After two nights of debates, in which 20 of the 24 Democrats running for president took the stage, American voters are now left with a lot to mull over. On Wednesday night after the first round, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stopped by The Late Show to give her take on the debates. Speaking to host Stephen Colbert, Ocasio-Cortez delivered an on-point and diplomatic analysis of the candidates' performances.
First off, the politician, who has Puerto Rican heritage, addressed the Spanish spoken during the Wednesday debate by both Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke. When asked questions in Spanish, the candidates responded in turn, though their use of the language was sometimes halted or in a very strong American accent that made the men sound, to many people, like AI reading out answers on the Duolingo app.
"I thought it was humorous sometimes," Ocasio-Cortez said, adding that sometimes, the men's use of Spanish felt like a way to avoid completely answering a moderator's question. But she also acknowledged that the attempt to speak the language wasn't a bad thing. “I thought it was a good gesture to the fact that we are a diverse country," said the representative.
Later in the interview, Ocasio-Cortez told Colbert that with such a full debate stage, it didn't always feel like every candidate actually had the knowledge needed to run for president. "Sometimes with the debate stage this big, it can kind of seem like a high school classroom, and so there are some folks that didn't seem like they read the book and then they got called on," she explained.
Yet when Colbert tried to bait her into discussing some of the evening's weaker participants, like Tim Ryan and John Delaney, she maneuvered her response to focus on the candidates she thought did a good job.
"I'll be honest. I really do think that this was a breakaway night," Ocasio-Cortez said. "I think that Elizabeth Warren really distinguished herself. I think Julián Castro really distinguished himself. I think Cory Booker did a great job in talking about criminal justice."
Her assessment of the candidates doesn't differ too much from the general takeaways from the debate. Warren, Booker, and Castro were the most discussed contenders on Wednesday, according to Twitter, and many pundits agreed that Castro's debate performance, in particular, stole the evening.
Although several candidates shone, there was one issue Ocasio-Cortez told Colbert that she felt wasn't covered well enough by the moderators during the debate. “I don't think we are discussing climate change the way we need to be discussing climate change," she said, emphasizing each word. "It is such a huge, broad, systemic issue, and you can’t just say, ‘Is Miami gonna exist in 50 years?’”
Indeed, between two nights of debate, which totaled in about four hours of airtime, climate change was only discussed for 15 minutes. Speaking to Colbert, Ocasio-Cortez referenced the Sunrise Movement, the group of youth activists who have been protesting outside of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, demanding that the DNC host a debate focused entirely on climate change.
"I think that's a good idea," the representative said of the movement. "Because when it comes to climate change, climate change is an infrastructure issue, it's a jobs issue, it's an energy issue, it's a foreign policy issue, and we can't just talk about the Copacabana."
Despite her passionate feelings about the debates, Ocasio-Cortez wouldn't give in to Colbert's tries to get her to announce which candidate she would support for president. "I have endorsed no one yet," she said.