The Democratic National Committee confirmed today what we already knew from various cries of joy and anguish: At the end of yesterday’s final day of qualifying, ten and only ten candidates made the cut for the third round of Democratic presidential debate in Houston next month, which means that the candidates can be accommodated on a single stage instead of the two-night affairs we saw in June and July when 20 candidates were included. The debate, on Thursday, September 12, will be broadcast on ABC, with Univision also airing it with Spanish translation.
The one bit of real debate news today was ABC’s unveiling of the podium placement for the debate. To the great pleasure of those hoping for an opportunity to compare Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren (who debated on separate nights in both June and July), these two candidates will be at center stage in Houston, in an arrangement based on candidate polling rank in the last ten surveys treated as “qualifying” by the Democratic National Committee. Biden will actually be flanked by both Warren and Bernie Sanders, which could make for some interesting tag-team action if the candidates are so inclined. The far wings of the stage, held down by relatively minor candidates in the earlier debates, will feature Amy Klobuchar and Julián Castro.
The moderators for the debate, to be held at Texas Southern University, will be ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, and Linsey Davis, along with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. The format will allow for somewhat longer answers and rebuttals than in past debates, and the networks are providing for three whole hours to conduct the debate (and run some ads, obviously).
The debate will compete for viewers with Thursday night NFL and college football broadcasts, but at least the one-night format will preserve Friday night for nonpolitical pursuits.