Democrats face off in third 2020 primary debate


Ten candidates will meet on stage at the third Democratic primary debate in Houston, Texas, on Thursday evening. For the first time since the debates began in August, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will be standing on the same stage.

In fact, Thursday’s match-up marks the first time all of the qualifying candidates will be facing off on a single stage, since only 10 candidates met the Democratic National Committee’s tougher requirements for the third and fourth debates. Several candidates who did not make the debate stage have argued that the polling and donor thresholds for the debate were too stringent.

Follow live updates of the Democratic debate as it happens:

Which candidates will appear at the debate?

Candidates will appear onstage from left to right.

  • Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • New Jersey Senator Cory Booker
  • South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
  • California Senator Kamala Harris
  • Andrew Yang
  • Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro

How did the candidates qualify for the debate?

Candidates had to reach at least 2% support in at least four polls, which could be national polls or polls in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada. Candidates also had to receive donations from at least 130,000 unique donors, with 400 donors per state in at least 20 states.

The Democratic National Committee will hold its fourth primary debate on October 15 and 16 in Ohio. Since more that 10 candidates have qualified for the October debate, the debate will take place over two nights.

Campaigns will have until 11:59 p.m. ET on October 1 to meet donor and polling thresholds to qualify. The thresholds to qualify are the same as those for tonight’s debate, meaning that a candidate who did not meet the requirements for the September debate could still reach the polling and donor thresholds and make it onto the debate stage in October .

What to look for

Biden, who is the front-runner in most polls, has been targeted by other candidates for his record on issues of race and criminal justice. Kamala Harris challenged him in the first debate for his opposition to federally-mandated busing in the 1970s, and by Cory Booker in the second for his vote on a crime bill in the 1990s which disproportionately affected black Americans.

Thursday could shape up to be a test of whether the former vice president can fend off attacks on a political career that spans 40 years. Off stage and years ago Warren famously sparred with Biden before she was elected senator for supporting a bill making it more difficult for individuals to declare bankruptcy.

But candidates may also go after Warren, who has been rising in the polls, and Bernie Sanders for their support for single payer health care. In earlier debates, Warren and Sanders were targets for moderate candidates who argued that their positions were too extreme. However, several of those candidates did not meet the DNC’s threshold to appear on stage Thursday.

How to watch the third 2020 Democratic debate

  • Date: Thursday, September 12
  • Time: 8 to 11 p.m. ET
  • Location: Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas
  • TV Channel: ABC and Univision
  • Free online stream:, Good Morning America and FiveThirtyEight websites and mobile phone apps, or on fuboTV – start a free trial
  • Analysis: Watch CBSN for live coverage of the debates before, during and after
  • Follow live: CBS News debate live blog for real-time updates
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