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Democratic debate No. 7: What you need to know

  • January 13, 2020

The field of more than two dozen Democratic candidates has narrowed to a dozen as the presidential race hurtles toward the first test of the 2020 primaries: the February Iowa caucuses.  

Yet only six of the remaining 13 candidates will participate in the 7th Democratic debate at 9 p.m. ET on Jan. 14 at Drake University. The debate will be broadcast on CNN, in partnership with the Des Moines Register, and will be streamed on CNN.com and DesMoinesRegister.com.

The Democratic National Committee has progressively whittled the debate field by raising the bar on individual donors and polling numbers. This month’s debate qualifications required candidates to have at least 225,000 individual donations. In addition, candidates needed to get 5% in at least four national or early-voting state polls, or at least 7% in two early-voting state polls, which include Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. 

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg met the polling threshold but isn’t accepting individual donations, so won’t be one of Tuesday night debaters. Those on stage include Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren. 

During the previous two debates, the DNC requirements were too high for three candidates who left race just this month: Sen. Cory Booker, who ended his campaign Monday;  Julián Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration; and Marianne Williamson, author and co-founder of the nonprofit Peace Alliance.

How the field has dwindled during since the first debate in June: 

Other candidates who have left the race since the summer: Steve BullockBill de BlasioKirsten GillibrandMike GravelKamala HarrisJohn Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Seth MoultonWayne MessamRichard OjedaBeto O’RourkeTim RyanJoe Sestak and Eric Swalwell.

Tuesday’s debate will be moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Abby Phillip, and the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel.

Here are short bios of each of the 13 candidates who continue to seek the Democratic nomination: 

In the January debate 

Joe Biden

Experience: Vice president, 2009-2017; senator from Delaware, 1973-2009

Quote: “It’s time to get up and get off our backs and remember the hell who we are.”   

Fast facts: This is the third time Joe Biden has run for president. He also sought the Democratic nomination in 1988 and 2008.

Website: http://americanpossibilities.org/

Pete Buttigieg

Experience: Mayor, 2012-present

Quote: “We can’t look for greatness in the past. Right now, our country needs a fresh start.”

Fast facts: A lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve who served in Afghanistan, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay nominee for a major political party. 

Campaign site: https://www.peteforamerica.com/

Amy Klobuchar

Experience: Senator, 2007-present; Hennepin County prosecutor, 1999-2006

Quote: “I don’t have a political machine. I don’t come from money. But what I do have is this: I have grit, I have family, I have friends, and I have all of you.”  

Fast facts: Klobuchar is positioning herself as a Midwest moderate who can work with Republicans. According to GovTrack, she introduced the most pieces of legislation in the 115th Congress of any Democratic senator and her bills had the most non-Democratic co-sponsors. 

Campaign site: https://amyklobuchar.com/

Bernie Sanders

Experience: Senator, 2007-present; representative from Vermont, 1991-2000

Quote: “Our health care system today essentially says that if you happen to be poor, you are less deserving of getting care than a wealthy person. That is fundamentally immoral and that is not the kind of nation we should be.”

Fast facts: Sanders sought the Democratic nomination in 2016 as well as 2020, but he has run as an independent for other offices he has sought. Before being elected in 1990, he lost two Senate and three gubernatorial campaigns.

Campaign site: https://berniesanders.com/

Tom Steyer

Experience: Former hedge fund manager and activist; founder of progressive advocacy groups NextGen America and Need to Impeach

Quote: “If we can reduce the influence of corporate money in our democracy, and start to address the devastating impacts of climate change, we can unlock the full potential of the American people and finally solve the many challenges facing our country.”

Fast facts: Need to Impeach, Steyer’s advocacy group whose goal is the impeachment of President Donald Trump, claims to have an email list of over 8 million people

Campaign site: https://www.tomsteyer.com/

Elizabeth Warren

Experience: Senator, 2013-present; Congressional Oversight Panel Chair for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, 2008-2010; former Harvard Law School professor.

Quote: “The man in the White House is not the cause of what’s broken, he’s just the latest – and most extreme – symptom of what’s gone wrong in America: A product of a rigged system that props up the rich and the powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else.”

Fast facts: Warren came into the spotlight for criticizing Wall Street, banks and large corporations after the 2008 financial crisis. 

Campaign site: https://www.warren.senate.gov/about/about-elizabeth

In the race but not part of the January debate

Michael Bennet

Experience: Senator, 2009-present

Quote: “I think we need an education president,” he told the Des Moines Register. “There’s no public good that’s more important than education.”  

Fast facts: Bennet was born in New Delhi, India, where his father worked as an aide to the U.S. ambassador.

Website: https://michaelbennet.com/

Michael Bloomberg

Experience: New York City Mayor, 2002-2013; CEO and founder of Bloomberg financial services firm

Quote: “The presidential aspirants are not short on big ideas. But voters must demand they explain how they intend to move from proposing plans to actually implementing them, including passing them through Congress,” Bloomberg wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post. “Those who dodge the question by speaking of revolution and the bully pulpit aren’t up to the job.”

Fast facts: Bloomberg was first elected mayor as a Republican in 2001. He was reelected as a Republican again in 2005, but two years later left the party. He was an Independent when he was reelected in 2009, and became a Democrat in 2018.

Campaign site: https://www.mikebloomberg.com/

Cory Booker

Experience: Senator, 2013-present; mayor of Newark, 2006-2013. 

Quote: “I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind.”

Fast facts: New Jersey’s first African-American senator, Booker has hinged his career on his efforts at overhauling the criminal justice system. He was also a Rhodes scholar and played football at Stanford.

Campaign site: https://corybooker.com/

John Delaney

Experience: Representative, 2013-2019; entrepreneur 

Quote: “Trump wants this campaign to be about socialism and we shouldn’t give him what he wants. We need to update our social programs to better fit today’s world, and we need to make capitalism more just and inclusive.” 

Fast facts: Delaney, who founded two publicly traded companies, was one of the first Democrats to announce and has been a 2020 presidential candidate since July 2017.

Campaign site: https://www.johndelaney.com/

Tulsi Gabbard

Experience: Representative, 2013-present; Honolulu City Council, 2010-2012; State representative, 2002-2004.

Quote: “I’m running for president to end regime change wars, work to end the new Cold War and nuclear arms race, and take the trillions of dollars wasted on these wars and put it back in the pockets of the American people.” 

Fast facts: Born in Leloaloa, American Samoa, Gabbard is the first Hindu member of Congress. She served in the Hawaii National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2004. 

Campaign site: https://www.votetulsi.com/

Deval Patrick

Experience: Governor of Massachusetts, 2007-2015; United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, 1994-1997

Quote: “This won’t be easy and it shouldn’t be, but I’m placing my faith in the people who feel left out and left back and who just want a fair shot at a better future — not built by somebody better than you, not built for you, but built with you,” Patrick said in his announcement video.

Fast fact: Patrick made history as the first African-American governor of Massachusetts.

Campaign website: https://devalpatrick2020.com

Andrew Yang

Experience: Entrepreneur; founder of nonprofit fellowship program Venture for America

Quote: “I fear for the future of our country. New technologies – robots, software, artificial intelligence – have already destroyed more than 4 million U.S. jobs, and in the next 5-10 years, they will eliminate millions more.”

Fast facts: Yang’s platform includes providing every American 18 and older with a basic income of $1,000 a month. 

Campaign site: https://www.yang2020.com/

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