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2020 Democratic debates
August 20, 2019

And then there were 10.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro on Tuesday became the 10th Democratic presidential candidate to qualify for the September Democratic primary debate in Houston. Castro had been close to qualifying for a while, after crossing the donor threshold and polling at 2 percent in three DNC-approved polls, but a new CNN poll, in which the former mayor of San Antonio hit 2 percent for the fourth time, put him over the line.

Castro joins fellow Texan former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on the stage in his home state.

The qualification means that the debate scheduled for Sept. 12 is at capacity, as the DNC is still capping the number of candidates on one stage at 10. So, if any other candidates — such as billionaire Tom Steyer or Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — pick up the 2-percent polling numbers they need within the next eight days, there will have to be a second night of debates on Sept. 13. Tim O'Donnell

August 1, 2019

With the frontrunner taking center stage, Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate picked up a larger audience than the night prior, although viewership for both events still paled in comparison to June's opening round.

About 10.72 million people tuned into CNN's telecast of the second night of presidential debates on Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter reports, up from the 8.69 million who watched the telecast on Tuesday night.

These numbers don't factor in online streaming; about 3.1 million people streamed Wednesday's debate online compared to 2.7 million who streamed Tuesday's, Axios reports.

This improvement wasn't surprising considering Wednesday's debate was the one with the race's frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden. It also featured Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and a rematch between the two was anticipated after Harris slammed Biden for his record on busing in the most memorable moment of June's debate. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) were among the participants in Tuesday's debate, while other Wednesday participants included Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

In June, the Democratic debates drew about 15 million viewers on the first night and about 18 million on the second night; as was the case this time, the higher-rated debate in June was the one featuring Biden. President Trump on Wednesday tweeted with glee about the Tuesday debate drawing "very low ratings," although a decline had been expected, as one also took place between the first and second debates during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

It is true, however, that viewership for the 2016 Republican presidential primary debates featuring then-candidate Trump were far larger than these Democratic debates, with the first one in August 2015 drawing a massive audience of 24 million people, notes the Reporter. In reference to this week's ratings, Trump tweeted on Wednesday, "they're desperate for Trump!" The Week Staff

August 1, 2019

Joe Biden is still making mistakes.

After being roundly criticized during Wednesday night's Democratic primary debates, the former vice president finished off the night with a big bungle of his own. His closing statement was riddled with errors regarding how much longer President Trump would be in office and, most oddly, a call for viewers to "go to Joe 30330 and help me in this fight."

It quickly seemed clear that Biden hadn't meant to relay a URL like his competitors had, but to request that supporters text a number associated with his campaign. Still, URL's reminiscent of Joe30330.com were quickly scooped up by competing campaigns and totally random people. That mishap somehow became Biden's biggest regret of the night, but as he went to correct it, failed miserably once again.

To put that into context, replacing "Joe" with "text" would've made the sentence as follows: "Go to text 30330 and help me in this fight." But as this post from Biden's campaign makes clear, that's still not exactly what he meant. Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn Krawczyk

August 1, 2019

Democrats' double feature debate days may be behind them.

With 20-something Democrats seeking to defeat President Trump in 2020, the Democratic National Committee has set donor and polling thresholds to limit the debates to two sets of 10 contenders. But with those minimums increasing for the third round of debates, just seven candidates look like they'll be on a single stage come September, The New York Times reports.

To appear in the Sept. 12-13 debates, candidates need to collect 130,000 individual donors and poll above two percent in four national or early-state polls. So far, just former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.); South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have made it.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and entrepreneur Andrew Yang have both hit the individual donor threshold, and need just one more poll to make the stage. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, meanwhile, has the polls under her belt but needs about 10,000 more donors, per the Times.

Only three other candidates — billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — have any qualifying polls that'll go toward a September debate showing. Steyer hadn't qualified in time for the past two debates.

That leaves former debaters Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.); Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; former Maryland Rep. John Delaney; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.); Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan; and spiritual author Marianne Williamson all hoping for some donor and polling miracles. Kathryn Krawczyk

August 1, 2019

The former Vice President Joe Biden pile-on continued after Wednesday's Democratic debate into the late-night shows, which brutally roasted him for his tendency to repeatedly cut himself off in the middle of a sentence.

Biden numerous times during the night ran out of time but rather than attempting to briefly wrap up his thought would either immediately stop himself right there or trail off before he could reach a natural conclusion. This was seized upon by Stephen Colbert, who during his live Late Show monologue played a clip of the former vice president ending a discussion about his health-care plan with an anticlimactic "anyway..."

"I don't know what just happened," Colbert joked. "Biden just joined the ranks of history's greatest orators, for who could forget Lincoln's great speech, 'Four score and, eh, you get the idea.'"

Meyers similarly played a whole montage of Biden immediately ending his sentences at the precise moment he was told he was out of time.

"He gave up so easily!" Meyers joked. "It's like when your grandpa tries to speak up at the dinner table and no one hears him."

Meyers continued by asking Biden how he's going to "fight for America when you can't even fight through the timer," reminding him that he's "going to have to talk over" President Trump if they end up debating in the general election. "His mouth never stops moving!" Meyers noted of Trump.

Colbert and Meyers also both ridiculed Biden for his "young and hip" use of terms like "malarkey" and for his odd moment of mixing up plugs by telling viewers to go to "Joe 30330," with Colbert acting out a confused Biden and Meyers worrying, "Did you just accidentally tell everyone your ATM pin number?" Brendan Morrow

Brendan Morrow

August 1, 2019

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough was quite confused and upset about Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate, raging against 2020 candidates for setting their sights on former President Barack Obama.

Scarborough spoke after a debate featuring former Vice President Joe Biden made up of plenty of criticism of the Obama administration, from his immigration policies to the Affordable Care Act. In the end, the MSNBC host concluded that Obama actually ended up taking more heat than President Trump.

"It is insanity, my friends," Scarborough said. "...We were sort of in a Never Never Land last night in that debate. It was bizarre."

Scarborough went on to suggest that "there are a lot of Democrats that are pretty pissed off" at candidates for "trashing Barack Obama's legacy," with the host only becoming angrier and angrier at the 2020 candidates who "just don't get the message" and who dismissed criticism of their positions as being Republican talking points.

"Give me a break!" Scarborough shouted. "What's wrong with you people? You're going up against Donald Trump and you're talking about defending ObamaCare as Republican talking points? Who is advising you?"

Co-host Mika Brzezinski agreed with Scarborough's criticism, suggesting that amid these attacks on Obama, Trump must have been watching "happily from the White House." Brendan Morrow

July 31, 2019

For those who watched Wednesday night's Democratic debate, it comes as no surprise that former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) spoke the most.

Biden topped the list with 21 minutes, 27 seconds of speaking time, The New York Times reports, followed by Harris with 17 minutes, 18 seconds; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) with 13 minutes, 5 seconds; and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) with 11 minutes, 25 seconds. Biden and Harris began the debate with back and forth on health care, and kept it up throughout the night, discussing immigration, criminal justice reform, and climate change.

The middle of the pack all had roughly the same amount of speaking time — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee talked for 10 minutes, 48 seconds; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) for 10 minutes, 47 seconds; former HUD Secretary Julián Castro for 10 minutes, 37 seconds; and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) for 10 minutes, 25 seconds.

Bringing up the rear, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and businessman Andrew Yang both spoke for less than 10 minutes, with de Blasio clocking in at 9 minutes, 17 seconds and Yang at 8 minutes, 53 seconds. During the first Democratic debate on Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had the most speaking time (18 minutes, 48 seconds), followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with an even 18 minutes. Catherine Garcia

July 31, 2019

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has made fighting climate change his campaign's top priority, and he wasn't afraid to tell former Vice President Joe Biden that his "too little, too late" plan doesn't do enough to solve the crisis.

Inslee's climate plan is based on four principals: power the economy with clean energy; invest in jobs, infrastructure, and innovation; fight for environmental justice; and end fossil fuel subsidies. "Climate change is not a singular issue," he said. "It has all the issues that we Democrats care about — it is health, it is national security, it is our economy. Middle ground solutions like the vice president has proposed or middle, average-sized things are not going to save us. Too little, too late is too dangerous and we have to have a bold plan." He added that it "doesn't matter what your ZIP code is, doesn't matter what your color is, you ought to have clean air and clean water in America."

Biden responded that he will take immediate action, and his plan calls for the United States to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and invest $400 billion in research for new alternatives to deal with climate change. When asked by moderator Dana Bash if there is room for fossil fuels in his plan, Biden said no, and he'd "work it out. We would make sure it's eliminated, and no more subsidies for any fossil fuel."

"We cannot work it out!" Inslee shot back. "The time is up. Our house is on fire and we have to stop using coal in 10 years and we need the president to do it or it won't get done. Get off coal, save this country and the planet." Catherine Garcia

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