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12 Candidates to Appear on Single Debate Stage in October

You can add Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer to this picture for the next debate. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

In a surprise development that broke from its past precedent of limiting presidential debate fields to ten candidates on any one night, the Democratic National Committee has indicated that all 12 qualifiers for the next debate will on a single stage on October 15. Debate sponsor CNN had the story:

“To address several inquiries we have received we are writing to let you know that, pending a final decision after the certification deadline, it is the intention of the DNC and our media partners to hold the October debate over one night on Tuesday October 15th,” the DNC wrote in an email Friday morning.

The party’s fourth sanctioned primary debate will air live at 8 p.m. ET from the campus of Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, with CNN anchors Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooperand New York Times national editor Marc Lacey serving as moderators.

The October debate will include the ten September debaters (Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang) plus two more recent qualifiers (Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer). The qualifying window doesn’t end until Tuesday, October 1, but no other candidates are thought to be anywhere near making the combined polling and fundraising thresholds. It’s always possible some qualifiers will free up stage space by dropping out of the race before October 15, but it’s unlikely any will give up the free exposure and the long-shot possibility of a breakthrough performance that rallies the nation to her or his banner.

On the one hand, this means we can stop worrying about debate-night “draws” skewing the interaction by placing potentially colliding candidates on different nights. But there will be even more jockeying for time and attention than in earlier debates — and perhaps more clash since higher qualifying thresholds kick in for the November and subsequent debates.

Most excited by the one-night decision will be campaign operatives and journalists who won’t have to work really late on two consecutive weeknights. Here’s the viewing details for those who want to rev their engines and savor the anticipation:

The debate will air exclusively on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español, and stream on’s homepage and’s homepage. In addition, the debate will be available across mobile devices via CNN’s and New York Times’ apps for iOS and Android, via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV, SiriusXM Channels 116, 454, 795, the Westwood One Radio Network and National Public Radio.

This is CNN’s second bite at the debate apple; it hosted the July debates as well.

Update, October 1: it’s official: the twelve candidate mentioned above are the qualifiers for the October 15 debate.

12 Candidates to Appear on Single Debate Stage in October