Slate’s Democratic Debate Drinking Game

Get drunk on political discourse!

This Thursday evening, the nine remaining candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination will meet in Phoenix for the fourth debate of the year. If these events have started to blend together, why not grab a bottle or two of your favorite tipple and bring on the blurriness by playing Slate’s debate drinking game.


Take one drink if:
A candidate mentions an ordinary American by name
A candidate mentions Bill Clinton
A candidate mentions John Ashcroft
A candidate mentions John McCain
A candidate mentions Enron
A candidate mentions Halliburton
A candidate mentions a member of his or her family
A candidate gives out his or her campaign Web site URL
A candidate flourishes a printout of a strategy paper or a bill he or she co-sponsored
A candidate looks into the wrong camera during introductions
A candidate speaks Spanish
A candidate refuses to answer a hypothetical question
A candidate evades the question of whether they’d vote for Bush’s $87 billion
A candidate uses the phrase “when I’m president”
A candidate promises to “support our troops”


Take two drinks if:
A candidate says a rival is “wrong”
A candidate says he or she is “surprised” by something a rival says
The camera catches an audience member in mid-yawn

Drain your glass if:
You laugh out loud at a candidate’s joke

Finish the bottle if:
The candidates get into a fistfight

Kamikaze version: Take a drink every time a candidate mentions President Bush by name. (Note: This is not recommended if you have to work Friday.)

Even without Bob Graham in the mix, there are a lot of pols on the stage to keep track of, especially after a few belts, so you may want to focus on just one or two candidates.

Carol Moseley Braun
Take a drink if she:
Points out that she’s a woman
Cites the Mayflower
Uses the term “single-payer”
Refers to the “sticky ceiling”


Wesley Clark
Take a drink if he:
Says he’s “pro-” something
Answers a policy question by referring to his experience in the Army
Uses the phrase “be all you can be”

Howard Dean
Take a drink if he:
Mentions “Washington” disparagingly
Mentions Ken Lay
Is caught on camera in one of his weird grimace-smiles


John Edwards
Take a drink if he:
Says something is “the right thing to do”
Mentions “Robbins, N.C.”
Uses the term “millworker”
Mentions that he went to public school

Richard Gephardt
Take a drink if he:
Refers to a Bush policy as a “failure”
Points at himself
Says he “led the fight” for something
Says “dad” and “Teamster” in the same sentence
Mentions Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich in the same sentence


John Kerry
Take a drink if he:
Uses the word “sacrifice”
Mentions Vietnam
Uses the phrase “so to speak”

Dennis Kucinich
Take a drink if he:
Reads from his notes
Mentions “NAFTA” and “WTO” in the same sentence
Quotes poetry (even if it’s the verse on the Statue of Liberty)

Joe Lieberman
Take a drink if he:
Refers to a rival as “Brother [Name]”
Uses the word “faith”
Mentions Al Gore
Gets booed

Al Sharpton
Take a drink if he:
Accuses a rival of being a closet Republican
Comes to the aid of a rival who’s under attack from other candidates or members of the audience
Smiles (don’t worry, you’ll go home sober)

Intoxicate other political junkies: There are lots more debates to come, so we’d welcome your drinking game suggestions. Send your ideas to intpapers@slate.com.