Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Joe Biden, who clashed over Biden’s history with busing during the first Democratic presidential debate, will meet again onstage later this month when the candidates gather for the second set of debates in Detroit.
The debates, split across two nights on July 30-31, will also feature a matchup of the field’s leading progressive candidates: Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have thus far avoided criticizing each other.
Here are the lineups for the debates:
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
- Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
- Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana
- Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana
- Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
- Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
- Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
- Marianne Williamson
- Sen. Kamala Harris of California
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
- Andrew Yang
- Julián Castro
- Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York
- Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
- Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
The lineups were announced Thursday evening on CNN, with the network’s hosts drawing candidates’ names out of boxes in a live television spectacle.
After a legion of complaints from the 2020 campaigns and the Democratic National Committee about NBC’s closed-door drawing to determine the lineups for the first set of debates last month, CNN turned its selection process into a prime-time special Thursday, with all the excitement of the annual televised NBA draft lottery, but with added analysis from Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer (and less heartbreak for the New York Knicks).
The drawing, hokey as it may seem as live television programming, is a high-stakes event. Next week is likely to be the last time many of the candidates will appear on a presidential debate stage in this election cycle. And the first set of debates proved that drawing a successful contrast with an opponent can provide rocket fuel for a campaign.
Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has raised the threshold to participate in the party’s third debate, in September. Candidates must receive contributions from 130,000 donors and earn at least 2% support in at least four qualifying polls to participate.
Just six of the race’s 24 candidates have qualified for the September debate. The rest are hoping for a breakout moment in the July debates, or elsewhere, to power a grassroots fundraising boom and new support in polls.
Who qualified for the second set of debates?
The same candidates who participated in the first set of the debates, with one exception: Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana will replace Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, who ended his campaign last week.
Once again, Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Mayor Wayne Messam of Miramar, Florida, failed to report 65,000 donors and did not receive 1% support in three qualifying polls.
Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund investor, and former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, who both entered the race since the last debate, did not qualify either.
How will the second debates differ from the first?
CNN announced last week that it will forbid the sort of raise-your-hand questions that led to a stage of Democratic presidential candidates announcing their support for extending federal health insurance benefits to unauthorized immigrants.
CNN will also not ask down-the-line questions like NBC, which asked each candidate to provide one-word responses to the same query.
(Biden on Monday pooh-poohed the NBC format. “I’m not doing any more raise-your-hand questions,” he told an audience in Des Moines, Iowa.)
The network also said it will penalize any candidate who “consistently interrupts” by reducing the amount of time he or she is allowed to speak.
Given the obvious benefit of interrupting to draw contrasts with debate opponents, it remains to be seen how effective this rule will be.
What lessons did candidates learn the last time around?
An onstage attack, skillfully delivered, can turn a struggling candidate into one on the rise.
Harris raised nearly one-third of her campaign’s second-quarter fundraising total in the week after she attacked Biden during the June debate.
Castro said Sunday that his campaign had accrued 60,000 donors since he went after O’Rourke’s immigration position — enough to push Castro past the 130,000-donor threshold to qualify for the September debate. (He has yet to meet the polling requirement.)
Castro, during an interview Sunday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said his first debate performance put him “on a lot more radar screens and a lot more lists of people’s three or four top candidates.”
Other candidates, he said, will likely be prepared to emulate his success when they gather in Detroit.
“As you move up,” he said, “you’re probably more subject to potential attacks.”