded even older thanks to a cold. Not a bad performance last night, but he said nothing new. We’ll give him a C.
Kamala Harris: Her take-down of Biden in the first debate was her high-water mark. She had some well-prepared sound bites last night but no longer seems to be much of a force. Let’s give her a C.
Julian Castro: His nasty cheap shot at Biden’s memory was based on an inaccurate summary of what Biden had just said. Castro is toast, and probably lost his chance for the vice presidential nod. We give him a D.
Andrew Yang: The Yang balloon crashed and burned last night. His tacky pandering — call now and maybe you’ll get $1,000 per month — was cringe inducing. Not ready for prime time, we give Yang a D-minus.
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PLAN B ON CHINA TRADE: Both sides agree that about 90% of a trade deal is completed; negotiators have made that assertion for the past few months. So why not sign a deal on that 90% and leave the remainder for additional talks that could last through the winter? That idea seems to be gaining traction as both sides look more conciliatory.
WE STILL THINK A COMPREHENSIVE DEAL is many months away, but real signs of progress are possible when talks resume in October. Beijing is buying soybeans again and has offered concessions in free trade zones in China, while Donald Trump is delaying some tariffs and considering other concessions.
BOTTOM LINE: This story changes every few days, so it’s way too early to get celebratory, but we reiterate our position: a modest deal by winter still looks likely.
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