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Democratic Debate Lineup: Sanders And Biden To Face Off

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will all be on the debate stage together on June 27.
Scott Eisen; Kimberly White; Mark Makela; Scott Olson
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Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will all be on the debate stage together on June 27.

The lineups are set for the first Democratic presidential primary debates.

Among the debate matchups: Former Vice President Joe Biden, currently leading in primary polls nationally, will face off against Vermont senator and 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders, as well as California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will face New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Owing to the massive field of candidates, the DNC has spread the field across two, two-hour debates on June 26-27. It also made sure to split the candidates with the highest poll numbers evenly across both nights, to avoid a "kids table" debate situation. The Republican Party faced that criticism in its 2016 primary debates, when it put the lower-polling candidates in a separate debate from the higher-polling candidates.

Candidates for the June 26 debate:New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Candidates for the June 27 debate:Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet; former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; California Sen. Kamala Harris; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; California Rep. Eric Swalwell; writer and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

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To qualify for the debates, candidates had to amass 65,000 donors, spread across 20 states, or they had to get at least 1% support across three national or early-state polls.

Of the 23 major Democratic candidates, three did not qualify: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam; and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton. Bullock on Thursday sent a letter to the DNC arguing that he did qualify, but the DNC has not changed its lineup.

The lineups were set by a manual drawing at NBC News headquarters in New York with a representative of each campaign present, the network said. After the groups were drawn, NBC decided who would go on which night. Their placements onstage will be decided later, based on polling.

The debates will air on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo at 9 p.m. ET on both nights.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on The NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.