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Image consultants: Here's the debate's biggest loser

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Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro challenged former Rep. Beto O'Rourke on how to process immigrants seeking asylum or entry at the US border.

Posted: Jun 27, 2019 7:50 AM
Updated: Jun 27, 2019 7:50 AM

Ask the average American what was "sticky" from the first Democratic presidential debate, and there's a good chance it had nothing to do with domestic or foreign policy. Cory Booker's meme-worthy look of astonishment as Beto O'Rourke began speaking Spanish went viral, and later MSNBC got its microphone wires crossed, which may have been the only truly unscripted moment of the evening.

As for the actual debate, 10 Democratic candidates for president lined the stage Wednesday night, but four stood out above the rest. Elizabeth Warren won. O'Rourke lost. Bill de Blasio and Julian Castro likely surprised people in a good way. Booker had a moment when he personalized his answer on gun control, but mainly, he spoke the most but said the least. The rest of the candidates often seemed like background noise.

We analyzed both the verbal and nonverbal communication skills of each candidate; it was clear that everyone had a moment to shine and a moment that left them wishing for a do-over.

Warren appeared to use her depth of knowledge to answer the questions instead of shamelessly bridging to a recitation of her past accomplishments.

Warren's high point: the authenticity and conviction with which she claimed how hard she would fight for the average American.

Her low point: smiling while listening to a question about the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

De Blasio's height wasn't the only reason for his commanding presence on stage. The New York mayor spoke with a confidence and calm that made him seem up to the job.

De Blasio's high point: the clarity with which he called for adherence to the War Powers Act, saying that clearly we hadn't learned the lessons from Vietnam.

His low point: answering the first two questions looking straight into the camera. It seemed too sales-y.

Castro demonstrated an appealing range of emotion. Unlike many of his fellow candidates who seemed riled and angry, Castro demonstrated a cool confidence and a fiery passion over the issues.

Castro's high point: His use of Spanish was the only good one and not just because it was culturally appropriate. Castro spoke in the language of his family's heritage for a specific purpose that he explained: to show how far we've come as a country that he could do so. Booker's and O'Rourke's use of Spanish was borderline cringeworthy. Castro also teed up a good punchline seconds later when he said it was time to say "adios" to Donald Trump.

His low point: While listening to a question, Castro had a somewhat imperious look about him, with his head angled slightly up; he appeared to be judgmentally looking down his nose at the moderator.

O'Rourke's performance had more ups and downs than his Adam's apple as he appeared to listen nervously to the questions. When he abruptly and gratuitously broke into Spanish during his very first answer (can you say overeager?), Booker must not have been the only one who was astonished. Millions of viewers must have checked to see whether they had accidentally hit the SAP button on their remotes. Speaking Spanish to win over voters is nothing new. Jackie Kennedy did it several times in 1960, but as Lloyd Bentsen might have said, "Congressman. ... You're no Jackie Kennedy."

O'Rourke's high point: While answering a question about America's obligation to step in and combat episodes of genocide, the former congressman finally looked like he woke from his nationally televised slumber.

His low point: When Castro was telling O'Rourke he was wrong for not endorsing a repeal of Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, O'Rourke nodded his head in a way that made it look like he was agreeing with the criticism. It was clear that O'Rourke came armed with stories about average people, but the stories frequently fell flat and felt unconnected to the rest of what he was saying.

But perhaps "The Biggest Loser" of the evening was the former host of "The Apprentice," who was barely mentioned by name. In fact, if Washington Gov. Jay Inslee hadn't named Trump as the biggest threat to America's national security, you could almost, for a few fleeting moments, have forgotten who sits in the Oval Office. Imagine that.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 9693
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion840461335
Lake45349684
Allen32803548
Hamilton29394315
St. Joseph27380381
Elkhart24404345
Vanderburgh19411249
Tippecanoe17970138
Johnson15069295
Porter14783169
Hendricks14401248
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Vigo10726181
Clark10677144
Monroe9383110
Delaware9116134
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Warrick672999
Hancock6697104
Bartholomew6484100
Floyd6428110
Wayne6136162
Grant5991115
Dubois555579
Boone551168
Morgan541295
Henry507864
Marshall503984
Cass483263
Dearborn479845
Noble473059
Jackson425047
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Clinton373043
Gibson370359
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Montgomery345754
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 10680
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101171707
Cuyahoga855711125
Hamilton64017448
Montgomery43107418
Summit34836761
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Butler30973232
Stark25786435
Warren19671140
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Trumbull12809316
Fairfield1279381
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Wood10348158
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Portage9296109
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Muskingum703141
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Ross548998
Scioto539164
Geauga508455
Darke470292
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Huron428741
Auglaize422264
Shelby421222
Jefferson419269
Belmont416840
Washington388740
Athens38009
Putnam374975
Madison355129
Knox352622
Ashland344938
Fulton338443
Defiance330086
Crawford322374
Preble320637
Brown312921
Logan307332
Ottawa293943
Clinton290143
Williams278667
Highland275118
Jackson263845
Guernsey254125
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Morrow23234
Perry231318
Holmes225474
Henry218749
Hardin213033
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Gallia196726
Wyandot196051
Pike176217
Adams176115
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Carroll155616
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Noble120540
Meigs108624
Monroe100732
Harrison89121
Morgan83130
Vinton70213
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