The June debate will feature the first high-profile clashes of the party’s nominating process, giving the 20 qualifying candidates an opportunity to define themselves – and their opponents – in front of a national audience.
Biden, Sanders, Harris and Buttigieg – four of the top five candidates in the race, according to polling – are on the same stage, setting up a scenario where the Thursday night debate could receive outsized attention. Warren is the lone member of the top five on the Wednesday night debate.
Biden and Sanders have also drawn the most fire from the other Democrats running for President, making it likely that the Thursday night debate could see the most fireworks. Hickenlooper has already attacked Sanders on socialism and a host of Democratic opponents have carefully knocked Biden.
According to NBC, the media sponsor for the first debate, a representative from NBC News Standards & Practices conducted the drawing.
Each campaign was invited to send one representative to NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York for the noon drawing. According to people in the room, the names were drawn and then NBC determined which set of Democratic hopefuls would debate on either night.
NBC announced that candidate podium placements would be based on polling and announced closer to the debates.
Candidates had to qualify for the first debate by either receiving at least 1% support in three polls from an approved list of pollsters or received campaign contributions from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors each from 20 different states.
Three Democratic hopefuls – Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam – did not qualify for the first contest.
The first debate on Wednesday, June 26, in Miami will include:
- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
- Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke
- New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
- Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
- Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
- Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
- Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
- Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan
The second debate on Thursday, June 27 will include:
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
- South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
- California Sen. Kamala Harris
- New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
- Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
- Author Marianne Williamson
- California Rep. Eric Swalwell
- Businessman Andrew Yang
- Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper