The number of democratic candidates is going to be cut in half. The Sept. 12 debate stage is set with just 10 candidates, ensuring there will be a one-night event in which the front-runners will finally come face to face.
Making the cut are: former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. It’s the third debate so far this cycle and will take place in Houston hosted by ABC News and Univision.
Stricter qualification rules from the Democratic National Committee required candidates to hit both polling and fundraising benchmarks. That means the debate field from June and July has been slashed in half, the biggest demarcation yet in the race to determine who will take on President Trump.
For Democrats frustrated by the massive field of 20 candidates, the smaller focus on those running who have the best shot to actually win the nomination is a welcome development just over five months before the first votes are cast.
“I’m looking forward to getting to the place — assuming I’m still around — that it gets down to a smaller number of people so we can have more of a discussion instead of one-minute assertions,” Biden told reporters after a campaign event in Spartanburg, S.C., on Wednesday.
Notably, Biden will finally face off against a surging Warren, who is quickly emerging as his top rival. Thanks to a random drawing to determine debate order for the first two meetings, the two have yet to share the same stage.
“I’m just gonna be me. And she’ll be her. Let people make their judgments. I have great respect for her,” the former vice president said of a matchup with the Massachusetts senator.
There have already been ramifications from the DNC’s decision to curtail the debate size next month, with the past two weeks seeing the most departures yet from struggling candidates. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday became the latest to drop out, citing failure to make the stage as part of her calculus. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also recently ended their long shot bids.
Other candidates, however, are vowing to stay and fight, despite the decreased exposure and mounting odds they face now that the field is beginning to winnow.