Welcome to the first night of the two-day Democratic debate at Detroit’s Fox Theater. Of the ten candidates participating Tuesday, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have the best poll numbers. They’re behind only Joe Biden, who will debate Wednesday.
Sanders and Warren are competing for the support of the most liberal wing of the party, while many of the others on stage are offering a more centrist approach.
By the luck of the draw, the Democratic candidates of color are all appearing Wednesday. President Donald Trump’s attacks on minority members of Congress and the districts they represent have put a spotlight on the issue of race. Detroit, the host city for the debate, is 80% African American.
Some of tonight’s candidates could be making their last debate appearance if they don’t find a way to break out. Qualifications are tightening for the next round in September.
The five who didn’t make this week’s cut are: former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, former Rep. Joe Sestak, Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messman and billionaire activist Tom Steyer.
There will be one new face on stage from the last debate: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.
You won’t see California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who ended his campaign after he failed to gain traction from the June debate
From left to right, the candidates are: activist Marianne Williamson; Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; former Maryland Rep. John Delaney; former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.
The debates, which will begin at 8 p.m. EDT, will air on CNN as well as online at CNN.com.
The moderators are Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper.
Unlike the first round of debates in July, candidates will give opening statements in addition to their closing remarks. And they will not be asked to raise their hand or give a one-word answer to any question.
They will have 60 seconds to respond to a question from a moderator and 30 seconds for rebuttals if attacked by another candidate.
Anyone who constantly interrupts will be docked time.
Their focus is on the debate, but nearly a dozen Democratic candidates took time Tuesday to weigh in on another issue that will be critical for their campaigns: Donors.
Eleven Democratic candidates have endorsed a proposed 28th amendment to the Constitution designed to override a Supreme Court decision that equates campaign donations with free speech. The idea is being pushed by an advocacy group called American Promise, which hopes to get all of the candidates to sign on.
The proposed amendment “is necessary to put power back into the hands of the American people,” said Jeff Clements, president of American Promise.
The supporters so far: Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet, Tom Steyer, Marianne Williamson, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, and Tim Ryan.
The entire Senate Democratic caucus also proposed a 28th amendment on Tuesday, a long-shot proposal designed to reverse a Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court struck down laws that had prevented corporations and labor unions from using funds for political advertising, saying the bans violated free speech rights.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will take a break from his rhetorical boycott of CNN to tune in for the Democratic debate.
“I’ll be watching the debates tonight,” Trump told C-SPAN in an interview, excerpts of which were released before the debate. “If I didn’t – you’d say ‘I can’t imagine.’ I would like to know who I’ll be running against.”
Of course, the president didn’t entirely miss the opportunity to knock the network he loves to hate. CNN is hosting the second round of debates in Detroit.
“It’s such incorrect reporting,” Trump said. “That’s why their rating went down so low.”
The entire C-SPAN interview will air after the debate.
Trump’s campaign took out full-page ads in the Detroit newspapers Tuesday attacking Democrats on health care, immigration and taxes. The ad shows candidates from the last debate raising their hands when asked about some of those issues, including whether they support providing health care to undocumented immigrants. All said they do.
Television ads with the same message were expected to air during the debates.
That position, however, has also been criticized by some Democrats. Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Barack Obama’s chief of staff, publicly advised candidates Monday not to “fall into the traps that had many of us shaking our heads” during the June debates.
“Before our party promises health care coverage to undocumented immigrants — a position not even Ted Kennedy took – let’s help the more than 30 million Americans who are a single illness away from financial ruin,” Emanuel wrote.
For its part, the Democratic National Committee sent officials to a closing automobile plant in Michigan to “highlight Trump’s broken promises on the economy.”
Voters appear less excited about the second set of Democratic debates than the first rounds in June, according to an Emerson poll released Tuesday.
Less than six in ten of those surveyed planned on watching some of the debates, compared to the 72% who planned to watch the June debates.
Both tonight’s debate and the Bachelorette finale are slated to run from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST — and some viewers are torn over which high-stakes drama to watch.
Joe Biden maintains his lead, with about one-third of Democrats picking Biden as their favorite in three national surveys out Tuesday.
But Biden has lost his lead in Iowa, according to a survey by Optimus for Firehouse Strategies. Elizabeth Warren has a slight edge over Biden in the first state where Democrats will vote next year. Biden continues to lead in the other early voting states of New Hampshire and South Carolina. But his support has softened since May, according to the survey.
Nationally, Biden does best with older voters and those who describe themselves as “moderate” or “conservative,” according to the Emerson poll. Bernie Sanders is the favorite of those under 30 and “very liberal” voters.
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