David Byrne and Bernie Sanders staged a mock presidential debate on Tuesday night in the hallways of Madison Square Garden, complete with a moderator, a podium, an empty chair and an old-fashioned microphone.
The final questions were played by Robert Towne, who was directed to ask Sanders about his running mate, Ajamu Baraka. Byrne then turned the mic over to Mr. Sanders, who introduced Mr. Baraka as “a young man with a doctorate in political science who is also a political organizer in Wisconsin.”
Mr. Baraka, Mr. Sanders said, had won a “beautiful campaign” for student loan debt relief, and in addition to serving as adviser, Mr. Baraka would be making his debut on the campaign trail, to tell “stories about people going to college today and having their loans.”
The debate began to devolve into the Democrats’ version of an old-school pep rally, with Mr. Sanders signing autographs and giving back-slaps to the audience. Mr. Baraka excused himself to load up with campaign signs and yelled a profanity at Mr. Byrne, a never-Mozart-in-the-park soloist on the piano.
And as Mr. Baraka marched back to the side of the stage, Mr. Sanders obliged a brief real debate.
“Are you there, David?” he asked Mr. Byrne, smiling and looking at his television monitor. “David, are you there? We’re giving you a chance to take one question from the audience.”