Analysts say 2020 front-runners are at most risk for mistakes in debates

Analysts Vanessa Williamson and Henry Olsen said in an interview that aired on Hill.TV on Tuesday that the Democratic presidential front-runners in 2020 face the biggest risk of being damaged by missteps in the upcoming debates. 

"I think this is a really key point, the idea that the candidates who are in the front are at risk in a debate, and the candidates who are not in front have an opportunity," Williamson, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told host Jamal Simmons on "What America's Thinking" on Monday. 

Olsen, a columnist at The Washington Post, said that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersConfused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Confused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Biden leads in early voting states, followed by Warren, Sanders: poll MORE (I-Vt.) will face a big test facing other progressives on the debate stage this summer. 

"I look at Bernie Sanders and think this is a guy who's never been seriously challenged in his life, and now he's got people for the first time who are going to try to be more progressive," he said. "How is he going to react when somebody actually challenges him on stage live? Will he be presidential? Or will he make a gaffe?" 

The first Democratic primary debate is slated for June 26 and 27 in Miami, followed by the second debate, which will be held in Detroit on July 30 and 31. 

— Julia Manchester