Democratic debate in Iowa

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9:11 p.m. ET, January 14, 2020

Sanders and Biden had a moment on stage

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders shared a moment on stage as the candidates were introduced at tonight's debate.

Biden hugged Sanders and whispered, "We're close -- be careful of your arms."

Sanders laughed it off and the rest of the candidates were introduced.

9:01 p.m. ET, January 14, 2020

Tonight's debate just kicked off

CNN
CNN

The CNN/Des Moines Register Democratic presidential debate just started at Drake University in Des Moines. The candidiate are being introduced now.

Tonight's debate, which features six Democrats, is the last one before the Iowa caucuses next month.

8:54 p.m. ET, January 14, 2020

Here's who didn't qualify for the debate

In order to qualify for tonight's debate, Democratic presidential candidates needed to meet both polling and fundraising minimums.

For the polling criteria, candidates needed to receive 5% in at least four DNC-approved national or early state (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) polls, or receive 7% in two early state polls.

Candidates also needed to receive donations from at least 225,000 unique donors, and a minimum of 1,000 unique donors per state in at least 20 different states.

Only six candidates — Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar — met the criteria.

Here's who didn't make the cut:

  • Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
  • Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
  • Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
  • Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
  • Businessman Andrew Yang

8:52 p.m. ET, January 14, 2020

This is what it looked like outside today's debate

Six of the Democratic presidential candidates will take the stage at tonight's debate in Iowa.

Earlier today, the candidates' supporters — as well as President Trump's — gathered at Drake University in Des Moines ahead of the debate.

Here's what it looked like:

Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images
Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)
Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

8:50 p.m. ET, January 14, 2020

Meanwhile, Trump is holding a rally in Wisconsin

 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

As Democratic candidates gather in Iowa for tonight's debate, President Trump is holding a rally in Milwaukee.

Trump just told the crowd that he doesn’t believe Sen. Bernie Sanders told Sen. Elizabeth Warren that he didn’t believe a woman would succeed at running for president. 

“According to (Warren), Bernie said — and I don’t believe that he said this because you know, I don’t know him, I don’t particularly like him, he’s a nasty guy, but I don’t believe he said it. It’s not his deal,” Trump said. 

He continued: “She said that Bernie stated strongly that a woman can’t win for president. … I don’t believe that Bernie said that. I really don’t. … It’s not the kind of a thing he’d say.”

CNN first reported that Sanders told Warren during a private 2018 meeting that a woman wouldn’t be able to win the presidency. Sanders denied the characterization of the meeting.

8:40 p.m. ET, January 14, 2020

What the latest Iowa poll shows ahead of tonight's debate

Iowa's likely caucusgoers are closely divided between four top candidates just weeks out from the Democratic caucuses, a new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll shows.

Here's where they stand:

They are followed by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (6%) and businessman Andrew Yang (5%), while the rest of the field falls at 3% or less.

Around one in eight likely caucusgoers still have no first choice, even with caucus day less than a month away. Results for the full sample of likely caucusgoers have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

8:32 p.m. ET, January 14, 2020

Sanders focuses on Biden ahead of debate

Bernie Sanders' campaign is not addressing the situation with Sen. Elizabeth Warren situation ahead of tonight's debate.

One top Sanders aide tells CNN that his focus tonight will be — as we’ve seen recently in public comments — on drawing sharp contrasts with former Vice President Joe Biden on his foreign policy record, especially with regard to Iraq, and on Biden's past comments and positions on social security.

About the Warren situation: Sources said Sanders told Warren in a private 2018 meeting that a woman can't win the election.

These previously unreported details from the two senators' private meeting shed new light on the careful efforts that Warren and Sanders appear to have made to manage their friendship and political rivalry even before the 2020 race was officially underway. From the start, even as both candidates were determined to capture the Democratic nomination, they were also keenly sensitive to the risk that their rivalry could divide the progressive movement.

8:22 p.m. ET, January 14, 2020

Iowans are still making up their minds about the candidates

Supporters of presidential candidate Amy Kobluchar demonstrate at the Drake University campus in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14, 2020.
Supporters of presidential candidate Amy Kobluchar demonstrate at the Drake University campus in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14, 2020. Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

Iowans are still making up their minds about the Democratic presidential candidates.

CNN spoke to voters this week. Here's what they said:

  • Albin Mehmedovic, 27, said he likes Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders: "I really like Bernie because I feel like he's genuine. He's kind of kept the same thing consistent throughout time," he said. "With somebody like Bernie I can fully get behind him."
  • Maxine Bussanmas, 76, said she has decided to caucus for Joe Biden. "Right now we need experience and we also need international good will. World leaders respect him," she said of Biden. "Our standing in the world has been totally tanked by our President. Something new crops up every day."
  • Connie Bosier, 69, said she decided to caucus for former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. "He seems to care about everyone, not just one group or another," she said. "I'm really not a Biden fan, because I really think that he's already had the chance."
  • Mike and Vicky Brenner said they are undecided. Mike Brenner said right now he supports Biden, Buttigieg and Bennet "even-steven." Vicky Brenner said she's still neutral: "I love all of our candidates. It's a great problem to have."
8:12 p.m. ET, January 14, 2020

What you need to know about the Iowa caucuses

You'll probably hear a lot about the Iowa caucuses at tonight's Democratic debate. Here's why they matter:

  • The first votes: Iowans will cast the first votes for the 2020 election on Feb. 3.
  • How it works: Iowa's caucus rules require candidates to reach 15% at individual voting sites in order to amass delegates.
  • What the polls show now: The latest CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll shows Iowa's likely caucusgoers are closely divided between four top candidates — Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. Sanders (20%), Warren (17%), Buttigieg (16%) and Biden (15%) all cluster tightly at the top of the pack.
  • Why the debate matters: Tonight's debate will be a key moment for voters, and the best chance for a candidate to move up in the top three list or eliminate other candidates from a voter's list.

Watch to learn more about Iowa's caucuses: