Good evening, and welcome to NPI’s live coverage of the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 cycle.
NPI staff are watching and sharing impressions of the debate as it progresses, which will take place over the course of two nights in Miami, Florida.
The format is as follows:
Candidates will have sixty seconds to answer questions and thirty seconds to respond to follow-ups. And there will be no opening statements, though candidates will have a chance to deliver closing remarks. The two-hour debates will zip by quickly, with five segments each night separated by four commercial breaks.
Ten candidates will face off each night on NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo after a total of twenty candidates met the Democratic National Committee’s threshold for participation.
Our live coverage begins below.
UPDATE, 6:11 PM: The moderators used Bernie Sanders’ identity as the hook for the second night of this first Democratic debate: they teed up their initial question to Sanders and then gave Biden an opportunity to take swipes at Sanders (which Biden declined to do).
UPDATE, 6:12 PM: So far, the candidates seem to agree that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, but not all of them support Medicare For All.
UPDATE, 6:14 PM: Pete Buttigieg explains that he’s for free college for people who don’t have a lot of means, but doesn’t think free college should be provided to people with means.
UPDATE, 6:15 PM: The best moment in the debate so far was when California’s Kamala Harris turned a badly framed question back on the moderators, inquiring why the mass media didn’t challenge the Republicans on how they were going to pay for their big tax scam.
UPDATE, 6:16 PM: How are you going to pay for that is a question the mass media loves to ask Democratic candidates, but Republicans generally seem to get a pass on how they will pay for increased military spending or whopping tax cuts.
UPDATE, 6:18 PM: Eric Swalwell made the most of his opportunity to riff about passing the torch; Joe Biden grinned as the bit went on before offering his own take on education.
UPDATE, 6:19 PM: Wow, a lot of crosstalk. There are ten candidates and they all want airtime…
UPDATE, 6:20 PM: Boom, there goes the dynamite. Kamala Harris shuts down the crosstalk with this: “America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how they’re going to put food on their table.”
UPDATE, 6:20 PM: Kamala Harris is having a great debate so far.
UPDATE, 6:21 PM: Sanders and Harris raise their hands to say they’d abolish private health insurance in favor of Medicare For All.
UPDATE, 6:22 PM: Kirsten Gillibrand explains her thoughts on transitioning from private health insurance to Medicare For All.
UPDATE, 6:25 PM: It’s unfortunate that Joe Biden and Michael Bennet are not referring to the Patient Protection Act by its proper name. That’s a bad example to set. Never pass up an opportunity to reframe… always reframe!
UPDATE, 6:29 PM: In almost the same breath, Marianne Williamson suggested that plans wouldn’t be of much use in defeating Donald Trump, then suggested Democrats needed to go deeper than just slogans. Huh? That the whole point of having plans… and offering specific ideas for building a better America.
UPDATE, 6:35 PM: After correcting Savannah Guthrie, Biden built on Buttigieg’s comments in support of new Americans being able to access healthcare, noting that immigrants pay taxes and pay into Social Security.