The Democrats return to the debate stage tonight in Westerville, Ohio as they look to separate themselves from the competition for their party's 2020 presidential nomination for the fourth time this year. The Democratic Debate is hosted by CNN and the New York Times and is set to air live on CNN beginning at 8 p.m. EST. You'll also be able to stream it from CNN's Facebook page, or online at their website. Moderators will include CNN anchors Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, and New York Times national editor, Marc Lacey.
Twelve candidates qualified for tonight's debate stage, two more than what we saw in Houston last month. In order to qualify for tonight's debate, candidates had to show at least 2% in four early state or national polls as well as collect 130,000 unique donors. Seven other candidates who have declared their candidacies failed to meet those qualifications.
Tonight's debate will feature:
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
- South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg
- Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
- Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
- California Sen. Kamala Harris
- Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
- Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
- Billionaire investor and activist Tom Steyer
- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Foreign policy should be a major focus for candidates at tonight's debate. With Turkey invasion of Syria following the United States' withdrawal of troops from the area, the topic is fresh in many voters' minds - especially when it comes to what will happen to our former allies in the area, the Kurds.
The impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump will also likely take center stage at tonight's debate. As questions swirl around the president's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter's dealings with an Ukrainian gas company, has been dragged into the center of a maelstrom that threatens to sink Biden's campaign. Trump has alleged that Biden pushed to get Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was investigation into Burisma, an oil company that Hunter Biden was added to the company's board of directors. At the time, several international leaders had called for the ousting of the Ukrainian prosecutor, saying that Biden's recommendation had been justified.
Bernie Sanders will also likely face scrutiny, especially in light of a recent heart attack in which he had to have two stents inserted to treat an artery blockage. Sanders was back up and moving two days after the procedure, but, his support has fallen in recent polls, showing a 5% drop in support.
Finally, Elizabeth Warren
You can see a full primer on the candidates below:
Vice-President Joe Biden
Widely considered to be one of the top contenders in the Democratic primary, Biden has run for president twice before - once in 1988 and again in 2008 with 2020 considered to be the 76-year-old's last chance to run for president. After losing to President Barack Obama in during the 2008 Democratic primary, he went on to serve two terms as Obama's Vice President.
Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden grew up in Delaware where he would eventually run for the Senate in 1972 - becoming one of the youngest people elected to the chamber in history.
Biden announced his candidacy on April 25, 2019, as a centrist Democrat who says he's one of the few people on stage who can work with both sides of the aisle. One of his signature issues is to restore America's standing on the global stage as well as strengthening economic protections for low-income workers.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
The junior senator from New Jersey was first elected to the senate in 2014 after having served as the 28th Mayor of Newark for several years. Booker is best known for his progressive stances, giving him the third most liberal voting record in the chamber. As a social liberal, Booker has gone on record supporting women's rights, affirmative action, same-sex marriage and single-payer healthcare during his time in the Senate.
"There's nothing in that realm of progressive politics where you won't find me," Booker says of his political alignment.
Booker announced his campaign on February 1st, with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Sen. Bob Menendez and every Democratic member of the House of Representatives in New Jersey endorsing his campaign.
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg caught the attention of Democrats nationwide after writing an essay chronicling why Democrats lost in 2016 and how the party could recover in time for 2020. Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan in 2014 as an intelligence officer in the Navy reserve, was first elected mayor of South Bend in 2011.
One of the most progressive politicians running, Buttigieg announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on April 14. As one of the more progressive politicians running, Buttigieg is campaigning on not only his youthful appeal to voters, but also his support for universal healthcare, reducing income inequality, and universal background checks for firearms purchases.
Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
Julián Castro began his career in politics by running for the San Antonio City Council in 2001. At 26, he was elected the youngest city councilman in the city's history and went on to run Mayor, eventually winning the position in 2009. Castro served multiple terms as mayor of San Antonio until he was tapped by President Barack Obama to become the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 2014.
Castro launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President in San Antonio on January 12, becoming the first Texas in the race. At 44, if elected, he would become the third-youngest president in history. Castro has emphasized Medicare-for-All, universal Pre-K an d a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of comprehensive immigration reform.
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 after serving for several years as a field medic for the Hawaii National Guard in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. When she was elected to the Hawaii state House at age 21 in 2002, she was the youngest woman to be elected to a U.S. state legislature.
In February, Gabbard launched her campaign for the Democratic nomination saying that it was in the "spirit of service above self." She's best known for her opposition to American intervention in other countries overseas, such as Syria and Iran and supports abortion rights, Medicare-for-All and same-sex marriage.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
The former prosecutor turned California Senator has been representing California as its junior Senator after she replaced retiring Senator Barbara Boxer in 2016. Harris, who was born in Oakland, California, worked her way up in the San Francisco's District Attorney's Office in the 90s. In 2004, Harris ran for District Attorney of San Francisco, handily winning the seat. She later asked to serve as Gov. Jerry Brown's Attorney General in 2011, where she worked until she was elected Senator in 2016.
Harris, widely considered a top contender for the job, declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President on January 21, tying the record for most money raised in the first 24-hours after her announcement. Harris has a range of progressive policy positions including supporting single-payer healthcare, protection for illegal immigrants, and lowering the tax burden on the working and middle class while raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest 1%.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Senator Amy Klobuchar is the senior Senator representing Minnesota after winning her seat in 2006, becoming the state's first elected female senator. Before becoming elected Senator, Klobuchar worked as a partner at two Minneapolis law firms until she was elected county attorney for Hennepin County in 1998.
Klobuchar has been rated as one of the more moderate Democrats running for president. She is pro-choice on abortion, supports LGBTQ rights and Obamacare and was highly critical of the Iraq war. She's also one of the more prolific Senators in office, passing more legislation than any other senator by the end of the 114th Congress. According to Congress.gov, she's sponsored, or co-sponsored 111 pieces of legislation that's become law. During President Donald Trump's tenure in office, she's voted with him 31.1 percent of the time. Her signature issue is legislation to combat the opioid crisis and drug addiction as well as lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Klobuchar has struggled to connect with voters, joking in a recent appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher that she needed a 'viral moment'.
Rep. Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke shot to national prominence after he nearly unseated Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the 2018 midterm elections. However, he failed to garner enough votes to flip the seat for Democrats and decided to turn his eye to national office with a run for President in 2020. The 46-year-old native of El Paso, Texas, was the representative for Texas' 16th Congressional District from 2013 to 2019. Before that, he worked on the El Paso city council as a councilmember and was the co-founder of a successful software startup that his wife now runs.
O'Rourke has shown support for a Medicare for All plan that would allow ordinary Americans to buy into Medicare, which is often dubbed the "Public Option." He's also called for the elimination of border walls in El Paso and has called for a broad policy proposal that would help combat climate change.
Recently, his campaign has pushed the gun control issue after a gunman walked into a Walmart in O'Rourke's hometown of El Paso, Texas and opened fire, killing 22 people and injuring 24 others.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
The firebrand independent senator from Vermont (who caucuses with Democrats) is taking a second swing at the Democratic nomination for president after unsuccessfully running against Hillary Clinton in 2016. His career in politics began when he was first elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981 by a margin of only ten votes. In 1990, Sanders ran for Vermont's house seat and won, representing the state until he ran for Senate in 2006.
Sanders announced his presidential campaign on February 19 on Vermont Public Radio. The self-described Democratic Socialist has a range of progressive policy positions that include things like bold action on Climate Change, Medicare-for-all, and a tax system that is fair, progressive and transparent.
Sanders is likely to face questions about his health, following his hospitalization earlier this month in which the Vermont senator suffered a heart attack. Doctors inserted two stents to treat an artery blockage.
Billionaire investor and activist Tom Steyer
Billionaire investor and businessman Tom Steyer launched his campaign earlier this year after initially saying he would not run for the 2020 nomination.
Steyer has publically called for Trump’s impeachment, at one point running several TV commercials urging Democrats to get the process started. Steyer says he’s grown frustrated with the pace Democrats have taken in the impeachment process.
Steyer’s campaign is also focused on reducing the influence of corporations in politics and plans to make climate change a central issue of his campaign.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Senator Elizabeth Warren was elected Senator on Jan. 3, 2013 after defeating Sen. Scott Brown. Over the years, she's served as the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel of the Troubled Asset Relief Program and was a big part in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in which she served as its first Special Adviser under President Barack Obama.
A longtime critic of President Donald Trump, she announced her candidacy for the 2020 presidential election at a rally in Lawrence, Massachusetts in February, and has offered a series of policy-focused plans including ways to reduce student loan debt and offer free tuition to public colleges. She's also voiced support for plans to make large corporations pay more in taxes and better regulate large technology companies, and plans to address opioid addiction. She has introduced an “Economic Patriotism” plan, intended to create opportunities for American workers, and proposals targeted at Donald Trump, including one that would make it permissible to indict a sitting president.
Warren has seen her support steadily increase after an aggressive campaign strategy that has largely seen the Massachusetts senator avoid any major conflict with her fellow Democrats running for the 2020 presidential nomination.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Yang began his career working over the years in startups and early-growth companies as a founder or executive. In 2009, Yang founded Venture for America, a program that caught the attention of then-President Barack Obama, who selected him as a "Champion of Change" in 2012 and in 2015 as a "Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship."
Yang announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in November 2017, with his campaign focusing on what he called a "Freedom Dividend," a form of Universal Basic Income for every American over the age of 18. The Freedom Dividend is something Yang believes will be needed to combat the rapid rise of artificial intelligence and automation that threatens to put people out of work over the next several decades.
During his opening remarks at last month’s debate in Houston, Yang offered a “proof-of-concept” for one of his central campaign promises, a Universal Basic Income, by giving ten families $1,000 per month.
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