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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 SteyerTom SteyerLate donor surges push election spending projections to new heights New voters surge to the polls Trump leads Biden in Texas by 4 points: poll MORE, Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardHarris faces biggest moment in spotlight yet Ocasio-Cortez slams Tulsi Gabbard for amplifying ballot harvesting video Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Netflix over 'Cuties' film MORE (D-Hawaii) and entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangPelosi spars with CNN's Blitzer over COVID-19 aid: 'You really don't know what you're talking about' The shape of guaranteed income Biden's latest small business outreach is just ... awful 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 ClintonTrump may continue to campaign after Election Day if results are not finalized: report Hillicon Valley: Biden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked | Majority of voters in three swing states saw ads on social media questioning election validity: poll | Harris more often the target of online misinformation Analysis: Where the swing states stand in Trump-Biden battle MORE, the Democratic Party's nominee in 2016. The question led to a fiery exchange with Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThere's still time to put Kamala Harris front and center Hillicon Valley: Biden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked | Majority of voters in three swing states saw ads on social media questioning election validity: poll | Harris more often the target of online misinformation The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Pollsters stir debate over Trump numbers 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 BidenBiden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll Ivanka Trump raises million in a week for father's campaign On The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election MORE, thanks to the length of her exchange with Harris.