Live coverage: Democrats face off in first 2020 debate

Democrats are set to kick off their widely anticipated first debate of the 2020 campaign season as a crowded field of White House hopefuls compete to take on President Trump.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) will be the headliner of the night, having enjoyed a steady climb in the polls after unleashing a slew of progressive policies through the year.

{mosads}Joining her onstage will be New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro (D), former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).

Ten other Democrats will take the stage on Thursday night, including former Vice President Joe Biden (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Follow along with live coverage here, with the debate set to kick off at 9 p.m. ET.

Trump’s campaign blasts Democrats after debate

11:19 p.m.

The Trump campaign is weighing in on the first round of Democratic presidential debates, accusing the candidates of embracing socialism in a “mutual political suicide pact.”

“This debate was the best argument for President Trump’s re-election and should really be counted as an in-kind contribution to the President’s campaign,” Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump campaign’s national press secretary, said.

“The Democrats proposed a radical government takeover of American society that would demolish the American dream so many are gaining access to under the growing Trump economy.”

McEnany also accused Democrats of exploiting “the heart-wrenching images of the tragic deaths of a father and child near our southern border.”

“The truth is that these same Democrats first denied there was a crisis at the border, then claimed it was manufactured, and now won’t work with President Trump to fix it, choosing to slow walk needed humanitarian aid for illegal immigrant children,” she said.

— Max Greenwood

How much time have the candidates gotten?

10:53 p.m.

Wondering how much speaking time each candidate has gotten so far? We have you covered.
Through three commercial breaks, here’s a breakdown:

Booker: 9 minutes, 41 seconds

O’Rourke: 9 minutes, 24 seconds

Warren: 8 minutes, 21 seconds

{mossecondads}Castro: 7 minutes, 30 seconds

Klobuchar: 7 minutes, 12 seconds

Ryan: 5 minutes, 53 seconds

Delaney: 5 minutes, 21 seconds

Gabbard: 5 minutes, 21 seconds

De Blasio: 4 minutes, 35 seconds

Inslee: 3 minutes, 46 seconds

— Reid Wilson

Gabbard, Tim Ryan clash on Afghanistan War

10:46 p.m.

Gabbard and Ryan got into a brief exchange over America’s engagement in the Afghanistan War, with Gabbard proposing a complete withdrawal from the country.

Asked why current and past administrations have failed to pull the United States from the 18-year conflict, Ryan, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said that “you have to stay engaged in these situations.”

“Nobody likes it, it’s long, it’s tedious,” he said.

“Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan?” Gabbard interrupted, referring to the casualties that occurred earlier on Wednesday.

“As a soldier I will tell you that answer is unacceptable. We have to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. We’ve spent so much money … We are no better off in Afghanistan than we were when this war began,” she added.

Ryan rebutted that “I don’t want to be engaged,” and would rather spend dollars on rebuilding American towns, “but the reality of it is if the United States isn’t engaged the Taliban will grow … we have to have some presence there.”

Gabbard replied that the Taliban “were there long before we came in and will be there long after we leave.”

Ryan shot back that the Taliban protected al Qaeda, the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which shows a potential risk. 

— Ellen Mitchell

Booker, de Blasio lead pack in Google searches

10:45 p.m.

Booker and de Blasio both saw significant spikes in Google searches between 10-10:30 p.m., both blowing past the pack of Democratic contenders in the number of times their names have been searched.

Booker consistently led the pack, with more searches for his name than other top candidates throughout the first half of the debate, according to Google Trends.

Booker’s and de Blasio’s names were both significantly more popular search terms than other candidates’ names.

And on Twitter, as of 10:30 p.m., O’Rourke’s name was trending in first place, followed by Warren, Castro, Booker and then Tim Ryan.

— Emily Birnbaum

Trump re-shares ‘Trump 4eva’ video

10:42 p.m.

President Trump shared a video he first tweeted out last week that depicts him campaigning for office indefinitely.

The video, which is an edited version of a Time magazine cover from last year, features Trump campaign signs for every four years, plus one sign that increases until it reads “Trump 4eva.”

The president has occasionally mused over the course of his first term about the possibility of serving more than two terms, but he told The Hill in an exclusive interview on Monday that the comments are made in jest.

— Brett Samuels

Gabbard pressed on LGBT stance 

10:42 p.m.

Gabbard responded to questions on her past stance on LGBT issues, saying her views have changed. 

“I grew up in a socially conservative home and held views I no longer hold today,” Gabbard said when pressed by NBC’s Chuck Todd. 

“There is no one in our government at any level who should tell them who they have the right to love or who they have the right to marry,” she continued. 

Gabbard previously worked for an anti-LGBTQ organization run by her father, and was against the expansion of LGBTQ rights during her tenure in the Hawaii state legislature.

—Julia Manchester 

Biden doesn’t come up

10:39 p.m.

Democratic candidates have been eager to tear into front-runner Joe Biden in recent days.

But Biden wasn’t the focus of candidates in the first Democratic debate — in fact his name never came up.

A number of candidates onstage in Miami did refer to President Trump a number of times throughout the night. But Biden was eager to inject himself into the conversation on Wednesday night. Biden’s team tweeted twice during the debate: once on health care and another time on climate.

— Amie Parnes

Warren: I have a plan for dealing with McConnell

10:25 p.m.

Warren got applause from the debate audience when she said she had a “plan” for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), if he remains majority leader in 2021.

Asked by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd if she had a “plan” for McConnell if he is still the Senate majority leader, Warren replied: “I do.”

“Short of a Democratic majority in the Senate, you better understand the fight still goes on. It starts in the White House and it means that everybody we energize in 2020 stays on the front lines come January 2021,” Warren said.

“We have to push from the outside, have leadership from the inside and make this Congress reflect the will of the people,” she continued.

Warren and McConnell have locked horns during the Trump administration. Republicans voted in 2017 to temporarily block Warren from speaking from the Senate floor after she gave a speech critical of then-Sen. Jeff Sessions during his confirmation to be attorney general.

— Jordain Carney

Klobuchar says Trump ’10 minutes’ from going to war 

10:22 p.m.

Klobuchar said Trump is “10 minutes” and “one tweet” away from getting the United States involved in a war. 

“This president is literally every single day 10 minutes away from going to war, one tweet away from going to war,” Klobuchar said in response to a question about current heightened tensions with Iran.  

“I don’t think we should be conducting foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5 in the morning,” Klobuchar said. The remark earned her a round of applause. 

Klobuchar and other candidates criticized Trump for withdrawing the United States from the Obama-era nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers, saying that the move has precipitated the current state of affairs. 

The senator said she would renegotiate the deal if she were elected president in 2020, describing the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as a good but “imperfect” agreement.

Klobuchar asserted Trump “has made us less safe than we were when he became president,” referencing recent comments by Iranian officials that Tehran will surpass the caps on uranium put in place under the 2015 agreement.

She also said that she would go to Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) if there were any possibility of a conflict with Iran. 

— Morgan Chalfant

Tim Ryan vouches plan for school shootings

10:20 pm

Tim Ryan called for more mental health treatment in preventing school shootings. 

Ryan said “we need to start playing offense” in implementing mental health treatment in schools as a means of preventing school shootings.  

“We need to start dealing with the trauma our kids have,” Ryan said, pointing specifically to “social emotional learning, trauma-based care, and mental health care in schools.” 

 — Julia Manchester 

Castro backs nixing Senate filibuster for gun control legislation

10:20 p.m.

Castro indicated that he would back getting rid of the 60-vote legislative filibuster in the Senate if it was a roadblock for passing gun control legislation.

“In the Senate the question often is if the decision is between 60 votes, a filibuster, or passing common sense gun reform, I’m going to choose common sense gun reform,” Castro said, predicting Democrats would control the Senate in 2021.

The Senate’s filibuster has become a wedge issue during the Democratic primary, with activists arguing candidates need to back nixing the legislative hurdle if they are going to pass sweeping legislation like the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All.”

— Jordain Carney

Warren vows to fight for funding for gun research

10:10 p.m.

Warren vowed to fight for federal funding to study gun violence research.

“Gun violence is a national health emergency in this country,” Warren said. “We need to treat it like a serious research problem, which we have not done.”

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health are essentially prohibited from funding gun violence research because of a 1996 provision in a spending bill called the Dickey Amendment.

— Nathaniel Weixel

Trump slams NBC over technical mishap

10:10 p.m.

President Trump tweeted that NBC “should be ashamed” of having a “horrible” technical mishap during Wednesday night’s debate.”

“Truly unprofessional and only worthy of a FAKE NEWS Organization, which they are!” Trump tweeted.

The microphones cut out at the debate as NBC switched moderators halfway through Wednesday night’s event. The issue prompted a delay of roughly five minutes.

The president regularly criticizes NBC, and has suggested the network’s license should be revoked. That power falls to the FCC, which has said it will not revoke licenses based on content.

— Brett Samuels

Warren disappeared in second segment

10:08 p.m.

In the first half hour of the debate, Warren got more airtime than any other candidate.

In the second half, she disappeared, and Booker and Klobuchar made their move. Warren barely spoke during an exchange on immigration, a fight in which Castro made his stand.

Through the first half of the debate, Booker has spoken the longest, at 6 minutes and 20 seconds. Warren has had 5 minutes and 19 seconds to speak, and Klobuchar’s answers have taken 5 minutes and 5 seconds. Castro and O’Rourke have both spoken for 4 minutes and 47 seconds.

Ryan has only gotten 2 minutes and 11 seconds on the mic, two seconds shy of Delaney —despite Delaney’s attempts to jump in on other candidates’ answers.

— Reid Wilson

Technical difficulties prompt commercial break

10:05 p.m.

There appears to be some technical difficulties.

The candidates apparently couldn’t hear moderator Chuck Todd when he asked a question about gun violence. After his first attempt, he was greeted with silence from the candidates, and a second attempt didn’t yield better results.

We’re on a short commercial break until they get the mic issue resolved.

— Max Greenwood

 Booker declines to commit to rejoin 2015 Iran nuclear deal

10 p.m.

Booker declined to commit to rejoin the Obama-era nuclear deal that put caps on Iran’s uranium enrichment, which Trump withdrew the U.S. from last year. 

“We need to renegotiate and get back into a deal, but I’m not going to have a primary platform to say unilaterally I’m going to rejoin that deal, because when I’m president of the United States I’m going to do the best I can to secure this country and that region and make sure that if I have the opportunity to leverage a better deal, I’m going to do it,” he said.

All other candidates raised their hand to say they would rejoin the pact.

Booker slammed Trump for withdrawing from the deal, saying it has led to a recent spike in tensions between Washington and Tehran.

— Tal Axelrod

Joe Biden weighs in on debate

9:59 p.m.

Biden wasn’t in Wednesday night’s debate but he wanted a turn to answer a question on health care. 

After a question was posed on health care, Biden’s campaign immediately replied with the former vice president’s position on the issue.

“Let’s be clear: We shouldn’t tear the Affordable Care Act down: We should build on it,” the tweet said on the “Team Joe” account. “The Biden administration will give every American the right to choose a public option like Medicare to ensure everyone has access to the quality affordable health care they deserve.” 

Health care — one of the biggest issues to Democrats this cycle — came up early in the two-hour debate. 

Both Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio raised their hands in support of getting rid of private insurance.

Biden, the front-runner in the primary race so far, will no doubt face questions on healthcare when he takes the stage on Thursday night.

— Amie Parnes

Marianne Williamson jokes she ‘needs to learn Spanish’

9:57 p.m.

Marianne Williamson, who will appear on the debate stage on Thursday night, quipped during Wednesday night’s debate that she needs to learn Spanish.

“I need to learn Spanish by tomorrow night at 9,” tweeted Williamson, a self-help author.

Booker and O’Rourke are among the candidates on Wednesday who delivered answers in both Spanish and English. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who will also be on stage on Thursday, tweeted that his Spanish “is terrible.”

— Brett Williams

Gabbard’s sister accuses NBC of favoring Warren in the debate.

9:56 p.m.

In a tweet on Gabbard’s Twitter account, the candidate’s sister Vrindavan, noted that Warren has gotten more speaking time than “all the other candidates combined.”

“They aren’t giving any time to Tulsi at all,” she wrote.

Warren’s the highest polling candidate in this debate, running a steady third place in most surveys.

— Max Greenwood 

Gabbard calls out Trump’s ‘chickenhawk Cabinet’

9:53 p.m.

Gabbard said Trump’s “chickenhawk Cabinet” has led the United States “to the brink of war with Iran,” urging an end to escalating tensions and a return to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal.

“Donald Trump ad his cabinet, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and others are creating a situation that just a spark would light off a war with Iran which is incredibly dangerous,” she said.

Gabbard, who is an Iraq War veteran, said that “the American people need to understand that this war with Iran would be far more devastating, far more costly than anything that we ever saw in Iraq.

“It would take many more lives, it would exacerbate the refugee crisis, and it wouldn’t be just contained in Iran, this would turn into regional war,” Gabbard added.

She said the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew the U.S. from last year, was “an imperfect agreement,” but can be negotiated “to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and preventing us from going to war.”

Asked about her red line, Gabbard answered that if there was an attack against American troops “then there would have to be a response.”

— Ellen Mitchell

Castro: Migrant deaths should ‘piss us all off’

9:52 p.m.

Castro said the death of a migrant father and child, captured in a widely seen photo, should “piss us all off.”

“Watching that image of Óscar and his daughter Valeria, is heartbreaking. It should also piss us all off,” he said, referring to the drowned man Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria.

Castro said if he were president, he would sign an executive order on his first day eliminating President Trump’s zero tolerance policy, the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, and the metering policy, which he said was responsible for turning the two migrants away, prompting them to try to cross the river where they died.

Castro also emphasized the need to eliminate Section 1325, a provision that makes illegal entry a federal misdemeanor.

— Niv Elis

Castro challenges other candidates on immigration policy

9:50 p.m. 

Castro challenged every candidate sharing the stage with him to repeal Section 1325, the law which makes illegal entry a federal misdemeanor.

“I want to challenge every single candidate on this stage to support the repeal of section 1325,” he said.

Castro said the administration is utilizing the law criminalizing illegal entry to incarcerate the parents of families and separate them from their children prior to deportation.

The issue of family separations, which skyrocketed with the now-scrapped “zero tolerance” policy from the Trump administration, has emerged as a hot-button issue among the Democratic field.

— Tal Axelrod

Warren says Roe v. Wade needs to become ‘federal law’

9:49 p.m.

Warren indicated that she would support passing a federal law to solidify a woman’s right to choose as solidified by the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

The Massachusetts senator said that if elected she would “make certain that every woman has access to the full range of reproductive health care services,” including birth control and abortions.

“It’s not enough for us to expect the courts to protect us,” Warren said.

“State after state has undermined Roe has put in exceptions, has come right up to the edge to taking away protections,” she continued.

“We now have an America where most people support Roe v. Wade, we need to make that federal law.”

Several states have recently passed strict abortion laws, seemingly in an attempt to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

— Jacqueline Thomsen

Trump tweets ‘BORING!” during first commercial break

9:48 p.m.

President Trump indicated roughly a half hour into the debate that he was not entertained.

“BORING!” Trump tweeted at about 9:35 p.m.

The tweet came as Air Force One was stopped in Alaska to refuel while traveling to Japan.

— Brett Samuels 

Warren, de Blasio raise hands in support of scrapping private insurance 

9:43 p.m.

Warren and de Blasio were the only candidates onstage to raise their hands when asked if they were in favor of abolishing private insurance. 

The two candidates represent the progressive wing of the party on Wednesday night’s stage, highlighting the divide in the Democratic Party on the issue. 

Warren referred to health care as a “human right” when addressing the issue, while De Blasio went on the offensive against O’Rourke on the stage. 

“Why are you defending private insurance?” de Blasio asked O’Rourke. 

— Julia Manchester

Klobuchar responds to Inslee’s comment on women’s reproductive health 

9:41 p.m.

Klobuchar pointed to the number of women on stage when responding to Inslee’s remark touting his record on women’s reproductive rights. 

“I am the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman’s right to choose,” Inslee said. 

“There are 3 women up here who have fought pretty hard for a woman’s right to choose,” Klobuchar responded, referring to herself, Warren and Gabbard. 

The comment was quickly met with applause from the audience, and gained traction on social media. 

— Julia Manchester

Trump meets with troops in Alaska during early going of debate

9:30 p.m. 

President Trump met with troops during a stop in Anchorage, Alaska, during the early moments of the Democratic debate while Air Force One made a refueling stop en route to Japan. 

Air Force One landed just before 9 p.m. at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, at which point Trump stepped off the plane to meet with military personnel. 

Trump quipped that he chose spending time with the troops over watching the debate, according to reporters traveling with the president.

“I think they’re all going to do poorly,” Trump said of the Democratic candidates.

— Brett Samuels

O’Rourke, de Blasio engage in spat

9:25 p.m.

O’Rourke and de Blasio engaged in the first direct back-and-forth of the night, hitting each other on their stances on private insurance. 

“Private insurance is not helping for tens of millions of Americans, when you talk about the copays, the deductibles, the premiums, the out of pocket expenses, it’s not working. How can you defend a system that’s not working?” de Blasio asked O’Rourke after the Texas Democrat said he would not scrap private insurance plans. “You got to start by acknowledging the system is not working for people.”

“For those for whom it’s not working they can choose Medicare,” O’Rourke responded, saying that workers who negotiated their own healthcare plans with employers should be able to keep them.

Delaney eventually waded into the conversation, appearing to defend O’Rourke and saying he too would not eliminate private insurance plans.

“I think we should be the party that keeps what’s working and fixes what’s broken,” he said to applause. “We should give everyone in this country healthcare as a basic human right for free. Full stop. But we should also give them the option to buy private insurance. Why do we have to stand for taking away something from people?”

— Tal Axelrod

Inslee takes swipe at Trump on wind power

9:30 p.m.

Inslee took a stab at PTrump Wednesday. Speaking during the first Democratic primary debate, knocking the president’s views on job growth saying his views on wind power was simply “wrong.”

“Donald Trump is simply wrong. He says they cause cancer. I say they cause jobs.”

Climate change action is Inslee’s main candidate platform. Global warming has become a top issue for Democratic voters. Trump in the past has said wind power was an unreliable source of energy.

— Miranda Green

Booker avoids taking swipe at Warren over antitrust

9:23 p.m.

Booker declined to take a swipe at Warren over her proposal to break up big tech. Booker pivoted from a question about whether he supports breaking up the country’s largest tech companies by broadening it out, saying, “I think we have a serious problem in our country with corporate consolidation.”

Booker said he agrees with “the need to check the corporate consolidation and let the free market work,” then criticized Amazon for not paying $0 in federal income taxes last year. He noted if he were president, he would appoint judges at the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission who would “check this kind of corporate concentration.”

Warren replied, “We’ve had the laws out there for a long time to be able to fight back. What’s been missing is courage, courage in Washington to take on the giants.”

— Emily Birnbaum

GOP takes shots at each candidate as they’re called on

9:22 p.m.

The Republican National Committee targeted each individual Democratic presidential candidate as they spoke during Wednesday night’s debate, offering mini profiles as each one spoke. 

The GOP’s Twitter account shared photos of each candidate as they were called on for the first time. The blurbs included criticisms of the candidate’s record or their standing in the polls. 

The tweets were interspersed with fact checks boasting about President Trump’s accomplishments and commentary from Trump campaign officials.

— Brett Samuels

O’Rourke doesn’t answer if he’d support a 70 percent individual tax rate

9:21 p.m.

O’Rourke did not give an answer as to whether he would support a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent, after being asked twice whether he would support such a rate by the moderators.

The first question moderators asked O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, was about whether he would support a top individual rate of 70 percent — an idea floated by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

O’Rourke responded by saying “this economy has got to work for everyone, and right now we know that it isn’t.” He then started speaking in Spanish.

When the moderators asked O’Rourke a second time if he supports a 70 percent marginal rate, he again didn’t directly answer the question. However, he did say that he wants to tax capital at the same rates as labor and wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent.

“You would generate the revenues you would need to pay for the programs we’re talking about,” he said.

Trump’s tax-cut law slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Beto’s proposed corporate rate of 28 percent is the same corporate tax rate that the Obama administration backed.

— Naomi Jagoda

Eric Trump: ‘I’m already bored’

9:20 p.m.

Ten minutes into the Democratic debate Wednesday night, Eric Trump, the president’s younger son, tweeted that he was “bored.”

“I’m already bored,” Eric Trump wrote. 

Earlier in the evening, President Trump encouraged users on Twitter to follow accounts associated with his campaign for “RAPID RESPONSE, FACT CHECKING, and the TRUTH” during the debate. 

— Morgan Chalfant

O’Rourke speaks Spanish

9:19 p.m.

O’Rourke came out of the gate showing off his Spanish-language chops.

That’s a common tack for the former Texas congressman. Last year, in the midst of his campaign to oust Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), he proposed six separate debates, including two in Spanish.

It looks like he may be trying that strategy again as a presidential candidate.

— Max Greenwood

Klobuchar takes first shot at Trump

9:18 p.m.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) took the first direct shot at President Trump during the first night of the Democratic presidential primary debates.

Klobuchar, asked if her rivals were giving voters a “false sense of what’s actually achievable,” instead turned her fire on the president.

“Donald Trump just sits in the White House and gloats about what’s going on, when you have so many people that are having trouble affording college, and having trouble affording their premiums,” Klobuchar said.

She added that while she does worry about “paying for college for rich kids,” but that she has a plan that would make community college free, expand Pell Grants and make it easier for students to pay off loans.

— Jordain Carney

Warren takes first question of the night

9:15 p.m.

Warren fielded the first question of the night, which was focused on the economy. 

The Massachusetts senator, who is the highest-polling Democrat on Wednesday’s stage, was asked about the growing economy under the Trump administration. 

“It’s doing great for giant oil companies that want to drill everywhere,” Warren said. “Just not for the rest of us who are watching climate change bear down upon us. When you’ve got a government, when you’ve got an economy that does great for those with money, but isn’t doing great for everyone else, that is corruption, pure and simple.”

“We need to call it out, we need to attack it head on, and we need to make structural change in our government, in our economy, and in our country,” she added. 

Warren’s progressive economic message mirrors that of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) platform. 

Her focus on laying our detailed plans to voters in recent weeks has paid off for her in the polls. 

— Julia Manchester

Inslee takes swipe at Trump, blasts his take on wind power

9:10 p.m.

Inslee knocked Trump’s views on job growth sayin his views on wind power was simply “wrong.”

“Donald Trump is simply wrong. He says they cause cancer. I say they cause jobs.”

Climate change action is Inslee’s main candidate platform. Global warming has become a top issue for Democratic voters. Trump in the past has said wind power was an unreliable source of energy.

— Miranda Green

Trump’s YouTube campaign buy

9:07 p.m.

President Trump’s campaign took out a 24-hour ad buy on YouTube’s masthead on Wednesday as Democratic presidential hopefuls prepared to take the debate stage.

The exact price of the ad buy is unclear, but Google’s ad-buying site pegs the cost at greater than $100,000. Nevertheless, it’s prime digital real estate for the Trump campaign, with a reach of more than 60 million viewers, according to the Democratic digital firm Acronym.

— Max Greenwood

Don’t drink and watch: a message from Marianne Williamson

8:49 p.m.

Democrats across the country will be staging watch parties — and undoubtedly that will involve drinking games for some participants.

But author Marianne Williamson, an unlikely contender for the 2020 nomination, has a message for those about to down a drink: “have time for self-care.”

In an email to journalists, Williamson suggested instead turning “a drinking game on its head to give you a more healthy alternative.”

Her campaign’s suggestion? Yoga postures, or meditation, or hold hands and say Namaste. 

— The Hill staff

Sanders won’t commit to exiting if he loses

8:40 p.m.

On the eve of his debate, Sanders declined to commit to exit the presidential primary race before the Democratic convention if he fails to win the party’s nomination.

“I intend to be the Democratic nominee,” he said on MSNBC Wednesday.

“We’re going to beat Trump, we’re going to win the Democratic nomination,” he added.

The comments could prove controversial. Sanders faced widespread criticism from fellow Democrats in 2016 when he insisted on carrying out his campaign through the Democratic National Convention even after it became clear he would lose the nomination to Hillary Clinton. 

Expect Sanders to again be pressed about it on Thursday when he takes the stage, over a subject that still rankles Clinton’s supporters.

— The Hill staff

Trump already weighs in

8:33 p.m.

Trump is already sharing his thoughts.

In a pair of tweets sent while aboard Air Force One en route to the G20 in Japan, Trump touted the passage of criminal justice reform under his administration, while calling for candidates to be asked why past administrations failed to do the same.

Trump also knocked 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton and Biden, who will not be on stage until Thursday night. 

“Ever since the passage of the Super Predator Crime Bill, pushed hard by @JoeBiden, together with Bill and Crooked Hillary Clinton, which inflicted great pain on many, but especially the African American Community, Democrats have tried and failed to pass Criminal Justice Reform,” Trump tweeted, noting that a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill was passed during his presidency.

“Many said that nobody but President Trump could have done this,” he added. “All previous administrations failed. Please ask why THEY failed to the candidates!”

How much Trump will tweet during the debate has been a source of much speculation. That answer will soon be known.

— The Hill staff

DNC chair vows civil debate

8:23 p.m.

Worried that the Democratic debate will devolve into a slug fest? Not Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

Talking to reporters, Perez expressed confidence that nobody will be “talking about hand size” or “silly nicknames for their opponents.”

“We’ll leave that to the Republicans,” he said.

Perez was referring to the 2016 Republican debates when Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sparred over whose hands were smallest. 

The GOP debates were also marked by frequent tussles between Trump and the rest of the GOP contenders.

— The Hill staff

Dems spar over socialism

8:12 p.m.

That didn’t take long.

Even before the debate formally kicks off, a feud over socialism erupted after former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper walked through the spin room at the event venue to denounce socialism as a surefire general election loser for Democrats.

As Hickenlooper addressed reporters, Sanders was in the adjacent room, passionately defending democratic socialism in an interview with MSNBC and vowing to explain to voters why it shouldn’t be viewed as outside the mainstream. 

Both men are set to face off on Thursday night’s debate.

— The Hill staff

Getting ready to kick off

7:17 p.m.

It’s fight night in Miami.

All 10 Democratic contenders will soon take the stage for the most widely anticipated event of the 2020 primary.

Here is a complete guide of the night about what to expect tonight and on Thursday night.

Here are 5 things to watch over the next two nights, and what underdog 2020 Democrats can do to stand out in the date.

— The Hill staff

Tags 2020 Debates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Amy Klobuchar Andrew Yang Bernie Sanders Beto O'Rourke Bill de Blasio Chuck Todd Cory Booker Democratic debates Democratic primary Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Eric Trump Florida Hillary Clinton Jay Inslee Jeff Sessions Joe Biden John Bolton John Delaney John Hickenlooper Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Marianne Williamson Miami Mike Pompeo Mitch McConnell nomination presidential campaign Ted Cruz Tim Ryan Tom Perez Tulsi Gabbard
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video