Voting blue no matter who: Progressives at Dem Debate watch party in SF

A debate audience in San Francisco watched ten Democratic hopefuls spar Thursday evening. 

"Houston we have a problem," quipped Sen. Amy Klobuchar, as the debate began at Texas Southern University.

The crowd at Manny's in the Mission District groaned at times, booed occasionally, and laughed a lot. 

Mostly young, and overwhelmingly progressive, they showed little patience for former Vice-President Joe Biden.

"I think being a friend of Obama is not a policy that really works for me,"  said Taylor Hadnot, who is leaning toward entrepreneur Andrew Yang. 

As the debate wore on, Biden seemed to tire and lose his train of thought, prompting laughter in the audience. 

"I think he's done, and not because of age, but because there are others who are stronger at this time," said Hadnot. 

The crowd was split between two rooms at the civic gathering space, both stifling on a warm night. 

People cheered when former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke vowed to enact a mandatory buyback of assault weapons. 

"Hell yes, we're going to take your A-R 15, your A-K 47," he declared. 

Some in the audience were listening for solutions to mass shootings.   

"I think they should all take a more leftist approach on gun violence and gun regulation," said Gerald Elbasani. 

His dream ticket? Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg. 

"I think they're progressive, but they're not too far-fetched from reality." 

The first portion of the debate was dominated by health care: whether to build on Obamacare or offer Medicare for all.

"I wrote the damn bill if I may say so," exclaimed Sen. Bernie Sanders, as Biden questioned the details. 

"Nobody's yet said how much it's going to cost", complained the former VP. 

It was the first time the three front-runners had tackled such thorny issues on the same debate stage. 

"Families pay every time an insurance company says you can't see that specialist," declared Sen. Elizabeth Warren, advocating for higher taxes on top earners and corporations to subsidize universal health care. 

Sen. Kamala Harris frequently tried to broaden the conversation.

"If we don't get Donald Trump out of office, he's going to get rid of all of it," said Harris. 

Some watching said the distilling the debate pool to ten helped the less prominent candidates shine and appear stronger. 

"I thought Kamala Harris had some good points," said Warren-supporter Stacie Hecht.

"And I want to root for Joe Biden because Obama saw something in him, but he really struggled this evening." 

Despite the wide range of topics including racism, immigration, education, and foreign relations, not every listener came away satisfied. 

"Seemed like talking heads saying the same thing over and over again," observed John Bushnell, a Yang supporter.

"I wish we had more questions structured around technology and where that's leading us." 

In the end, most people seemed to find the debate very watchable, if not groundbreaking. 

"I'll vote blue no matter who," said Warren supporter Carolyn Conwell, with a laugh.