Tonight’s Democratic debate – the final one of 2019 – features seven candidates; the four leading candidates Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren, as well as Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer.
Of the remaining candidates, who won’t be there? Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bloomberg, Deval Patrick, Michael Benne, and Marianne Williamson.
“The pressure on the candidates to manufacture drama will be considerable,” notes Politico, which is hosting the event along with PBS NewsHour.
With less than two month until the Iowa caucuses, and some candidates having seen their polls (and odds) collapse, tonight’s anti-Trump get-together will be their last chance for redemption before the news cycle calms a little.
The debate comes exactly one day after the House voted to impeach President Trump. The issue will now go to the Senate where a trial will be held. Three of the candidates on stage, Warren, Sanders, and Klobuchar, will be called back to Washington for the trial. Expect them to field questions about the topic. Biden could also face questions given Trump’s call for Ukraine to investigate him and his son, which kicked off the impeachment inquiry.
While he did not make the debate stage, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has led the charge in calling for more diversity on the debate stage. Booker and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro were joined by all of the candidates appearing on Thursday’s debate in requesting the Democratic National Committee lower the qualification standards for debates in January and February. The topic could come up, given the attention it’s gotten in the run-up to the forum.
The Democratic Party has long maintained strong connections to the labor movement in the U.S., and those ties were on display earlier this week when all of the candidates pledged not to cross the picket line if Sodexo and Unite Here Local 11 did not come to an agreement. The candidates could receive some questions on how they would work with labor groups as president.
The issue of combatting climate change could also come up, given California’s struggle this year with wildfires. Environment advocate Greta Thunberg has also been in the news recently after being named Time’s Person of the Year. President Trump attacked her on Twitter after she received the award, saying she needed to work on anger management issues. Biden jumped to Thunberg’s defense, saying “What kind of president bullies a teenager?”
The topic has played a role in most of the primary debates, with the progressive candidates pushing for a “Medicare for All” plan, while centrist candidates have advocated for building upon the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. Expect this topic to come up as one of the party’s currently most hotly contested issues.
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Watch live (due to start at 2000ET):