The sketch opened with a scene of the debate’s moderator panel featuring SNL cast members Mikey Day, Ego Nwodim and Beck Bennett as ABC hosts and reporters, George Stephanopoulos, Linsey Davis and David Muir, respectively.
After dismissing Davis and Muir as “optics,” Stephanopoulos commented on this week’s events leading up the debate — the Iowa caucus disaster and U.S. President Donald Trump‘s impeachment acquittal — before introducing the debate’s participants, or as he called them, “future MSNBC contributors.”
“You know, I’ll be honest … Iowa was a real kick in the nuts,” opened Joe Biden, played by actor Jason Sudeikis, in reference to his poor performance in Iowa.
“But I’m not worried at all because, you know, I’ll be honest — by the time we get to south Khakalacki, Joe Biden’s gonna do what Joe Biden does best — creep up from behind.”
Next was South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, played again by Colin Jost, who was asked who he thought won.
“Uh, Donald Trump,” said Buttigieg.
“I mean out of the Democrats,” clarified Stephanopoulos.
“Oh … then I guess me!” Buttigieg responded.
Bernie Sanders, who was once again played by comedian Larry David, interjected, complaining about the Iowa caucus “mess.”
“I can’t believe all this mess happened in Iowa because of an app,” said Sanders. “Hey, I have an idea for an app … It’s called no app!”
“No apps, no computers, no gadgets, no gizmos. You show up to your polling place, take a number like you do at the butcher, they call your ticket, walk up to the counter and say to the guy ‘give me a pound of whatever’s about to go bad.”
Next on the debate was Andrew Yang, played by SNL cast member Bowen Yang.
Yang likened the Iowa caucus results to a math problem, then pointing to a “MATH” pin on his lapel.
Next up came Elizabeth Warren, played again by Kate McKinnon, who tried to redirect the failure of the Iowa caucus to the “here and now.”
“I am very confident about my chances in New Hampshire,” said Warren. “I tend to really connect with New England moms who own big dogs and rock a fleece vest seven days a week.”
“Look, New Hampshire, your state border may be kissing Vermont but your a – – is resting on Massachussetts, so come on over and sit on my lap,” Warren said while making cupping motions with her hands.
Warren, who is a senator from Massachusetts, was recently embroiled in a dispute with Sanders — a senator himself from Vermont.
Rachel Dratch, reprising her role as Amy Klobuchar, likened Warren to J.Lo and herself as Shakira during the debate.
“To Donald Trump I say olololololol,” she said in a bid to copy Colombian singer Shakira’s zaghrouta — a traditional Arabic high-pitched vocal sound popularized by her performance at last week’s Super Bowl LIV halftime show.
Tom Steyer was played by Pete Davidson, while fellow Democratic nominee Michael Bloomberg, played by former SNL cast member Fred Armisen, made a cameo appearance in the form of the debate’s sponsor.
The presidential hopefuls then made their closing statements.
“You know, I didn’t come here to make friends. But damn it, I made some great ones,” said Steyer.
“It’s been an honour, ladies and gentlemen.”
Saturday Night Live was hosted for the first time by drag queen legend RuPaul, while Justin Bieber returned as a musical guest.