Biden, Sanders to be center stage at first debate

Biden, Sanders to be center stage at first debate
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll GOP set to release controversial Biden report Can Donald Trump maintain new momentum until this November? MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board remembers Ginsburg: She 'will forever have two legacies' Two GOP governors urge Republicans to hold off on Supreme Court nominee Sanders knocks McConnell: He's going against Ginsburg's 'dying wishes' MORE (I-Vt.) will find themselves next to each other on center stage on the second night of the first Democratic presidential primary debate next week.

The pair have emerged as two of the top contenders in the crowded primary pack and have presented starkly contrasting visions for the future of the party, with Biden casting himself as a centrist and Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, vowing to continue the “political revolution” he started with his insurgent campaign in 2016.

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Two other top-tier candidates, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Bogeymen of the far left deserve a place in any Biden administration Overnight Defense: Woodward book causes new firestorm | Book says Trump lashed out at generals, told Woodward about secret weapons system | US withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq MORE and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSocial Security and Medicare are on the ballot this November Harris honors Ginsburg, visits Supreme Court The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump and Biden vie for Minnesota | Early voting begins in four states | Blue state GOP governors back Susan Collins MORE (D-Calif.), will flank Biden and Sanders, respectively. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenGOP set to release controversial Biden report Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt MORE (D-Mass.), who has risen to the top tier in several primary polls with a litany of detailed platform releases, will face off against nine other Democrats on the first night of the debate, sharing center stage with former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas). 

NBC News, which will host the first debate on back-to-back nights June 26 and June 27, released the lineups for both nights Tuesday.

The lineup sets the stage for Biden and Sanders to go head-to-head for the first time, as the Vermont Independent seeks to cut into Biden's front-runner status.

The two have taken veiled swipes at each other in recent weeks. During a speech at the California Democratic Party convention earlier this month, Sanders criticized the idea of a “middle ground” approach to politics, aiming at Biden’s reputation as a moderate.

Biden said at a Chicago fundraiser last week that the country needs change but that “socialism” is not the answer, an apparent jab at Sanders and the progressive flank of the party. 

The second night of the debate is stacked with four top-tier candidates, and Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Harris are all seeking to make inroads with a Democratic base that must decide among 24 contenders

Though Warren will share the debate stage with high-profile candidates such as O’Rourke and Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into allegations of medical neglect at Georgia ICE facility MORE (D-N.J.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharBattle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight Sunday shows - Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death dominates Klobuchar: GOP can't use 'raw political power right in middle of an election' MORE (D-Minn.), recent polling shows her with comfortable leads over all of them.

The setup will hinder Warren’s ability to take on Biden and Sanders head-to-head but provides an opportunity for her to stand out as a front-runner in her own right on the first night’s debate stage.