2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the November forum

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ATLANTA — Ten Democratic presidential hopefuls will take the stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta for the fifth Democratic primary debate on Wednesday.

MSNBC and the Washington Post will host the forum, which will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST.

Who will be there? Who won’t? What questions will the candidates be asked? Who will jab at whom? What will we learn?

Keep reading for everything you need to know for the fourth 2020 Democratic primary debate.

Who will be there, and in what order?

In order of stage placement:

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

Andrew Yang

Tom Steyer

What are people saying about the stage placement?

Biden, Warren, and Sanders will once again be center stage, but they will not be the only targets of the evening.

Buttigieg has surged in a number state and national polls recently, and has presented himself as a centrist alternative to Warren’s progressive ideas.

Warren and Buttigieg will likely go head-to-head on a number of issues, like health care. Biden could also see an opportunity to swipe at Buttigieg, who has established himself in the centrist lane.

What topics could come up?


The debate falls in the middle of a number of public hearings in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Most of the candidates in the Democratic primary field back have thrown support behind impeachment.

Medicare for All

Health care has turned out to be the most consequential policy debate in the primary. Sanders and Warren have advocated to overhaul the current health care system in favor of Medicare for All. Biden and Buttigieg, on the other hand, have pushed for a moderate approach to improving the current health care system. Warren, who has faced a number of questions about the specifics of her health care plan, will likely face questions about it on Wednesday.

Sexual Misconduct

Warren, Sanders, Booker, and Harris signed onto a letter Tuesday calling on the DNC to make sure NBC and its parent company Comcast conduct an independent investigation into the network’s “toxic culture” amid a number of sexual assault allegations.

While it’s unclear whether this will come up on Wednesday evening, NBC and Comcast have been dealing with the fallout of allegations against former “Today” anchor, Matt Lauer.

The women’s advocacy group UltraViolet pushed last month for the DNC to cancel the debate. The letter from the senators does not call for the debate to be canceled.

Jobs and the Economy

President Trump frequently touts the state of the economy under his administration, but Democrats argue that the growth the U.S. sees on Wall Street is not translating to Main Street. Expect Sanders and Warren to continue to push their messages of economic equality, while other candidates detail how they would help the middle and low-income Americans.

Who won’t be there? 

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D)

Former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.)

Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam 

Former Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.)

Marianne Williamson

Where can I watch the debate? 

The debate will air on MSNBC and can be streamed on and The forum will also be available on NBC News’ and the Washington Post’s mobile apps. The debate will also air on SiriusXM Channel 118, and TuneIn.

Hill.TV will stream a live 30-minute pre-show, as well as a post-debate show on The Hill’s YouTube channel. 

Tags Amy Klobuchar Andrew Yang Bernie Sanders Cory Booker Deval Patrick Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden John Delaney Marianne Williamson Matt Lauer Michael Bennet Michael Bloomberg Pete Buttigieg Steve Bullock Tom Steyer Tulsi Gabbard Wayne Messam
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