- This Tuesday and Wednesday night, 20 Democratic presidential candidates will gather in Detroit, Michigan for the second round of 2020 primary debates.
- The first night will see the two progressive frontrunners — Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren – debate against a group largely made up of centrist Democrats who will challenge the two senators over their support of Medicare for All.
- Issues including healthcare and racial justice are likely to dominate the conversation on both nights, with Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker gearing up to take on former Vice President Joe Biden over his record on racial and criminal justice issues.
- This week’s debates will also be the last shot for many mid- and lower-tier candidates to make a strong enough case to Democratic primary voters to meet the polling and fundraising requirements for the third debate in September.
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On Tuesday and Wednesday night, 20 Democratic presidential candidates will gather in Detroit, Michigan for the second round of 2020 primary debates hosted by CNN.
On Tuesday at 8pm ET, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas. Author Marianne Williamson, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, and Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio will take to the stage.
The first night will see the two progressive frontrunners — Sanders and Warren – debate against a group largely made up of centrist Democrats, many of whom have attacked Sanders and Warren as advocating for socialism, with no clear way to pay for their ambitious policy plans.
And on Wednesday at 8pm ET, we’ll see former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro of Texas, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City face off.
Issues including healthcare and racial justice are likely to dominate the conversation on both nights, as Biden and Harris are gearing up for a re-match after Harris launched a targeted attack over Biden’s record on racial issues in the first debate.
Here are 7 big issues, rivalries, and alliances to watch during both upcoming nights of debate.
Harris and Booker are expected to team up to take on Biden over his record on racial and civil rights issues, including his alliances with pro-segregation Senators and opposition to busing.
Screenshot via MSNBC
On the first round of Democratic debates, Harris caught Biden off guard with an attack over his record on racial issues, calling Biden touting his work with pro-segregation senators "personal and hurtful" to her.
Biden seemed completely blindsided and failed to hit back at Harris in the moment, seeing his poll numbers take a dip while Harris’ rose in the immediate aftermath of the debate.
But Biden is preparing not to be knocked off his feet with an attack when the two face off again on July 31, telling attendees at a recent fundraiser that he is "not going to be as polite" with Harris this time around.
Biden and Booker have also been feuding for months on the campaign trail over issues of race. After Booker called on Biden to apologize for his comments about working with pro-segregation senators, Biden said Booker was the one who should apologize to him.
Booker — who has been a strong advocate for criminal justice reform in the Senate — also slammed Biden’s role in passing tough-on-crime legislation during Biden’s time in the Senate after Biden’s campaign rolled out a criminal justice reform package.
"It’s not enough to tell us what you’re going to do for our communities, show us what you’ve done for the last 40 years. You created this system. We’ll dismantle it," Booker tweeted in a thinly-veiled dig at Biden.
Healthcare is likely to take center stage on both nights, as moderate candidates attack progressives over their support for a single-payer Medicare for All system.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
On the first night, we’re likely to see sparks fly over healthcare between Sanders and Warren — who support Medicare for All — and more moderate candidates like O’Rourke, Delaney, and Hickenlooper, who support a public option to allow people to buy into Medicare.
Biden and Harris are also gearing up for a showdown over healthcare on night two. While Biden has proposed expanding on the Affordable Care Act, Harris rolled out a plan to enact Medicare for All over 10 years with a mechanism for private insurers to still compete within a government-run system.
Biden’s camp slammed Harris’ plan as unrealistic to implement, and accused her of trying to "unravel the hard-won Affordable Care Act that the Trump Administration is trying to undo right now."
Sanders, whose version of Medicare for All does not include a substantial role for private insurers, also took a shot at Harris’ healthcare proposal, with his campaign manager telling Politico that allowing private insurers to compete within the system would enable "more corporate greed and more profiteering within Medicare"
Sanders and Warren will appear on the same stage as they vie to win over progressive voters.
Sanders and Warren have been friends and allies in the US Senate for years, but tensions have risen between the two camps as Warren has eclipsed Sanders in multiple polls and in fundraising, threatening Sanders’ status as the progressive standard-bearer.
Despite the two campaigns reportedly reaching a non-aggression pact last December, some Sanders advisers have questioned the strength of Warren’s new surge in support and doubted her electability against Trump in tweets and anonymous quotes to news outlets.
In tonight’s debate, we’ll get to see the dynamic between the two play out in real-time. Sources close to the two campaigns told Politico that the two candidates are more likely to team up and provide backup for each other in defense of progressive policies while debating more centrist candidates, but anything is possible in the unpredictable environment of a debate.
- Democratic candidates are set to clash on healthcare reform plans and ‘Medicare for All’ at the second primary debates
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