(NEW YORK) — NBC News on Friday announced the lineups for the first Democratic primary debates, officially setting the stage for the first direct clash between the crowded field of candidates vying for the party’s presidential nomination.
The first debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo, will take place over two nights on June 26 and 27. The committee confirmed to ABC News in May that the final 20 candidates will be divided into two groups based on polling averages and then randomly assigned to a debate stage – to prevent the higher polling candidates all appearing on the same night.
Here are the candidates that will take the stage on night one (June 26): Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
Here are the candidates that will take the stage on night two (June 27): former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, spiritual author Marianne Williamson, entrepreneur Andrew Yang
There are three declared candidates that did not meet the DNC’s qualification standards for the first debate: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam.
A first chance to go head-to-head
The first debates of the nearly two-year long primary season will give candidates a chance to confront each other head on and come as candidates are beginning to draw sharp contrasts between each other on both substance and style.
Earlier this week former O’Rourke took aim at Biden, the early front-runner in the race questioning whether or not Biden is the candidate that can galvanize voters and reflects the shifting dynamics in today’s Democratic Party.
“We’ve got to be bigger. You’ve got to ask yourself where Joe Biden is on the issues that are most important to you,” O’Rourke said in an interview on MSNBC Thursday morning, “Did he support the war in Iraq that forever destabilized the Middle East? Did he really believe that women of lower incomes should be able to make their own decisions about their own body, to be able to afford health care in order to do that?”
The same day, Hickenlooper, who calls himself a “pragmatic” progressive, decried Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ argument that Democratic Socialism is the most effective way to pass a progressive policy agenda.
“The urgency now is even greater than before. Democrats must say loudly and clearly that we are not socialists. If we do not, we will end up helping to re-elect the worst President in our country’s history,” Hickenlooper argued during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., “‘Socialism’ is the most efficient attack line Republicans can use against Democrats as long as Trump is at the top of the ticket.”
Now, Hickenoooper and Sanders will appear on the same stage later this month, a chance to hash out the argument over socialism directly.
The first debates will also give candidates their first opportunity to pitch their wide array of policy prescriptions to the major issues like climate change, healthcare, foreign policy, immigration and criminal justice reform, that have been percolating in the Democratic primary so far.
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