John Kennedy at Press Club 070119

U.S. Sen. John N. Kennedy, R-Madisonville, addressed the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday, July 1, 2019.

WASHINGTON — Sizing up the first night of CNN's Democratic debates, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy slammed Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination as socialists — fulfilling one candidate's prediction and winning the president's attention.

"I'm not buying the story-line of progressive versus moderate," Kennedy, R-Madisonville, said during an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday. “The lesser of two socialists is still a socialist.”

His comment prompted a tweet from President Donald Trump, co-signing the sentiment. 

It also met the expectation of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was one of 10 candidates who took part in the first night of the two-night debate event.

“It’s true that if we embrace a far-left agenda, (Republicans) are going to say that we’re a bunch of crazy socialists," Buttigieg predicted during the debate. "If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re gonna do? They’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists.”

One of the main themes of the debate's first night was centrist Democrats versus more liberal Democrats. A second slate of candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden, will take the stage in Detroit Wednesday night to debate.

Kennedy said when he watched the debate's first night he “heard a job-killing, soul-crushing socialist agenda.”

“The only thing missing was the Cuban national anthem,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, also tweeted about the debate, saying that it showed "Just how far left the Democratic nominees are willing to push their radical socialist agenda."

Email Elizabeth Crisp at ecrisp@theadvocate.com and follow on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.