The second set of Democratic presidential candidates takes the stage for the second primary debates Wednesday night on CNN.
Tuesday night’s debate saw a handful of moderate candidates taking aim at the leading progressives Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren primarily over “Medicare for All.”
The ten candidates sparred over everything from climate change to health care to nuclear weapons to reparations for slavery, with many of the lower-polling candidates using the opportunity to take shots at the frontrunners.
Wednesday night’s matchup will feature a string of frontrunners including former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris — both of whom got into a heated exchange over busing to desegregate public schools during their last debate matchup.
Harris dominated the first debate with a pointed challenge to Biden on his civil rights record. The former vice president and Delaware senator was on the defensive for days afterward. This time around, he’s promising he won’t be quite so “overly polite” if he’s targeted on stage.
But Harris isn’t the only one who might be spoiling for a fight with Biden. Cory Booker, too, has been openly critical of Biden’s plans to revisit federal sentencing guidelines. “For a guy who helped to be an architect of mass incarceration, this is an inadequate solution,” Booker said.
Follow along for the key moments from the second Democratic primary debate. The second night of the debate will get underway Wednesday night.
Watch CBSN for live coverage following the debate
Who’s on stage tonight?
Candidates will appear on stage from left to right.
Biden debate guests include mayor of Flint, Michigan
5:21 p.m.: Biden’s guests to the debate include allies of his campaign and mayors of major cities. A campaign aide told CBS News that the following guests will be attending the debate:
- Rep. Cedric Richmond, Biden’s campaign co-chair
- Sen. Chris Coons
- Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta, Georgia
- Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela
- Karen Weaver, mayor of Flint, Michigan
- Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP
- Kellie Nelson and Amanda Bolt, Debate Contest Winners from Charlotte, North Carolina
Biden has been criticized by Booker and Harris for his previous stances on busing and criminal justice issues. His guest list to the debate includes several prominent black politicians, whose appearances could bolster his support among black voters. Biden’s invitation of Weaver, the mayor of Flint, indicates that he wants to raise awareness about the lack of access to clean water still plaguing the majority-black city.
— Bo Erickson and Grace Segers
Harris releases “Medicare for All” proposal ahead of second Democratic debate
4:29 p.m.: Harris, who has spent some time clarifying her stance on “Medicare for All,” is now proposing her own version of the single-payer insurance plan. She’ll remain a co-sponsor of the bill introduced by Sanders, a campaign spokesperson said.
But there are key differences between Harris’ plan and that of the Vermont senator: Harris has proposed to double the transition period from the current health care system to the single-payer system, to reduce Sanders’ proposed tax on middle-class families to pay for the plan, and she would allow private insurance companies to offer Medicare options.
Harris’ plan would immediately give Americans the option of buying into a Medicare system. It would allow for Medicare for All to cover services like emergency room visits, hearing aids and substance abuse treatment.
The plan also calls for an audit of prescription drug costs. Harris is proposing a 10-year phase-in period, as opposed to Sanders’ plan, which called for a four-year transition. Her plan would automatically enroll newborns and uninsured individuals.
The Harris campaign said that extending the transition period would decrease the overall cost of Medicare for All, but it did not specify what that new estimated cost would be. Sanders estimates that his plan could cost up to $40 trillion over a decade.
— Stephanie Ramirez
Biden hoping to keep focus on Trump in debate
3:22 p.m.: Biden is hoping to keep the focus tonight on President Trump, but will not resist aggressively defending his record if confronted by fellow Democrats.
Biden is prepared to “take it Donald Trump and to not take any attacks on his record lying down,” a senior campaign official told reporters Wednesday afternoon ahead of the debate. “You’ll hear him articulate a strong case for why Donald Trump’s leaderships has been a failure for working-class people. Why it’s been a failure on the world stage.”
During the debate, Biden hopes to “make a case for transformational change in this country” and hopes to make the point that “consensus can’t be a dirty word and you have to work together to make change,” said the aide.
“You will certainly see him talk about some of the significant differences in the field,” the aide added. “Obviously, health care is one of them.”
Campaign aides refused to answer questions about how exactly Biden has been preparing — and wouldn’t even say which family members are in Detroit to watch the debate. But, they assured reporters that Biden “took prep very seriously.”
— Ed O’Keefe and Caitlin Conant
CNN sees steep drop in ratings from second debate
3:07 p.m.: Approximately 8.7 million viewers watched the first night of the second debate on Tuesday, a steep drop from the first Democratic debate in June. CNN also announced that 2.8 million people watched via live stream.
The debates in June, which aired on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, garnered 15.3 million viewers across networks on the first night, and 18.1 million viewers on the second night. More than 9 million viewers watched the first debates via live stream.
Tonight’s debate will feature two of the most high profile candidates, Harris and Biden, so ratings may once again go up for the second night.
— Grace Segers
Sanders hauls in $1.1 million after Tuesday debate
2:41 p.m.: The Sanders campaign is hailing a victory after it reported a haul of $1.1 million and more than 70,000 contributions from small-dollar donors since Tuesday.
Sanders’ campaign manager credits the candidate’s breakout performance during Tuesday night’s debate for the fundraising milestone.
“Bernie Sanders commanded the debate, his vision and ideas dominated the stage, and he left absolutely no doubt that he is the best candidate ready to take this fight to Donald Trump and finally bring the change we need to America,” said Campaign Manager Faiz Shakir.
“Bernie Sanders stood out as a champion of working people and marginalized communities.”
The fundraising feat is nothing to scoff at either as candidates must pass even stricter thresholds to make the September debate stage.
A spokesperson for O’Rourke said that his campaign had the biggest fundraising day of the quarter after the debate, but declined to release any additional numbers.
— Emily Tillett
Warren, Sanders come out on top during Tuesday’s debate
The audience at Detroit’s Fox Theatre roared with applause for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two of the top contenders for the nomination.
Meanwhile, bottom-tier candidates like John Delaney, Tim Ryan and John Hickenlooper struggled to land their punches and connect with the audience, often choosing to attack Sanders and Warren rather than train their fire on the current administration.
Warren and Sanders emerged largely unscathed, having vigorously defended their proposals while upbraiding their opponents for failing to embrace bold policy positions.
“You know, I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” Warren said, in one of the defining moments of the evening.
— Emily Tillett