Democratic strategist laments 'low bar' for Biden debate performance

Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins lamented the “low bar” that’s been set for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden, Sanders lead Democratic field: poll Schumer asks McConnell for Mulvaney, Bolton to testify in impeachment trial Nadler: Giuliani trip to Ukraine shows 'crime in progress' is being committed against American democracy MORE’s performance following the latest Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday night.

“When it comes to Biden, I think the bar is so low that as long as he doesn’t trip and fall on his face then I think it’s considered a win for him,” Hopkins, a founding partner of Northern Starr Strategies, told Hill.TV on Thursday.

"Right now, Biden’s whole thing is, 'I’m the only one who can beat Trump’ and the polls reflect that," he later added. 

Biden’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to Hill.TV’s request for comment.

Despite several shaky debate performances, Biden has remained near the top of polls of the crowded Democratic field, with the RealClearPolitics national polling index showing him with a sizable advantage over the rest of the Democratic field.

During Wednesday’s debate, Biden made a blunder while touting his support among African American voters and key Democratic leaders.

Biden claimed that his 2020 bid had been endorsed by the only black woman ever elected to the Senate, mistakenly overlooking fellow contender Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBooker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications Sanders revokes congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate MORE (D-Calif.). In 2016, Harris became the second black female senator to be elected the upper chamber.

Harris responded to Biden’s claim by throwing her arms up and declaring, “I’m right here,” before breaking into laughter along with the rest of the audience.

The former vice president quickly corrected himself, stating “I said the first.”

But Hopkins added that the fifth debate of the 2020 cycle did have some game-changing moments, pointing to Harris's performance. He said that the California senator had several breakout moments that “breathed new life” into her campaign. 

“We’ll see the polls haven’t reflected it but I mean last night she really took a swing,” he said. “I think she needed to.”

Wednesday night’s debate in Atlanta was markedly more civil than past debates, though there were a few key battles between candidates on certain issues.

Harris and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardDemocrats set early state primary debates for 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Gabbard news items generating more social interactions than other 2020 Democrats: study MORE (D-Hawaii) in particular sparred over Gabbard’s criticism of the Democratic Party.

“I think that it's unfortunate that we have someone on this stage that is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, who during the Obama administration spent four years full time on Fox News criticizing President Obama,” Harris said in response to Gabbard's criticism of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOlympic figure skater Michelle Kwan makes Iowa appearances for Biden The Memo: 2020 Democratic tensions burst to surface The 'Green' new deal that Tom Perez needs to make MORE.

Gabbard dismissed Harris’s remarks, calling them “ridiculous.”

—Tess Bonn