Late Night Tackles 2020 Democrats
March 12, 2020

"Last night was a pivotal moment for Democrats: Who would they choose to return America to stability, steadiness, and calm?" Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "The overwhelming answer: The old man who threatened to slap an autoworker." Joe Biden "had another huge night, winning Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, and Michigan," he said. "That's a huge blow for Bernie." Sanders even lost voters he won in 2016, Colbert noted. "Apparently in 2016, a lot of white voters were less committed to Bernie than they were committed to not voting for a woman. And you can read all about that in Elizabeth Warren's new book, You Don't Say!"

"There have already been calls for Bernie Sanders to step aside and let the slightly younger generation take over," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. But "if you think a little turbulence is going to shake Bernie Sanders out of the race, you need to think again." Instead of seeking to "burn the party to the ground," though, "it seems like Bernie wants to push Biden toward a more progressive platform," Noah said, but "I think Joe Biden is ready for the fight — and I say that because yesterday, a video came out of Biden going toe-to-tow with a factory worker in Michigan, and he was fired up." Lots of Democrats were aghast, he added, but "I'm hoping that this straight-talking, 'You're full of s--t' Biden becomes his new thing."

"Many are giving credit for Biden's victory to his new campaign strategy of grabbing voters by the arm and shouting: 'Look here, Jack, you're a jerk who can go to hell!'" Jimmy Kimmel joked on Kimmel Live. "You remember when that guy Nik Wallenda walked on a tightrope across that active volcano? That's what it's going to feel like watching Joe Biden open his mouth every day between now and November."

Sanders told The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon he "could feel better" about Tuesday's results, but "people today think that Joe is more electable than I am." "Do you think Biden can beat Trump?" Fallon asked. "I do," Sanders said. "I think even, you know, Republicans and moderates are gonna say, 'You know what, we can't have four more years of this guy.' So do I think Joe can beat him? I do — I mean, between you and me, don't tell anybody. We're the stronger campaign to do that." Peter Weber

March 6, 2020

With Sen. Elizabeth Warren's departure from the Democratic presidential race, "we're getting a clearer picture of America's future — and it looks a lot like America's past," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "The one-time frontrunner, Warren made the classic campaign mistake of being able to finish a coherent sentence — and not having a penis." Her departure is "further proof that American cannot have nice things," he said. "She had a plan for everything — a health care plan, an immigration plan, a student loan plan, and her most popular plan of all: kneecapping Michael Bloomberg with a croquet mallet."

Still, "despite her best effort, that Democratic road still has just two lanes — and two drivers who probably should have their keys taken away," Colbert said. He played Warren's thoughts on sexism in the race, acted out Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders courting her endorsement, and played a clip of Warren's dog stealing a snack: "Yes, it's your burrito, but Bailey has a plan for that."

"Who is Elizabeth Warren gonna endorse, Biden or Bernie?" Trevor Noah asked at The Daily Show. "Is she gonna swipe right or far left?" But "Warren has a good point" about sexism, he said. "A woman addressing sexism, or ignoring it, while running for president is either going to be seen as a whiner or living on another planet. Which is unfair, especially since the president is already a whiner who lives on another planet. And whether you think sexism played a role or not, you have to admit it's pretty strange that a race that started with a broad tapestry of candidates is now basically down to two old white men."

Yes, in spite of Warren's "experience, her track record, and her skills in the debates, American voters ultimately decided she just didn't have what they were looking for in a president — which is a penis," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. "It's hard to argue sexism didn't play some part, and not just direct sexism. ... It's second-hand sexism." With the race down to Bernie and Biden, he said, "basically, it's like when you're trying to choose which type of Breyer's vanilla to get at the supermarket, and they've got the the natural, the homemade, and the extra creamy. Which flavor will beat that chunky monkey in the Oval Office? I guess we'll find out." Watch below. Peter Weber

March 4, 2020

"This is the big night when Democrats in 14 states across America will decide whether the Democratic nominee should be an old man or an even older man," Trevor Noah said on a live Super Tuesday Daily Show. "Whichever nominee comes out on top tonight gets a big boost in the race for the Democratic nomination — and, you also get all the losing candidates' lunch money."

By the time The Daily Show went on the air, "Vermont was easily won by the original founder of the state, Bernie Sanders," who also picked up Colorado, Noah said. "But it's looking like tonight is all about Joe Biden, because black voters just put him over the top all across the South." How did we get here? "Remember, a few weeks ago, people were saying that Bernie was going to clean up," he said. "But then after Biden dominated South Carolina, he was neck-and-neck with Bernie. And what's propelled him even further was getting help from a few new friends."

So now it's looking like Bernie versus Biden, and "you don't have to be a genius to know that the Democratic Party right now is at a crossroads," Noah said. "On one side you've got Bernie's revolution, on the other side, Biden's return to normalcy. Now some people fear that this could become a rift that destroys the Democrats. And Donald Trump wants to do his part to make sure that happens."

Biden and Sanders offer differnt paths for the Democrats, but "because we're talking about Trump, the menace, the threat of him getting eight years versus four is so profound, that I think we'll come together," former Obama White House senior adviser David Plouffe told Noah. "But he's going to be really tough to beat. There's nothing he won't do, there's no low he won't sink to, to win re-election." Plouffe said Biden is the frontrunner after Super Tuesday, though the race is certainly not over, and it will be up to the people, not the party, to push the eventual Democratic nominee to victory.

Late Night's Seth Meyers marked Super Tuesday by conducting his own debate with the remaining Democrats, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

February 27, 2020

Every political ad in South Carolina ahead of Saturday's Democratic presidential primary seems to feature former President Barack Obama, "so it seems a lot of white folks think standing next to a cool black person gives them legitimacy," Jordan Klepper said on Thursday's Daily Show. "But is it effective? Let's ask my good friend, Roy Wood Jr." Klepper and Wood traveled to Charleston to get the pulse of black voters, a group that gets its first real say in South Carolina's primary. And they left with one big question: "Who is Tom Steyer?!?"

The black voters they talked with were "not easily duped by the slick political advertising strategy of 'My One Black Friend,'" Klepper said. "But who was breaking through?" The surprise answer was Steyer, who has spent the most money on ads in South Carolina, even though his Obama connection is once-removed. To understand the appeal, Klepper and Wood asked Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) about Steyer, and then Steyer himself. Wood left him hanging. Watch below. Peter Weber

February 27, 2020

At Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) said that, despite popular misconceptions, she actually eats all the time. "I had heard the rumors that Sen. Warren consumes food, so I recently flew down to my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, to meet up with the Democratic candidate and teach her a little about South Carolina cuisine," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. And he wasn't joking. Oysters, boiled peanuts, bourbon, hush puppies, ribs, and ... Michelob Ultra, "the club soda of beers."

This was more of a Food Network show than a policy discussion, though Colbert slipped in some politics between bites. "You've said that you're a fan of fast food," he said. "Are there any ways in which you are not like Donald Trump?" She laughed: "Um, yes, I read books, I care about people ..." Colbert also grilled Warren on billionaire trivia, kind of. Which billionaire looks like he cuts his own bangs with toenail clippers? Warren's answer was also correct. "Like the underbelly of a hairless cat?" "Oh gosh, that's so many," she said, momentarily stumped.

Colbert had Warren illustrate her wealth tax on the ribs, and she ended up playfully jabbing him with the fork — "That's universal child care, you jerk!" And when Colbert dropped an F-bomb while telling a joke, Warren showed that she had been paying attention. Watch below. Peter Weber

February 26, 2020

The seven top Democratic presidential candidates faced off in South Carolina on Tuesday night, and The Late Show got everyone up to speed with a topical parody of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."

Yes, "the Democrats met in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, and these folks said a lot of words — and I did not hear many of them, because the candidates were speaking all over each other the entire time," Stephen Colbert said in his live post-debate monologue. Former Vice President Joe Biden "wasn't exactly in top form coming in to the debate," having just forgotten which office he's running for, but the night's first big fight was the "haymakers between Bernie and Bloomie," he said. "Wow, that is really punching below the belt, but then again, Bloomberg can't reach much higher."

"It wasn't just Bloomberg attacking Sanders — all the candidates had their torches out to set fire to the wicker Bernie," Colbert said, showing some samples. And "Bernie wasn't always a hit with the crowd tonight, especially when he defended his limited praise of the Cuban Revolution," Colbert said. Still, he added, he personally would be happy Sanders getting the nomination, "because Bernie and Trump are the only two impressions I can do."

The debate "was wild tonight — I haven't seen white people go at each other that hard since khakis were on sale at Banana Republic," Trevor Noah joked at The Daily Show. Bloomberg had another tough night, and "if Bernie Sanders was the ass-whooping appetizer, Elizabeth Warren brought the main course," he said. "She destroyed him in the first debate, she came after him again tonight," and "if Bloomberg worried that he was coming across as a corrupt billionaire, it really didn't help him when he made a really bad slip of the tongue," he added. "You probably shouldn't brag about 'buying' people in South Carolina."

Amy Klobuchar had "one of the strangest moments of the night, easily," bringing up her "Uncle Dick in the deer stand," Noah said, offering a probably NSFW riposte. But finally "it was time to get to the main event: Going after Bernie Sanders." Sanders didn't help himself with his Cuba answer, he said, offering an analogy about infidelity. Still, "as long as all the moderates decide to stay in the race, Bernie is going to have a pretty clear path to win the nomination." Watch below. Peter Weber

February 14, 2020

"The Democratic primaries are off and running," and after the Nevada caucuses, "the next actual primary is my home state of South Carolina," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "Assuming they don't secede between now and then, South Carolina is holding their primary on Saturday, Feb. 29 — that's leap day, a day that only exists once every four years, just like the South Carolina Democratic Party. The South Carolina electorate is a whole new ballgame for the Dems," because it's not blindingly white like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Joe Biden "is currently leading among black voters, with 27 percent," followed by "former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with 22 percent," Colbert said. "Now that sounds surprising, but Bloomberg has been out there in the African American community, shaking hands and frisking babies." He's also "been accused in several lawsuits of creating an uncomfortable workplace environment for women, but he won't release women who sued him from their nondisclosure agreements," he added. "Oh good, yet another New York billionaire with a questionable history with women. Next we're going to find out about his sons, Merrick and Bloom Jr." There's a photo. It's disturbing.

Yes, "the real threat to Bloomberg's campaign is his past," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "While Bloomberg is out there trying to win the black vote in 2020, he's on tape in 2015 talking about black people like they're crime piñatas. ... Getting caught on tape encouraging police to arrest black people is definitely going to hurt you with black voters. It's the same way you would lose white voters if a tape came out of you saying that pets aren't the same as babies."

Bloomberg is trying to explain away his stop-and-frisk comments, but in real life "he encouraged his police department to treat black people like they were all criminals," Noah said. "As much as he tries to move forward and get out of this, reporters won't let this story go. They keep hassling him at events, questioning him about his motives, just trying to find any little thing that he's done wrong. It must so frustrating for him. And to that, I say: Mike Bloomberg, welcome to the world of stop-and-frisk."

Noah also compared Bloomberg to Tyrion Lannister in an elaborate 2020 campaign–Game of Thrones analogy.

Noah also compared Trump to too much GoT, and warned Democrats against ideological purity, between scenes. Watch below. Peter Weber

February 13, 2020

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, with former Mayor Pete Buttigieg coming in a close second, Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "During his speech, Mayor Pete gave Bernie a bit of a backhanded compliment," though "it is true: Pete did actually admire Bernie in high school. He even wrote an essay about him that won what's called the Profile in Courage Essay Contest. Profiles in Courage, of course, was written by JFK, who also wrote a high school essay about looking up to Bernie Sanders."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) came in a strong third, and "New Hampshire also had some winners who won less than the actual winners," Colbert said. He impersonated Sen. Elizabeth Warren's dog placing her election party order and reimagined Joe Biden's panicked staff quotes as a Civil War letter home. "Last night was also the end of the Fury Road for some candidates," including Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) — "this was shocking to all the voters who had no idea he dropped into the presidential race" — former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and Andrew Yang, Colbert said. "Yang's now out of a job. You know what he could use? $1,000 a month."

"For some reason," President Trump was also asked to weigh in on the Democratic race Wednesday, and he said Sanders seems to be the frontrunner in part because "people like his message," Colbert said. He played "Bernie's message" — let's defeat Trump — and laughed: "He's right: A lot of people do like his message."

The Daily Show's Ronny Chiang was "a little sad" Yang dropped out, but he still went to check how Yang's $1,000-a-month pilot program worked with a "lucky" family he tested it on.

"Last night may have been the best night for Bernie Sanders since he won that free cruise on Noah's Ark, but New Hampshire's biggest surprise was Amy Klobuchar," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. Biden, on the other hand, left New Hampshire before the polls even closed, flying to South Carolina, where he leaned into his support among African Americans. "That's right, Joe Biden's campaign has basically become a Medea movie: If black people don't turn up, it's toast," Noah said. He saw Biden's point, though, and compared lily-white Iowa and New Hampshire shaping the Democratic race to a buffet where white people pick the menu. Watch below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads