Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate

Several lower-polling Democratic primary candidates received no speaking time for nearly the entire first half-hour of Wednesday's debate.

Billionaire activist Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerBiden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage MORE, Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardBiden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage MORE (D-Hawaii) and entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangYang expands campaign with senior hires for digital operations Biden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events MORE were onstage but otherwise absent from the first questions directed at the candidates, including on the issue of the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.

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The first question directed at Gabbard came about 24 minutes into the debate and centered around her criticism of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonYang expands campaign with senior hires for digital operations Top GOP legislator in California leaves party GOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties MORE, the Democratic Party's nominee in 2016. The question led to a fiery exchange with Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisYang expands campaign with senior hires for digital operations Biden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events MORE (D-Calif.), who also received little speaking time from moderators.

Steyer's speaking time began at just about the 29-minute mark and was devoted to questions about his self-funded candidacy and whether he represented the so-called special interests against which other Democratic candidates have railed.

Yang's speaking time started 32 minutes in, and in his remarks he thanked Steyer for spending millions to benefit organizations fighting climate change. He also faced a question from moderators about why he would be qualified to respond to major issues facing presidents, such as potential terror attacks.

Steyer and Yang both sat at less than two minutes of total speaking time at 9:35 p.m., according to a tracker operated by The New York Times. Gabbard sat at two minutes and 30 seconds, more than some higher-polling candidates, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Democratic strategist: 'Medicare for All' exposes generational gap within party Yang expands campaign with senior hires for digital operations MORE, thanks to the length of her exchange with Harris.