The candidates return to the stage less than a week after the first truly contentious debate held last Wednesday in Nevada, where Elizabeth Warren didn’t pull any punches on newcomer Michael Bloomberg. As the campaigns prepare to take on one of the last strongholds of Biden support in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, expect the candidates to make appeals to both Palmetto State voters and to looming Super Tuesday audiences, while sharpening the attacks on national frontrunner Bernie Sanders and the exceedingly well-financed Bloomberg campaign.
What time is the debate and where is it streaming?
The debate will be held at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, and will stream from 8 p.m. eastern to about 10:30 p.m. Hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, it can be streamed at the CBS News site and on Twitter at @CBSNews.
Who will be debating?
The crowd has expanded in the past week: Though Tom Steyer didn’t make the cut for the Las Vegas debate, his polling in the Palmetto State in a distant third place has qualified him to appear on Tuesday. (It appears his massive spending in the state has paid off.) Joining the billionaire candidate will be the other billionaire candidate Michael Bloomberg, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Vice-President Joe Biden, and former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Who is moderating?
The debate will have five moderators: CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell, CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King, Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan, Washington correspondent Major Garrett, and 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker.
What to watch for in Charleston
Last week, Elizabeth Warren’s expert attack on Michael Bloomberg resulted in a substantial poll bump, bringing her to second place nationally in a CBSNews/YouGov poll. Expect the Massachusetts senator, and just about every other candidate, to call out Bloomberg on his controversial record as New York mayor; expect Warren specifically to continue to press the billionaire to release women who have signed NDAs with his company from the binding agreements. (On Friday, Bloomberg released a statement identifying three women who could see their NDAs voided so that the public can see the “complaints about comments they said I had made.”) Meanwhile, Bloomberg will most likely target Sanders in an effort to draw supporters away prior to Super Tuesday. On Monday, a CNBC report emerged detailing a massive ad buy focused on the Vermont senator, including spots that emphasize his spotty early record on gun control legislation.
With the South Carolina primary on Saturday, candidates who are polling well there (Biden, Sanders, and Steyer) will most likely make major appeals to Palmetto State voters — Steyer especially, as the vote this week is his last realistic shot to hang on, even if his bank account could draw out his campaign much longer. For candidates in single digits in South Carolina (Klobuchar, Warren, Buttigieg, and Bloomberg, who is not even in the Saturday primary), the real appeal will be the vote on the big Tuesday after the debate.
We’ve almost made it
There’s only one more debate officially scheduled, for March 15 in Phoenix, Arizona — though a 12th primary debate could be added, depending on how the field looks in a month or so.